Update on General Hospital’s Pristina

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Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (or you know, a soap opera called “General Hospital”), a college student named Kristina Davis (Lexi Ainsworth) tried to trade sex with her married female teacher, Parker Forsyth (Ashley Jones), for a better grade so she wouldn’t fail a class. Or did she?

According to Parker, Kristina was failing her class and saw in Parker a possible means to remedy that. But Parker, a responsible authority figure, recognized the inherent risk of an infatuated student and turned her in to the school Ethics Committee, who suspended Kristina for the rest of the academic year from Wesleyn University. According to Kristina, however, Parker was unhappy in her marriage and a lot too friendly with her star pupil, making sexy eyes at her in class and inviting her over at night to sip scotch and discuss sexual topics while her wife was away. Kristina made a move and Parker turned coward, reporting her as a way of escaping her own (obvious) feelings.

In truth, the sex-for-grades issue was really just a fig leaf: for Parker, the fig leaf that enabled her to pretend that she hadn’t encouraged a borderline inappropriate relationship with a student and that she didn’t have more than teacherly feelings for said student. For Kristina, it was a fig leaf that enabled her to pretend to her family that she didn’t have The Lesbian Feelings for her teacher and that it was a merely transactional ploy.

This all happened off camera, however. What we as viewers first saw was the wreckage of that fig leaf: during their first interaction on screen, Kristina and Parker exchanged ugly threats and counter-threats before Parker disappeared, leaving her spectre hanging heavy over Kristina. What followed was much angst for Kristina, who worried incessantly about how her parents would take having a daughter who got suspended from school for trying to seduce her teacher.

The first act of the Pristina storyline ended when Parker showed up at Kristina’s house, ostensibly to “check on her,” although as Kristina saw clearly that was just another fig leaf. The two kissed, but Parker promptly minimized the magnitude of Kristina’s feelings, attributing them to Kristina subconsciously seeking a safe (unattainable) figure of worship. While her argument was logical, it was also completely undercut by Parker’s admission that she was attracted to Kristina. Then Parker left, probably to head out to that parking lot in “Gray’s Anatomy” that eats lesbians.

In act two, Parker returned to Port Charles as a guest lecturer at a conference, and Kristina was drawn like a moth to the flame of Parker’s hotel room. There, Kristina discovered that Parker and her wife had broken up, opening the door to a sexy sleepover. The next day, however, while Kristina was blissfully happy and looking to build on that night, Parker continued her tactic of patronizingly dismissing everything about the relationship as immature and impossible, rejecting the possibility of any sort of the future between them.

Kristina eventually started to succeed at breaking down Parker’s walls, who for the first time cracked the door open for a future together and seemed to warm to the idea. The reunion was ultimately bitterly brief, however: although Parker was no longer Kristina’s teacher, Kristina’s mom played on Parker’s pre-existing unease about the situation, leading Parker to immediately flee town, leaving only a Dear John note for Kristina.

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In act three, Kristina showed up at the university, desperate to know why Parker called her after weeks of radio silence. It turns out that Parker had accidentally pocket dialed her, and Parker announced she had decided to reconcile with her wife, putting yet more nails into the Pristina coffin. Devastated, Kristina accused Parker of using her and abusing her position of authority.

Many Pristina fans at the time were rightfully furious at Parker’s behavior. In their eyes, Parker was wholly guilty of Kristina’s last accusation: that Parker was weak and selfish, emphasis on the spinelessness. Parker was relegated to the fictional trope bin of “catalyst in the sexual awakening of another character” who had served her purpose, enabling Kristina to pursue new storylines in the future.

So might have ended Pristina, a hard lesson for Kristina about the bittersweetness of first (lesbian) love and the dangers to trying to have a relationship with an authority figure, until last month when Parker returned to Port Charles after a year absence with news that she had broken up permanently with her wife and was now teaching Kristina’s sister at Port Charles University.

Kristina and Parker’s eyes met and it was clear that although a year had passed, all the old feelings were still there, particularly for Kristina, who appears to be doomed to never get over her infatuation. Kristina and Parker had some time to talk through what had happened in the past, and the seeds of hope were planted.

Shortly thereafter, Kristina was hanging out at Lesbian Night at The Floating Rib with her friend Valerie (Brytni Sarpy) and the two shared what the Internet has christened “a steamy kiss” to make Parker jealous. And true to form, Parker looked like she died a little inside watching it happen. Later, Kristina did her best to force Parker to confront what was between them, but as of last week Parker was putting up the same resistance she’s done since 2015, running away while citing the immorality of teacher-student relationships.

Now, diehard Pristina fans are hopeful that fourth time’s the charm for this couple, while fans who disliked the age difference between Kristina and Parker (approximately 16 years) are hopeful that Valerie will become a more age appropriate love interest. Both sides agree that they hope GH will be more even and consistent in its treatment of Kristina’s storyline, which has experienced big lags in the last year.

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The thing is, Ainsworth is an AMAZING actress. She hits it out of the ballpark with Kristina and there’s a reason she won an Emmy this year in the Outstanding Younger Actress category. Here are all the Emmys: take them. You deserve them. That said, GH really does have a problem with its Pristina storyline, which can best be described by the expression (and I paraphrase here): Use the bathroom or leave the stall.

GH seems not to have figured out what it wants to do with the Pristina storyline. If all Parker ever does is show up to Port Charles to pull Kristina’s strings for a few episodes and then leave, then it’s a waste of both actresses, as well as Pristina fans’ time. Ainsworth shines in all of her scenes no matter the content, but she’s had to do the same Pristina scenes a dozen times. Why are Kristina and Parker in September 2017 using the exact same lines as Kristina and Parker in August 2016?

Parker needed to show up this time and really show up if it was going to move the storyline forward, but instead so far it’s more of the same. At the end of the day, fans have a right to ask: who’s going to take Kristina on a picnic and make her coleslaw, as Aaron did for her? Who is going to order her room service for breakfast, as she did for Parker? Who is going to make her feel special and validated and loved? If that’s never going to be Parker, then this isn’t an OTP and it’s time to let the USS Pristina sail away into the sunset. If it is going to be Parker, on the other hand, then ABC is going to have to let that storyline advance and give them some happiness as a couple. Pristina can’t just fence sit forever.

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