General Hospital: Luke & Laure, The Rape

By: Beverly V., TV Fan Online Writer 2006.10.31

Luke & Laura, The Rape

It is one of the rarest pairings in the history of a daytime: A rape victim falls in love with the man who raped her on the floor of a disco and later marries him.  Still, despite their unsavory beginnings, Luke and Laura went on to become the epitome of a supercouple, causing other soaps to duplicate the formula General Hospital used to propel Luke and Laura into a pop culture phenomenon.  To this day, the wedding of Luke and Laura is the most watched moment in American daytime history, garnering 30 million viewers.  But albeit the love shared by Luke and Laura has overcome one obstacle after the next and they are embraced by fans all around the world, the controversial rape that initially set the couple’s unlikely relationship into play has always been a focal point—first, by viewers and critics alike, and then by family members.  

The Unlikely Pair 

The pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber was anything but planned.  The rape itself was a risk that the writers decided to take in lieu of fledging ratings and pending cancellation.  Prior to being linked to Luke Spencer, Laura Webber was a teenager who killed her stepfather's friend, a man who had seduced her in an attempt to get revenge on her mother.  Sensing the viewers’ fondness for Laura, she was then paired with Scotty Baldwin, who became an obsession of Nurse Bobbie Spencer.  In an attempt to lure Laura from Scotty, Bobbie enlisted the help of her brother, troubled bad guy, Luke Spencer.  Bored with typical household affairs, Laura sought a job at Luke’s night club.  It was there that the two built a rapport and on one fateful evening, Luke, realizing that he had fallen in love with Laura and sensing that he would never get an opportunity to show her, raped her on the floor of his disco.   

Raping a woman in a drunken rage is the last thing anyone expected to view on a soap opera in the late seventies—even today, maybe—but it’s exactly what Luke did to Laura.  It was a risky move, one that paid off big for General Hospital, who was just recovering from a monumental ratings slump.  The show quickly found its way back to the top of the list because of the rape controversy.  Critics everywhere had hailed the rape of Laura Baldwin as the end of General Hospital, but instead it was the beginning of a soap opera dynasty.   

From rape to seduction 

Considering Laura’s behavior following her rape, one could almost say that her affection towards Luke was apparent from the beginning, as she did not identify him as the man who raped her when questioned.  In fact, she concealed the secret, never admitting that Luke raped her, even to her own husband. Luke and Laura would spend two years playing a game of cat-and-mouse before Laura finally admitted that she had fallen in love with her assailant, and left her husband, Scotty Baldwin, to be with him.   

As the popularity of Luke and Laura continued to grow, the rape was downplayed.  In an attempt to erase the unspeakable crime, General Hospital fervently reshot the scenes of Laura’s rape for flashback purposes.  While these scenes played in the backdrop, Laura spoke of her first time with Luke.  In fact, the following words Laura used to describe her first intimate encounter with Luke, shocked, horrified, and deeply offended some viewers: “The first time Luke and I made love.” 

Critics, viewers, and eventually their own son, did not embrace Laura’s definition of seduction.  Around the world, some people were appalled that Laura could find equivalence between such a vile act and brutal demonstration of control and something consensual, an act of love between two consenting adults. 

The way they were 

Years later, in response to underlying and unresolved feelings about the rape of Laura not being properly addressed, the writers decided to correct their non-politically correct definition of rape by making it a center of discord between Luke and Laura’s son, Lucky Spencer. Upon finding a distraught rape victim named Elizabeth Webber, Lucky befriended and romanced the young rape survivor.  During their relationship, Lucky’s half-brother told Lucky that his parents had not been reunited under romantic pretensions, but by an act of rape, much like the one Lucky’s love-interest had encountered.   

When Lucky confronted his father about this act of violence against his mother, Luke recounted, via a nine-minute uninterrupted monologue, exactly what he was feeling and why he had come to rape the woman who would eventually become his wife.  During the entanglement of Lucky and his father, Laura was placed into counseling, where she was finally forced to admit that her husband, Luke Spencer, had indeed committed an act of rape against her—not seduced her, as she had previously alleged.  The footage of this horrible act was also returned to its original form. 

Many are still befuddled by the fact that a rape survivor and her rapist went on to become daytime’s most beloved supercouple of all time, as it’s not a storyline to be taken lightly and certainly not a trend any soap opera is encouraged to repeat.  Regardless of how unconventional the love story that Luke and Laura Spencer share, three things are for certain: The rape of Laura Baldwin brought General Hospital back to the top; Luke and Laura are America’s longest-running sweethearts in the history of daytime and they are pop culture royalty.

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Oct 31, 2006 - 10:10 AM
Rape on Soaps

Didn't Patch later rape Kayla--whom he married and on the same show DOOL, Jack Devereaux raped Jennifer, and I believe they are still married?



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