"Ready for dinner"
The first lesbian kiss on daytime TV occurred on “All My Children” on Wednesday, ending years of anticipation and lobbying by fans of the show, who had wondered when poor little Bianca (Eden Riegel) would stop getting crushes on straight girls and find a love of her own. Groundbreaking though it may be, many fans of the show had been loudly cheering for a different partner for Bianca.
The Bianca Montgomery role was introduced in 1988, when Susan Lucci’s legendary character Erica Kane gave birth to a daughter. Since then, presumably to give Lucci lots of excuses to turn on the waterworks, Bianca has struggled with anorexia nervosa, Reye’s syndrome and the death of her father. As is often the case on soaps, several different actresses filled the role over the years. Finally, in 2000, a few months after Riegel took the role, Bianca came out as a lesbian to her friends and family. (For the full back story on Bianca’s character, check out Sarah Warn’s article about her on Afterellen.com, a Web site that covers the representation of lesbians in the media.)
Since then, Bianca hasn’t seen any action at all, partly because she mostly manages to fall for straight or unavailable women, including her close friend Maggie (Elizabeth Hendrikson). The two characters have exchanged intimate gazes and frolicked provocatively in countless scenes, the tension becoming so unbearable that frustrated fans formed BAM (Bianca and Maggie), a group bent on lobbying “All My Children” to get the two characters together. Even the two actresses, both heterosexual, have been upfront about wanting to see their characters together. Later in January, though, Maggie told a heartbroken Bianca, “I love you, I really do … but I’m into guys.” Curses! Foiled again!
Enter Lena, a sassy French bisexual temptress in the mold of Juliette Binoche. In classic soap style, she began spending time with Bianca as part of an evil plan to take over her mother’s company, but found herself falling in love with her. In Wednesday’s episode, Lena broke her ties with her partner in crime, quit her position at Erica’s company and went to the airport, where Bianca rushed to confront her about what had happened.
Bianca: “Lena, wait! Are you leaving because of me?”
Bianca: “I don’t understand!”
Both women’s eyes water.
Bianca: “We had something, I felt it. And I know you did, too!”
Several variations on this theme and half a dozen commercials later …
Bianca: “You touched my heart, and I will always treasure that. Have a safe flight.”
Lena leans in and kisses Bianca old-fashioned style, both mouths closed tightly.
Not the most passionate kiss, but satisfying enough, given that most of the episode was devoted to showcasing the big event. As awkward and staged as the scene might have been, the show’s writers really pulled some fun and daring moves in the episode, like having Bianca discuss her confusion about Lena with Myrtle (Eileen Herlie), an older woman who said in her aristocratic British accent, “Maybe it was too hot!” Myrtle even suggested that Bianca loves unavailable women because her mother, the legendarily fickle Erica Kane, is always running away from true love.
Given all the tension and melodrama “All My Children” has squeezed out of Bianca, I wouldn’t be surprised if soap characters started busting out of the closet left and right. All right, maybe I would be surprised, but I can’t think of one good reason why the lame vampire-fest “Port Charles” shouldn’t become the next “Queer as Folk.” Just think of how enlightened kids would get on those sick days home from school.
Heather Havrilesky is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, The Awl and Bookforum, and is the author of the memoir "Disaster Preparedness." You can also follow her on Twitter at @hhavrilesky.More Heather Havrilesky.