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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gay kiss splits daytime television community

by Jennifer Squires Biller

Never, in all my years of television commentating, have I seen such an outcry to a storyline on daytime television, as the one currently airing on As the World Turns. For those of you who don’t watch soaps, it featured a steamy kiss between two men. (See the video clip at the end of this article.)

Sure, fans were upset when Days of Our Lives Marlena was possessed by the Devil; they swore they’d never watch General Hospital again after Luke and Laura split; and they threatened to turn off their sets when All My Children featured a transgender storyline. But, the kiss between Luke and Noah on As the World Turns has created such a furor that my mailbox has been flooded with more 600 e-mails from folks either threatening to never watch the show again or heralding the story as the best thing to hit daytime in decades.

As some of you know, in addition to this blog, I write the Two Scoops opinion column for the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns at the popular Web site Soap Central. I wrote about the kiss when it happened in my column and published a sample of the angry mail viewers sent to my mailbox. I questioned why people were so outraged by what they called an “immoral act” but weren’t this upset when other characters on the show turned to prostitution, porn and murder. After that column ran, I received even more e-mails from fans writing in to support the storyline and from many still swearing never to watch the show again.

The reason I’m even discussing this at Tube Talk is because a romantic kiss between two men on daytime television is a first. Whether you agree with showcasing a gay romance or not on a soap opera, the fact is that it has never been done well. All My Children tried it with lesbian Bianca, but the storyline was quickly dropped. In a genre where it was once taboo to show a couple in bed under the covers, this storyline is inciting passionate views on both sides.

We’ve seen romantic kisses between two men in mainstream primetime. Most notably, on ABC’s Brothers and Sisters, which airs late at night (10 p.m. ET.) But, will daytime fans accept a love story between two men airing during the daytime? The jury is still out.

What do you think, Tubers? Should love in the afternoon on soaps be reserved solely for heterosexual couples? Please discuss among yourselves.


vince said...

I'm not sure why this is causing such an outrage. I think the daytime audience is older and more conservative than a primetime audience, so they're aren't used to seeing what we've already seen on Will and Grace and Brothers and Sisters. I don't know....it's weird that people are so outraged but, as you said in your soapcentral column, they don't show the same "moral outrage" when characters turn to prostitution, porn or murder.

mike said...

I started watching because of this storyline. It's made a confusining time in my life a little easier.

Joe B. said...

Well, Jennifer, I think it's great. Younger gay people need to see themselves reflected in the popular media, so good for ATWT.

But you know, I've never watched the show. I'm an ABC Soaps guy.

Well, at this point in my life, just the occasional moment of All My Children.

Scooter McGavin said...

I have been desensitized by all the sex and violence over the years very few things shock me any more and this certainly isn't one of them.

But Vince hit the nail on the head, it is an older, conservative audience that are still are in the old mode that homosexuality in any form is wrong.

Steph said...

I just don't want to see this in the middle of the afternoon. Sorry. I have nothing against gay people, but a gay love scene makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't know...maybe it's because I'm not used to seeing it....

Kim said...

Kudos to ATWT for doing this story. There are plenty of homosexuals in our society and soaps are a reflection of society. Plus, maybe it will help people learn to accept other people as they are.

Marilyn said...

I'm a 69 year old "conservative" grandmother and I don't mind this storyline. Luke is a nice kid who deserves to find love, in whatever form he can.

Rae said...

I'm late to the party but I wanted to make sure to come back and comment when I had a moment. I'm actually surprised this is causing such outrage. I guess because it's not something so outrageous for primetime these days. Or maybe because I watch HBO and Showtime shows and not only do we see kisses between all types of couples on those networks... they're often quite passionate.

I mean, I think this is actually one of the better gay kisses I've seen on network TV. Maybe that's part of the problem? It's easier to brush it away when it comes across as two straight men kissing but when it truly comes across as two men passionate for each other, it's a little harder to dismiss that two men can feel that way for each other?

Either way, I think the outrage just illustrates that there are still way too many close minded people in this country. I understand being uncomfortable or not believing homosexuality is "right" (and by understand, I mean that I accept that some people feel that way and, while I don't agree, I don't begrudge them the right to their opinions) but you have the right to turn the channel. Plenty of people accept this as a way of life and they have just as much right to be represented in soap operas as anyone else.

tube talk girl said...

Rae! Nice to see you! I appreciate you coming by.

I think that you're right in that this was one of the more romantic gay kisses on network TV. Audiences don't seem so outraged when it's a peck or a silly kiss, but this seems destined to be a love story, and I think it makes many viewers uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your assertion that All my children quickly dropped Bianca's storyline. She was on the show for over 4 years after she came out and had about 4 same-sex kisses. Although I do think that AMC has let down Bianca fans in many ways when it comes to their portrayal of Bianca's homosexuality it's not at all accuate to say her storyline was quickly dropped.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I realized you were referring to Bianca's romances being quickly dropped not the character and her storyline.Sorry about that.I get nitpicky about the facts of the show.

Anyways,IMO Luke is a well written and acted character and deserves to have a romance just like any other character. I think this storyline has so far been pretty well done. I hope the writers continue with it and don't chicken out like other shows have.

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