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File:Bianca and Maggie (Main B).jpg

Bianca Montgomery and Maggie Stone are fictional characters and a supercouple from the American daytime drama All My Children.[1] Bianca is portrayed by Eden Riegel, and Maggie is portrayed by Elizabeth Hendrickson.

Agnes Nixon created and introduced Bianca in 1988, and she became known as the first lead character on a major daytime drama to be a lesbian.[2] Hendrickson was originally brought on as character Frankie Stone; the storyline revolved around the close relationship of Bianca and Frankie, as well as the aftermath of Frankie's death. When her death attracted criticism, writer Richard Culliton decided to bring the actress back as the character's identical twin sister, Maggie Stone. Maggie debuted on the show in 2002, to investigate her sister's murder, and was immediately thereafter set up to bond with Bianca.

The two characters became the center of an on-again, off-again romantic flirtation that developed into a romance, spanning four years all together.[3] Star-crossed true loves, the pairing was planned to have many ups and downs; they sought friendship and security in their need for solidarity, and dealt with sexual confusion and ambiguity in their struggle to remain platonic.

Despite the couple taking three and a half years to make their romance official, they managed to constantly intrigue not only the All My Children audience but soap opera critics and LGBT magazines and websites such as The Advocate and AfterEllen.com, ultimately becoming the most demanded homosexual pairing in American daytime soap opera history.[4] They are daytime television's first same-sex supercouple.[5]

BackgroundEdit

WritingEdit

Even before Frankie Stone's introduction, former All My Children head writer Richard Culliton had planned for her to die in a murder storyline after three months.[6] Culliton and ABC executives were surprised when viewers became attached to the romance between Bianca and Frankie, developed by Culliton with Frankie's debut.[7] These fans attributed Frankie's death to the show's fear to focus on a lesbian romance.[6][8] Eventually, Culliton came up with the idea to bring back the popular actress who had portrayed Frankie, Elizabeth Hendrickson, as the character's identical twin sister. He continued to write for the show until late 2002.[9]

Television executive Brian Frons held a six-year position with SBS Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, where he worked on a number of popular reality shows. When he became head of ABC Daytime in 2002, he pushed for ABC's soap operas, which he felt had become cliché-ridden and predictable, to become more realistic.[10]

With Jean Dadario Burke as executive producer, Frons had ABC begin adding more depth to All My Children's Bianca Montgomery, the lesbian daughter of Susan Lucci's Erica Kane, as originally scripted by Agnes Nixon. Feeling that Bianca was defined only by her sexuality, they began writing her character "to become everywoman, to make her more real and to understand what makes her good or bad".[10] Writers were initially uncertain whether to pair Maggie romantically with Bianca; they did not want Maggie to be a copy of Frankie, and thus scripted Maggie as heterosexual, with various aspects of her personality different than Frankie's.[7] Complicating matters further, Bianca was given a different lesbian love interest, Lena Kundera.[11] At the time, in an interview reported by the New York Post, Frons stated that he considered the Bianca and Lena pairing "much bolder" than romantically pairing Bianca with "longtime" galpal Maggie.[11] However, he expressed uncertainty about pairing Maggie with a man: "Maybe it will be decided that Maggie has no chemistry with Henry because she is a lesbian and wasn't ready to deal with it."[11]

When choosing Maggie's love interests, the audience often seemed to have more say about the matter than Frons himself. Before Maggie's relationship with character Henry Chin came to an end, viewers refused to give their romance a chance,[12] adamant that the only true love for Maggie had to be Bianca. Ivan Shaw, Henry's then-portrayer, relied on optimism: "I have definitely felt the heat from all of the Bianca and Maggie fans, but hope that the Henry and Maggie relationship will eventually win them over."[13]

Viewers were, however, persistent in their opposition to Henry and Maggie's relationship, and the writers soon created an exit for Henry to leave town. Maggie was soon seen questioning her sexual orientation due to sensing romantic feelings on her part for Bianca.[14] Early scenes between Bianca and Maggie revolved around the two romantically desiring each other but often secretly. As time went on, conflict between Lena and Maggie was apparent.[14] Maggie dated men to negate her sexual attraction to Bianca, her "coming-out" process designed as going from denial, to confusion, to acceptance of her sexuality — a portrayal lauded as representative of real-life experiences of lesbians and bisexual women.[14] Bianca never faced a similar on-screen struggle with her sexuality, since she had already come to terms with her sexual orientation when she returned to Pine Valley after a time of absence from the series.[14]

By the time Megan McTavish had stepped in as head writer with Julie Hanan Carruthers as executive producer, McTavish explained that Maggie's involvement with character Jonathan Lavery was partly a result of her feeling rejected by Bianca.[7] Though the writers had Maggie accept her sexual interest in Bianca, the character was once again written to deny being sexually attracted to women; her relationship with Jonathan now her main focus and the possibility of her wanting Bianca as a lover now retracted.[7] With viewers indifferent about the Lena/Bianca/Maggie love triangle,[7] a story arc was written pushing a Jonathan/Maggie/Bianca love triangle. This second love triangle developed slowly,[7] but included an aspect that kept viewers invested: Jonathan was an abuser, and Bianca fought to free Maggie of his control.[10] Maggie's new denial did not last long, and the character later admitted her desire to start a life with Bianca.

Fan response to the Bianca and Maggie romance was positive,[15] and the arc worked towards the goals of realism Frons wanted to convey. He believed "it was very real and had not been done in daytime [television] before".[10]

Early cycleEdit

Increased drama, relationship cycle
  Extent Relationship
Friendship
Romance Continuous possibility Intense
Jealousy Common Awkward
Verge of a romance Admitting to feelings Ambiguous, often involving obstacles or denial; Maggie having sex with men to negate her sexual attraction to Bianca
Physical contact/specific interaction
Hugs Common Relaxed; awkward in later stages when fighting attraction
Intimate glares Common Overprotectiveness/desire
Saving each other Common Maggie saves Bianca from despair; Bianca continuously tries to save Maggie from violence and abuse
Talks Often Funny, complicated, painful

Actresses' approachEdit

Hendrickson had not originally planned on working on soap operas, believing the medium would not challenge her acting. But after a few years of struggling to acquire a steady acting job, she decided to give the daytime genre a chance and agreed to a contract role with the show, which she soon came to regard as challenging.[15]

Eden Riegel, who signed on one year earlier and had formerly appeared on Broadway, was also apprehensive about joining a soap opera, but was convinced by her parents. She later attributed her reluctance to elitism.[16]

Viewers and critics such as magazine Soap Opera Digest noted a positive working dynamic between Riegel and Hendrickson.[15] The two women, though both heterosexual in real life, stated that they "just clicked" and enjoy each other's company.[15]

When later queried on the viewer demand for a romance between Bianca and Maggie, the actresses relayed their support for gay and lesbian representation in television, with Riegel stating: "I think Liz [Hendrickson] will agree that it would be an amazing storyline. [...] I realize what an incredible opportunity we have to show a real love between two women that really speaks to people and can promote tolerance and respect."[15]

Hendrickson followed up: "That's one of the reasons that I took the role of Frankie. They didn't necessarily say that Frankie was going to be a lesbian, but they alluded to the fact that she could be. I felt that I could make an impact, and what better way to choose a role? I am more than willing to go that way."[15]

Riegel and Hendrickson have described an emotional investment in their characters driven by impact on fans and positive fan response.[15]

MusicEdit

Music within the Bianca and Maggie relationship consists of a mixture of soft rock, pop and the show's own original melodies. Romantic or otherwise powerful undertones are present within these scenes. In a less hectic time for the characters, an original song titled "All I Ever Wanted Was You" was played during a scene where Bianca and Maggie discussed their feelings for each other, but decided to remain best friends.[17]

In a more difficult instance, on July 8 2003, during a pivotal scene in which Bianca is raped, Tori Amos's version of "I'm Not In Love" was featured prominently on the show. The following day, the show broadcast a RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) PSA after the program. In response to the rape storyline, fans of the Bianca and Maggie relationship organized a charity auction on eBay that ran throughout the month of July 2003 with all proceeds having gone to RAINN.[18]

Original and featured music on the show was followed through by composers A.J. Gundell, Gary Kuo, Kim Oler and Jerry Pilato. In 2004, they were nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement In Music Direction And Composition For A Drama Series.[19]

StorylineEdit

File:Bianca first meeting Maggie.jpg

In 2002, Maggie Stone comes to Pine Valley to investigate the murder of her twin sister, Frankie, whom Bianca mistakes her for at first sight.[20] Their meeting is set up by Kendall Hart (Alicia Minshew), Bianca's sister, who loathes Bianca. She figures that Bianca will be hurt by seeing someone who looks exactly like Frankie, Bianca's deceased girlfriend.[21] Maggie explains who she is, but Bianca is too happy to see Frankie’s face, that Maggie’s words are not immediately understood. Kendall's plan having backfired, the two meet later, where they discuss Frankie in further detail.

Maggie reconnects with her family, Vanessa Cortlandt (Marj Dusay), Leo du Pres (Josh Duhamel) and David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry), whom she barely knows. Bianca bonds with Maggie. Together, they work to find Frankie’s killer. After discovering Frankie was killed by her Aunt Vanessa’s henchman, Maggie confronts Vanessa. Maggie is drugged and left to die in an abandoned pump house, but is rescued by David and Leo.[22][23]

As the storyline progresses, Maggie begins to care for her family, but her bond with Bianca grows even stronger. She becomes furious, however, when a drunken Bianca attempts to caress her face. Maggie asserts that she is not a lesbian, unlike her sister.[24] Bianca and Maggie reconcile. The two develop a solid friendship after Maggie assists Bianca in confronting some homophobic, high school bullies. They attend prom together as a platonic couple.[21] Bianca develops the fear that she is using Maggie as a replacement to Frankie, and the sexual tension between the two causes Bianca to push Maggie into briefly dating a guy named Tim Dillon.[25] Bianca later provides comfort for Maggie when Leo is killed, and some time later decides to confront Maggie about her feelings. Maggie admits that she loves Bianca, but asserts that she is "into guys", and apologizes for not being able to be Bianca's lover.[26] Bianca admits that she is hurt, but vows to move on. Maggie enrolls at Pine Valley University, where she enters into a romantic relationship with a guy named Henry Chin. Despite the tension caused by Henry’s traditional Chinese family, who see Maggie as a distraction, it is Henry cheating off of Maggie's test that causes their relationship to end.[12] Bianca, also a student at the university, cheers Maggie up. Still looking for romance, she begins dating Lena Kundera (Olga Sosnovska), and becomes oblivious to Maggie’s signs of jealousy.[14]

In 2003, summer, Bianca is raped by Michael Cambias (William deVry);[27] Maggie helps her through the mental anguish during the aftermath,[28] and Bianca keeps the rape a secret from everyone else. She attributes her change in attitude to her ended relationship with Lena.[21] Maggie tries to persuade her to go to the police, but Bianca convinces Maggie not to talk to them, saying that she will not either.[21]

When Michael avoids punishment for raping Bianca and she relays to Maggie that she is pregnant with Michael's child, Maggie buys a gun and secretly plans to kill him.[25] Bianca decides that she will keep the baby. Fearing that her mother, Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), will resent her baby due to having been raped before as well, Bianca decides that she is going to leave town to give birth to the child and inform everyone on her return that she adopted. Erica finds out about her pregnancy, however, and encourages her to have an Abortion for her own sake. Bianca says that she will, but secretly changes her mind. During this time, Kendall finds out, and she and Bianca grow close. The two forge a deep sisterly bond.[21]

Michael's dead body turns up before Maggie can kill him. It is revealed that as she stood outside Michael's condo, she saw two mysterious figures dragging a large bag from it, causing her to flee.[25] Everyone a suspect in Michael's murder at this point, Maggie tells Bianca that even though he deserved it, she could not have killed him in cold blood.
File:Maggie and Bianca (D).jpg

Over time, Maggie begins to show more signs that she desires Bianca, making excuses to distance herself from her after making flattering remarks about her appearance.[29][30] In 2004, Bianca announces to Maggie that she plans to move to Paris, so that she can give birth without her mother finding out, which causes Maggie to become emotional. Maggie confuses herself and Bianca when she kisses Bianca. Embarrassed, Maggie abruptly leaves the apartment. She is panicked and immediately has sex with Jamie Martin (Justin Bruening) upon fleeing.[25] When Maggie returns to the apartment the following morning, on Bianca's birthday, she tells Bianca that the kiss meant nothing.[31] Immediately after their talk, she begins dating Jamie,[25] as Bianca continues her romance with Lena.

Everyone becomes aware that Bianca is pregnant when it is revealed that her sister, who was covering for her, is not the pregnant one. The truth about Michael's death is soon unveiled, as it comes to light that Bianca killed Michael in self-defense, not remembering this until Michael's murder trial, where her sister and mother are both willing to confess to killing him. It turns out that the two figures Maggie saw that night at his condo were Kendall and one of Bianca's cousins, trying to protect Bianca.[25] The judge sees the painful ordeal Bianca has been through following her rape and Michael's death, and Bianca is not charged with any crime.[21] More strife, however, comes when Bianca is told that the baby she just gave birth to is dead. Maggie becomes even more of a support line for her, but Lena leaves town to care for her ailing mother back in Poland. Maggie eventually professes her love to Bianca, feeling that this is her "coming out" moment.[32] Bianca informs her that she does not want to begin a relationship with her because she is still in love with Lena and she does not want Maggie regretting her decision later. Hurt by Bianca’s rejection, as well as her distorted perception of Bianca's bond with Babe Carey (Alexa Havins), Maggie distances herself from Bianca and begins dating Jonathan Lavery (Jeff Branson).[7]

Maggie’s relationship with Jonathan becomes abusive, when Jonathan believes Maggie is secretly in love with Bianca. Jonathan intentionally tries to isolate Maggie from Bianca, and proposes marriage to her. Maggie agrees, but Jonathan’s jealousy turns physical against Maggie. Bianca becomes concerned with Maggie’s relationship, as she feels that something is off about it and later believes Maggie to have lied about a bruise on her face.[21] She visits Jonathan and Maggie’s home while Maggie is alone and tries to reason with her to leave him. Her emotions get the better of her and she kisses Maggie. She confesses that she has fallen in love with her.[33]

Initially dismissing Bianca’s declaration of love, Maggie learns the truth about Jonathan's abusive past with his previous girlfriend and dumps him. Free from Jonathan, Bianca and Maggie decide to move to Paris with Bianca’s newly-discovered-alive daughter, Miranda (Haley Evans), in February 2005.Template:Quote box

When Bianca returns for a Christmas visit to Pine Valley, she tells everyone that she and Maggie are an official couple in Paris,[34] advising Zach Slater (Thorsten Kaye) to be happy with Kendall, because she is very happy with Maggie. But when she returns again near Thanksgiving in 2006, bringing her daughter with her, she informs everyone that Maggie had an affair with a woman named Cecelia. Bianca says that she would still take Maggie back.[35] But during a phone call, it is clear that Maggie does not want that. Bianca is left further devastated, but still voices to wanting Maggie. However, when Maggie shows up in early 2007 on Bianca's doorstep wanting to renew their romance, Bianca does not,[36] and Maggie later has a confrontation with Zoe (Jeffrey Carlson), someone else who wants a romance with Bianca. Zoe is a transgender rockstar, biologically male, but identifying herself as a lesbian woman. Zoe asks Maggie how could she cheat on Bianca, and Maggie angers. Harsh words are exchanged between the two. Before the confrontation is over, Maggie warns Zoe not to hurt Bianca, but notes that Zoe will never be Bianca's type, regardless.[37]

On February 7 2007, Maggie meets with Bianca at a park and kisses her, and Bianca admits that she never stopped being in love with Maggie. Despite this, she agrees that Maggie should leave. She relays that she needs some time away from her, but that they can keep in touch through e-mails. Bianca informs her that there is still a chance that they may once again be together. Maggie hugs Bianca. "You were my first love," she says, and confesses, "You're my everything," and walks away.[38]

Cultural impactEdit

File:SIDcover-bam.jpg

As one of the few lesbian romances depicted on daytime television,[39] Bianca Montgomery and Maggie Stone's romance gave lesbian viewers a pairing they could relate to, and inspired closeted lesbian viewers to reveal their sexuality.[15] In addition, the romance was appreciated by heterosexual fans.[15]

Bianca was the first major character on a soap opera to come out as gay or lesbian.[3] All My Children was consistently nominated thereafter by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for its "fair, accurate, and inclusive portrayal" of a lesbian teenager and her mother's process of coming to terms with her daughter's homosexuality.[3]

However, until recently Bianca fell exclusively for straight or unattainable women, preventing her from having an on-screen girlfriend. GLAAD Director of Communications, John Sonego, contends that "Many young, newly out lesbians fall for a close friend, only to discover the friend is straight" and that on television "unrequited love...and heartbreak are what keep the viewers tuning in — and learning".[3] Initially, Maggie, who continually asserted her heterosexuality, seemed to be a continuation of this trend.[3]

BAMEdit

While GLAAD was pleased with Bianca's lesbian storyline, awarding her their Favorite Out Image of the Year Award,[40] two years of no on-screen romance frustrated fans who supported a relationship between Bianca and Maggie; these fans formed a shipping community that came to refer to the match-up as "BAM" (for Bianca and Maggie). BAM fans were vocal and persistent in campaigning to writers and executive producers of All My Children for inclusion of the relationship, sending letters, videos, T-shirts, and roses.[3]

File:Elizabeth Hendrickson in her AMC dressing room-Absolut BAM poster-Main.jpg

BAM fans sent gifts to Hendrickson and Riegel. "I won't work for several days and then I'll come back and my room is filled with boxes. It's hysterical!" exclaimed Hendrickson, who cited her favorite gift as being her "Absolute BAM" poster, a reference to Absolut Vodka,[41] and also confirmed receiving a wooden clock labeled "TIME FOR BAM!" [3][8] Riegel received the gifts positively as well: "[BAM] sent me and Liz [Hendrickson] this big package with presents, hats and posters that say 'Absolute BAM'. All of them wrote us these wonderful notes about what the characters and the storyline means to them. I don't know how this happened, but I'm incredibly inspired and energized by it."[4] For her July 3 birthday, Hendrickson encouraged fans to donate to an animal shelter in her town instead of shower her with additional gifts.[41]

Most dramatically, BAM fans raised money to launch a blimp to hover above the building; this plan was not completed.[41]

Their efforts drew the attention of leading soap opera magazines, which frequently commented on the widespread fan support for Bianca and Maggie's relationship; they were voted "Best Non-Couple" of the year by readers in the December 31 2002 Soap Opera Digest issue.[3]

LGBT newspaper The Advocate took notice to the pairing's support. "Ironically, the move to provide Bianca with a girlfriend might disappoint the fans who've been cheering the most for it," stated Web Behrens of the paper in her April 29 2003 article. "When our lesbian protagonist finally gets her groove on, it won't be with Maggie, who flirted with Bianca for months. That potential pairing spawned a devoted fan club, BAM! (an acronym of the characters' initials), who lobbied the network in really inventive ways, even mailing Bianca-and-Maggie valentines. But the object of Bianca's affection will instead be the mysterious bisexual Lena (played by Olga Sosnovska), a newcomer to the fictional town of Pine Valley."[42]

Jean Dadario Burke, the show's executive producer at the time, was noted as saying, "There was wonderful chemistry with Bianca and Maggie."[42] But Brian Frons, now head of ABC Daytime, gave thoughts to somewhat base his reasoning for not going through with the Bianca and Maggie romance when demand for it was the most prominent:

"Rather than trust that momentum, 'cowardly network people that we are, we did some research.' After polling 1,500 soap fans about Bianca's love life, the network found that many viewers wanted Bianca to have a romance — with someone else."[42]

The assessment made by Frons did not entirely seem to add up when compared to a previous article earlier in the year citing the Bianca and Maggie fanbase as one that kept growing bigger, at an unprecedented level in American daytime soap opera history for a homosexual pairing,[4] and were being more and more vocal about what they wanted. The particular report proved true when fans of the romance became known as "a huge die-hard following" by the media.[43][44] Three years after his 2003 comments, Frons titled Bianca and Maggie the supercouple of daytime.[10]

To enable others, particularly new viewers to the series, with easy access to the Bianca and Maggie storyline, BAM fans launched what they call "BAMChannel" on the video sharing site YouTube. The channel chronicles Bianca and Maggie's relationship, from their first meeting to their recent status, as well as Bianca's relationship with Maggie's deceased twin, Frankie. The videos are listed in chronological order on the channel's playlists, with years attached to each set of scenes for viewers to know and choose which period of the couple's relationship they are witnessing.[45]

Maggie's sexualityEdit

Substantial reasoning fans in the poll Frons alluded to on the matter of Maggie may have wanted to see Bianca with another woman was likely due to Maggie's ambiguous nature during her early relationship with Bianca. Fans had to wonder on more than one occasion whether or not Maggie was gay,[46][47] which spun into heated debate over whether Maggie or Lena was better romantically suited for Bianca.[48]

Hendrickson weighed in on her character's perplexing mixed signals: "There's a huge question mark hanging over her head, isn't there? But I think that almost any woman at that age [has one]. I think every woman and every man, at some point at their life... It's only natural to think twice about your sexual orientation."[15]Template:Quote box

Maggie's sexual identity managed to perplex the soap opera media as well,[49][50][51] who usually have a good grasp on the psyche of soap opera characters. But in this case, their confusion led to even Soaps In Depth putting Bianca and Maggie on the cover of a 2003 October issue detailing November storylines with the caption "Together At Last!", though the actual article did not document an opportunity of a romantic relationship between the two.[50]

In a Soap Opera Weekly issue, editor Carolyn Hinsey and Soap Opera Digest/All My Children editor Mara Levinsky sat down to debate Maggie's sexual orientation.[49] Hinsey felt that Maggie was a "flip-flopper" and that it was odd that she could "jump between the sexes" as quickly as she did when, in reality, she wanted Bianca. Levinsky argued Maggie's confusion and frustration. "She's on the rebound, and as likely if not likelier to go out with a guy to try to forget Bianca than a girl," Levinsky stated. "Maggie knows she's attracted to Bianca, but Bianca is the only girl she's ever been attracted to."[49]

From the point of Maggie's debut on the series, however, her sexual interaction with guys was consistently scripted to be in direct response to denial of her feelings for Bianca or what she felt was rejection on Bianca's part toward her.[7] It would not be until years later (see below, Return) that Maggie's attraction to women would be revealed to be about more than Bianca.

Chemistry and specific media interestEdit

Bianca and Maggie's romantic chemistry has been praised by critics, who deemed themselves fans as well. The press displayed feelings of being cheated out of opportunities to see the pairing's chemistry play to its fullest as much as the average audience did.

TV Guide soap opera columnist Michael Logan dubbed the non-relationship as "Rip-Off of the Year" in his January 4 2003 roundup of "The Worst of 2002", simply stating:

AMC teased and titillated us mercilessly with the flirtatious sparks between openly gay Bianca (Eden Riegel) and her buddy Maggie (Elizabeth Hendrickson), but the show — once famous for its boldness — didn't have the guts to put them in a real romance, even though the fans are begging for it. C'mon, AMC! These two have more chemistry than any boy-girl duo in soaps![3]

Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com, an online magazine, expressed her thoughts about the never-ending sexual tension between Bianca and Maggie as well, detailing that "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. The two characters have exchanged intimate gazes and frolicked provocatively in countless scenes, the tension becoming so unbearable that frustrated fans formed BAM."[52]

Riegel and Hendrickson were asked by Soap Opera Digest what they thought accounted for their on-screen chemistry. While Riegel replied that "chemistry can't be faked, and when two people like each other, there's an energy between them that's undeniable", Hendrickson stated, "When I started, my friends were telling me what great chemistry we had, and I didn't notice it. But now that I've worked with probably half the cast, I realize what amazing chemistry we have together. I'll have to work with men and really, I'm heterosexual, but I have more chemistry with her! I'm trying to have romances with boys, but I don't know, I just feel it with her!"[15]

On June 13 2004, New York Daily News (the fifth largest daily newspaper in the United States) became another aspect of the media taking interest in the love story, when they reported the week in which Maggie would finally admit to being in love with Bianca.[53] The news was followed by soap opera press covering the event as well. "It's the moment BAM fans have been waiting for on All My Children, but thought would never come: Maggie finally 'fesses up to Bianca about her true feelings for her 'best friend'," announced Soap Opera Digest.

Hendrickson was among those most excited about the revelation. She exulted, "It's about time!"[53] She could not believe her eyes when she read the dialogue for her character: "When I read the scene where Maggie tells Bianca she loves her, I was sure that the next day, Maggie would backpedal like she always does, like, 'I meant, "I love you as a friend."' I was so excited to get the next script and find out that she doesn't backpedal. She's honest, forward and open about her feelings. It took her two-and-a-half years, but she does it!"[53]Template:Quote box

Despite Maggie confessing her feelings to Bianca, Bianca would be the one to turn down their chance this time, expressing that her heart, in the romantic sense, belonged to Lena.[53]

The performance by Hendrickson in the scenes were praised by soap opera critics, who felt that it added new depth to the character.[54][55]

One year later, Bianca and Maggie's second kiss (their first having taken place the previous year) was ranked #4 on TV Guide's list of the best same-sex kisses on television.[56]

MerchandisingEdit

File:SOAPnet BAM ID bracelet.jpg

On November 1 2004, SOAPnet, described as the new way to watch soaps, launched shopsoapnet.com. An on-line shopping boutique which offers customers SOAPnet-themed items, including products from its original programs I Wanna Be A Soap Star and Soap Talk, as well as exclusive SOAPnet-brand merchandise. SOAPnet stated that they are always looking for unique ways to put a new twist on a long-loved genre. One aspect of their marketing was to make popular soap opera couples a part of the equation. With Bianca and Maggie's visibility as one of the more longed for couples, ABC saw part of their market. "Soap opera fans have a history of supporting character couples and giving their favorite couples nicknames that combine the letters of the characters' names. For example, fans of a Nikolas and Emily pairing on General Hospital refer to the couple as 'NEM'. Shopsoapnet.com will honor this tradition by offering limited edition bracelets engraved with a few of these popular couple names including NEM and BAM. BAM honors a Bianca and Maggie pairing on All My Children," the press release stated.[57]

The Bianca and Maggie (BAM) ID bracelet originally went on sale for $14.95,[58] as seen in the ABC TV Store with the advertisement of the couple's star-crossed predicament:

BAM bracelet — All My Children’s Bianca and Maggie (BAM) may not be a soap super couple...YET! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show your support for the intriguing duo that can’t quite seem to get together (it’s like they’re distracted or something) with this stylish brushed-pewter/nickel plated ID emblem featuring engraved lettering, a 6 ¾" velvet strap in forest green and adjustable chain strap. Limited edition.[59]

DepartureEdit

Sarah Warn of AfterEllen.com, a website that focuses on the portrayal of lesbians and bisexual women in the media, had previously commented on All My Children taking a step back in giving Bianca a romance. Addressed was Bianca's pregnancy with Miranda, and Warn feeling that "since it almost assures Bianca's continued asexuality in the near future, the pregnant-lesbian storyline is a favorite refuge for TV writers who both want to avoid dealing with the sexual aspects of lesbian relationships and who want to 'normalize' the lesbian characters — to show viewers that, at their core, lesbians are just like heterosexual women". With sarcasm apparent, Warn further added, "Who of course, all want to be mothers."[50]

When Riegel and Hendrickson left their roles of Bianca and Maggie together in 2005, with their characters being written out as possible lovers, Warn's tone remained bitter, citing Bianca and Maggie's progression toward romance only after leaving television screens. However, Warn did weigh in on positive memories regarding the pairing. The article was titled "The End of a Lesbian Era on All My Children". First initiated was a farewell to the pairing: "Today, as All My Children airs its final episode with actresses Eden Riegel and Elizabeth Hendrickson (who have left the series to try their luck elsewhere), we say goodbye to one of American television's longer-running lesbian storylines — a storyline which has alternately entranced, infuriated, delighted and frustrated viewers over the last four and a half years."[39]

As to Bianca and Maggie's star-crossed dynamic, a point was brought up that "while stringing out romantic storylines for maximum drama is appropriate and even expected in daytime television, it is also expected that, eventually, star-crossed couples do get together".[39]

ReturnEdit

In early 2007, viewers watched as Bianca relayed news that Maggie cheated on her. Bianca fled back to Pine Valley, and Maggie soon followed to plead for her forgiveness. Viewers felt that it was out of character for Maggie to cheat on Bianca.[60][61] Fans were not the only ones angered. Soap Opera Weekly magazine's January 23 2007 issue quoted Hendrickson as saying that she found out that Maggie cheated on Bianca by watching the show (since her character had not returned to Pine Valley at the time). "I was screaming and yelling at the TV. I was very upset. It was a huge shock to me," she relayed.[62] Although, there was something Hendrickson was pleased about with the storyline of Maggie returning to chase after Bianca — Maggie's sexuality. It was apparent that Maggie had come to terms with being a lesbian. While upset that Maggie cheated on Bianca, Hendrickson was content that Maggie cheated on Bianca with a woman, confessing that she had always felt that Maggie was leaning more toward the women than the men; she relayed her happiness about the writers having made a decision about Maggie's sexuality.[62] Soaps In Depth also sought to clear up Maggie's sexual orientation when they cited her as a lesbian while recapping her history the week of her return.[63]

Maggie being complete in her sexuality with Bianca was something that viewers had wanted for years, but this new side to Maggie was tainted with the storyline of her unfaithfulness. Unlike Hendrickson, Riegel found the news of Maggie's betrayal refreshing: "It's so funny how the fans are all up in arms like, 'Maggie would never cheat!' When they told me Maggie was cheating, I went like, 'Woo hoo!' because an actor wants interesting stuff to play."[60] Riegel approached the matter in humor and seriousness: "Oh yeah, Maggie's a slutty lesbian!" Riegel laughed, adding that "because Bianca has now lost this love, she's looking to reinvent herself and looking for answers".[60]

Another element agitating the audience during and after Maggie's return was Bianca's romantic attraction to transgender Zarf/Zoe. Zarf/Zoe was still of the male form, and viewers felt that it was a clear and underhanded way for the show to romantically pair Bianca with a "man" while getting around the reality of Zarf/Zoe's anatomy.[61]

Victoria A. Brownworth of the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc., a free weekly newspaper serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) communities, found the storyline to be what she cited as a mess.[64] Brownworth felt that it had an unhealthy angle to it, and made several comments voicing her and her publication's detest toward the romance.[65]Template:Quote box

TV Guide named Zarf/Zoe, as well as her storyline, one of the worst of 2007.[66]

Maggie eventually returned to Paris at Bianca's request, but with a hint that they may once again be united. "Bianca still loves her," former head writer Megan McTavish assured the audience. "And yet, at the same time, I don't think it's a given that you necessarily forgive the person who cheated on you. So Maggie has an uphill climb."[67]

CriticismEdit

Though the romance received positive criticism, there was a part of the audience that saw it as detrimental to both characters, citing that it reinforced the notion that straight women can be "converted" by lesbians, or that lesbians and straight women cannot be friends without sex becoming an issue between them.[48]

Particularly, the topic of what message All My Children was sending with the storyline was brought into question.[48] Was it a storyline about two women in a platonic relationship, where one woman within the relationship fights the fact that she is gay and ends up with the woman she romantically desires? Or was it about two women in a platonic relationship, where the lesbian in the relationship waits long enough and the straight woman she romantically desires eventually becomes hers? The need viewers had for the show to tell the storyline, a controversial one, responsibly was there.[48] A significant portion of lesbian viewers, while watching Bianca and Maggie's dilemma, remembered how, in their own lives, they lost friendships, were subjected to acts of violence, and family estrangement because of the false belief that all gay/lesbian people are out to "turn" straight people to "their side" and are malicious in trying.[48]

There were a number of message board postings from people who were scared or angered by the possibility of a Bianca and Maggie romance due to the fact that it caused bad memories in significant detail to resurface for them in real-life.[48] It was addressed that it had not been that long for some gays and lesbians that "they could walk out of a bar after a night of fun and dancing and not worry about who was watching them leave".[48]

Sentiment was expressed by Laura N. Cook of The Advocate that "despite assurances to the contrary, the show used Bianca's rape to marginalize Bianca's lover, Lena, and completely cut her out of Bianca's healing and recovery, while having Bianca's 'friend', Maggie, ponder her sexuality again, which added insult to injury".[42]

For the fansEdit

Due to the continual fan support and demand for the pairing, Riegel and Hendrickson agreed to do a video blog interview with AfterEllen.com vlogger Bridget McManus on her show Brunch With Bridget, where they answered questions most queried by viewers and acted out desired scenes regarding the couple. The episode aired on May 4 2008, and coincided with Hendrickson and Riegel's new web series Imaginary Bitches.[68] McManus started off the interview asking the actresses how both felt about the writers having Maggie be unfaithful to Bianca. "I was totally upset about it. Are you kidding me?!" Riegel stated. "I was really surprised. But you know...Maggie's been confused, so it's not entirely surprising, but... I was...yeah... Those were hard scenes to do... We were both, like, genuinely upset," she continued.[68] Hendrickson had acknowledged her displeasure with the storyline in an earlier interview (cited above), and agreed, also mentioning Maggie's sexual confusion.[68]

When asked about the emotional impact of Bianca and Maggie's scenes together, how the actresses cry on cue, Riegel cited their close friendship. "It's easy for me to cry around Lizzie because I have real feelings for her. And I can imagine...'Oh, my god. This person that I love so much doesn't love me back.'"[68] McManus noted how some viewers seem to think that Maggie and Bianca are real, alluding to their questions being more so addressed to the characters themselves rather than the actresses. Riegel and Hendrickson laughed and agreed, as McManus read one letter asking "Maggie" how she felt about her breakup with Bianca.[68] McManus followed up the query questioning whether Hendrickson receives hate mail for her character's cheating. "No, I don't get hate mail... Probably, I just never read it. But they just love me so much, they know that I'm not in control of what's written." [68]

Fans of the pairing often come up with their perfect scenarios for the couple, and Riegel and Hendrickson were asked if they could create their own storyline for the pairing, what would Bianca and Maggie be doing right now. Riegel looked to the camera with a grin: "Well, I think we'd be in bed together." The comment took place just as a fire truck siren went off in the background. "See? We're so hot, it's illegal," Riegel joked.[68]

McManus pondered the question of Maggie's deceased twin sister, Frankie, and what Frankie and Maggie's parents might have thought about having two lesbian daughters. Hendrickson relayed that they would have been proud, while McManus took humor in noting the opposite of her own coming out experience.[68]

"It's obvious that you two have no issue playing gay or bisexual characters, so what is the biggest obstacle for you guys, obstacles to Bianca and Maggie being a couple in a relationship and seeing the relationship onscreen? And would you ever play gay again?" one fan queried. Riegel smiled. "Yes," she acknowledged. Hendrickson followed up, "We just did," citing earlier interaction between the two where they acted out Bianca and Maggie's first meeting. "Yes. Uh... Yes, to the second question, but the first question I don't know. It was very complicated," Riegel elaborated.[68] Asked if they had any issues with the roles, Hendrickson detailed her issue with the fact that the show would not let them use tongue during their kisses. McManus gasped in mock. "They wouldn't let you use tongue?!" she expressed.[68] "Not on my show, goddamn it. You make out right now!" Hendrickson and Riegel found humor in the subject. They recalled their experience in detail. "We had this kissing scene that we got so into," Riegel stated.[68] "Yeah," Hendrickson interjected. "And they said cut." Hendrickson briefly took on a snob-like mock voice, relaying the moment: "Excuse me, we're going to have to do it again because we saw tongue."[68] McManus questioned whether heterosexual characters show tongue. "Um, try ménage à trois," Hendrickson pointed out.[68] "In the shower. Or a man with a brother and sister... And a sister? God, no. Two brothers and one woman. And the horrible — did you see that air show?" Hendrickson looked to Riegel.[68] "We had this lame little kiss, then cut to Kendall and, um, Ryan mauling each other," Hendrickson continued. Riegel agreed. Hendrickson further cited how the scene "literally" went from their kiss to Ryan and Kendall's smooch. Riegel stated that it was as if Ryan was devouring Kendall's face, the scene was so explicit.[68] McManus questioned Riegel why she thinks it is that the heterosexual couples were granted more passionate kisses than they were. "Uh... You know... I tell ya... I think they're a couple of reasons," Riegel started off.[68] "I don't think that you can necessarily say, you know, that they were scared of it...because I think they didn't want to turn people off because they wanted people to invest in the story. And they thought, 'Well, if we go too far...' Like, they were afraid that people who had — who didn't know gay people, and this was very knew to them..."[68] Hendrickson nodded her agreement. "You know. So I think that was admirable," Riegel continued. "And I think as we went, we got more into it, and they let us kiss more and there was more whatever..."[68]

Riegel cited a nice kissing scene between Bianca and Lena Kundera, and voiced that she remembered thinking why more scenes between gay/lesbian couples could not be like that, where it is no big deal and not heavily advertised.[68] Hearing Lena's name brought resentment from Hendrickson, however, who felt that Lena stole everything from Maggie, such as the first lesbian kiss on an American soap opera, Bianca herself, and humorously rattled off how Lena was taller than her, as well as other attributes Lena had that she did not have as Maggie.[68] Riegel interjected to point out that despite all that, Maggie had won Bianca's heart in the end.[68]

Addressing the fact that the characters are still in demand, McManus asked if the two get mobbed by fans or approached by women looking for romance thinking that they are lesbians in real life. "Well, actually, one time I was in this big gay club right over in the area, and all of a sudden, apparently, I was in a serious relationship with a woman," Hendrickson revealed.[68] Riegel was unaware of the rumor, and McManus questioned if it was the press that started it.[68] "No, someone on the Internet was saying, 'Elizabeth was at — and I saw her with a girl...and I was with Ally and we were just hanging out.'"[68] Hendrickson laughed that fans are always speculating that she is gay based on the pictures she takes, saying that they make comments such as "Liz's pictures are always with her girlfriends", "she always has her leg around them", or "she's always, like, sexually with her girlfriends, maybe she's a lesbian". Hendrickson admitted her surprise, stating, "And I was like, I just like to take risque pictures. I'm just really horny. Sorry."[68] Riegel laughed: "She's not a lesbian. She's just non-discriminating."[68]

Riegel and Hendrickson detailed how portraying gay characters has not harmed their acting careers,[68] and Hendrickson cited how the fact even helps her acquire new roles once the job interviewers hear about her former characters.[68]

McManus concluded the interview regarding Bianca and Maggie's love story with a scene she had the actresses act out, where Bianca and Maggie are reunited for fans of the series. Included were two passionate kisses and other suggestive moments.[68] Earlier in the interview, Riegel stated that she likes to think that Bianca and Maggie are back living together in Paris.[68] However, on September 18 2008, Bianca's return to the series without Maggie was reported. Hendrickson currently stars on The Young and the Restless, and Bianca will have a new female lover.[69]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  67. "February 5th - Week 3.5 of BAM", Soaps In Depth, 2007-02-05. Retrieved on 2007-10-04.  She cried mea culpa, clashed with Zoe and ultimately returned solo to France. Unfortunately, BAM fans, Maggie appears to have left the building. Try though she might, AMC's Maggie can't seem to convince her ex, Bianca, that her cheating days are over. After begging for forgiveness and pitching in at Fusion, Mags makes her lonely exit on Wednesday, February 7. Is this the end for AMC's Sapphic supercouple? "Bianca still loves her," headwriter Megan McTavish assures the audience. "And yet, at the same time, I don't think it's a given that you necessarily forgive the person who cheated on you. So Maggie has an uphill climb." Ms. Stone's ambiguous exit leaves viewers wondering whether she'll return, yet an AMC rep says nothing is planned at this time.
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External linksEdit

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