The number one soap opera on daytime TV has earned a new title or two.
The Daily Beast's Tim Teenan has named a recent scene on The Young and the Restless as "One of TV's Best LGBTQ Moments of the Year." We think it just might be "One of Daytime TV's Best LGBTQ Moments Ever."
The scene took place on August 16th during Lola Rosales (Sasha Calle) and Kyle Abbott's (Michael Mealor) wedding reception, when a traditional bouquet toss turned into a game of divorcee hot potato that led to a sweet moment between Mariah Copeland (Camryn Grimes) and her partner, Tessa Porter (Cait Fairbanks).
The bouquet, tossed to the wedding guests by new bride Lola Rosales Abbott landed first in Abby Newman's (Melissa Ordway) hands, and she quickly flung it to Summer Newman (Hunter King) as if it was on fire. Summer then quickly passed the flower arrangement to her mom, Phyllis Summers (Michelle Stafford), who then volleyed it over to Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson). Ashley wasn't willing to hold onto the bouquet, either, so she lobbed it into Mariah's arms. Mariah, flabbergasted, looked to her equally surprised girlfriend, Tessa, then the two women shrugged and, with Mariah still cradling the flower bundle, kissed to the unanimous clapping and cheering of the other wedding guests.
The Daily Beast called the scene "a brief, well-written, beautifully directed scene, with the crowning cherry of its LGBTQ import." The moment was comedic and romantic as well as a nod to the marriage history of the single female characters of Genoa City, but it was also, as many fans on social media have speculated, potential foreshadowing of future wedding bells for the couple that Twitter has dubbed "Teriah." It's unsurprising that fans and press alike saw the scene as significant, given the history of LGBTQ couples on soap operas, especially for same-sex pairings between two women.
The relationship between Mariah and Tessa isn't the first female same-sex pairing on a soap opera; All My Children made history in December 2000 when Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) told her mother, Pine Valley matriarch Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), that she was gay and had been dating a woman (Elisabeth Harnois as Sarah Livingston). Bianca went on to make history two more times with the first lesbian kiss on American daytime TV in April 2003 (with Olga Sosnovska as Lena Kundera), in addition to the first legal same-sex wedding on daytime TV, when Bianca married Reese Williams (Tamara Braun) in February 2009.
CBS, the network that airs The Young and the Restless, has been host to other LGBTQ pairings on its daytime soap operas, as well. On As the World Turns in 2007, Luke Snyder (Van Hansis) and Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann), became the first teen same-sex couple and first gay male kiss in American soap opera history; Guiding Light brought together Olivia Spencer (Crystal Chappell) and Natalia Rivera (Jessica Leccia) in 2008; and The Bold and the Beautiful revealed in 2015 that Maya Avant (Karla Mosley), who was in a relationship with a cisgender man, was a transgender woman, making her the first regular transgender character in the history of American daytime television.
The Young and the Restless brought a gay character on the canvas back in 2009, when Yani Gellman played the show's first LGBTQ character, attorney Rafe Torres. But that pairing wasn't without conflict. Chris Engen, who portrayed Adam Newman (then known as Adam Wilson) allegedly walked off the show in protest over an upcoming storyline between Adam and Rafe after learning that his character was going to be getting intimate with another man.
Part of what makes the bouquet catch moment between Mariah and Tessa not only worthy of being named "One of TV's Best LGBTQ Moments of the Year," but also memorable as One of Daytime's Best LGBTQ Moments Thus Far, is that when looking back at past LGBTQ pairings, the Teriah coupling is a departure from the common queer tropes. On All My Children, Bianca's girlfriend Maggie (Elizabeth Hendrickson) cheated on her, her wife Reese cheated on her with her brother-in-law, and then her girlfriend (when Bianca was played by Christina Bennett Lind) Marissa (Sarah Glendening) was shot and killed by Marissa's jealous ex-husband in the series finale; on Guiding Light, Olivia and Natalia became known for their forehead kisses and implied intimacy, only finally becoming a couple just before the soap ceased production in 2009; and General Hospital's coupling between Kristina Corinthos (Lexi Ainsworth) and her professor Parker Forsyth (Ashley Jones) ended off-screen in 2018, after a year-and-a-half-long troubled relationship, told in scattered episodes.
Same-sex male relationships seemingly have had happier endings than the female couples on daytime TV. On Day of our Lives, Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) and Will Horton (Chandler Massey) are still going strong and were recently remarried; on One Life to Live, Oliver Fish (Scott Evans) and Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell) rode off into the sunset with their child, bound for happily ever after; and on As the World Turns, even after Luke's boyfriend Reid Oliver (Eric Sheffer Stevens) died, the groundwork was laid for a reunion between Luke and Noah in the final episodes before the soap ended its run.
The Young and the Restless has positioned itself as the only soap opera to portray a same-sex relationship between two women that has shown intimacy between the characters with kissing and a sex scene while not having one of the characters cheat on the other with a man or break up with her partner off-screen. Nor has it killed off either side of the pairing. The Daily Beast says of the couple, "in recent months [...] Mariah and Tessa made fuller sense as a couple, and behaved like one, and it's a testament to Camryn Grimes and Cait Fairbanks [...] they have given 'Teriah' the kind of spark that makes fans root for a soap couple."
In 2015, The Young and the Restless actor Greg Rikaart, who plays Kevin Fisher, expressed that he would like to see Kevin in a gay relationship on the soap. Elizabeth Hendrickson, who plays Kevin's wife Chloe, and who also played twins Frankie and Maggie Stone on All My Children from 2002 to 2007, told Soap Central "those are stories that are being told right now, and for a reason. That's what's happening in people's lives. I mean, a lot of people are living a certain life for a very long time, thinking that's the life that they should live, and then all of a sudden realizing they've been living a lie. And I'd rather tell those stories. I'd rather help people. You know, I think the biggest thing I ever got out of entering daytime was playing [All My Children's lesbian character] Frankie and playing that at a time where it was not as accepted as it is today. And to think I was able to pave the way for certain people at that time is the biggest compliment of my career so far."
In 2017, when Mariah was struggling with her feelings for Tessa, it was her best friend Kevin (Greg Rikaart) who she confided in first. Rikaart left the show in May 2017, just two months before Mariah and Tessa shared their first kiss. Camryn Grimes later won her second Daytime Emmy for Mariah's coming out storyline. Rikaart went on to portray a gay character, Leo Stark, on Days of our Lives from 2018 to March of this year, returning to The Young and the Restless earlier this summer as still-straight Kevin.
Maybe Kevin will still be in town to see his friend Mariah marry Tessa in an episode that would surely bump the bouquet toss scene from its number one spot. After all, the scene in and of itself seems to point "to a more open and declarative future for Mariah and Tessa," as the Daily Beast speculated. If nothing else, we agree with the article that it was a well-done scene, and it "was great to see the kiss, the women together and in love, so centrally placed and acknowledged."
Y&R might also be receiving more praise in the near future. On the September 13 episode, Tessa refers to herself as gay -- and notes that she and Mariah are in a committed relationship. It's the first time that's ever happened in Genoa City.
Do you agree that the Mariah-Tessa kiss was a highlight of the year? Have your personal views of same-sex relationships on soaps evolved over the years? We'd like to know why or why not. So share your thoughts by any of the methods below.