TV Guide reports that All My Children is concluding the Zoe/Bianca storyline on April 26. The controversial MTF transgender/lesbian romantic storyline has been collecting viewers, but both actors have other commitments and were signed to short term contracts. Since late 2006, Eden Riegel has reprised her role as Bianca (Binks or Binx) Montgomery, and Jeffrey Carlson was cast as the rock star Zarf, who came out as the female Zoe. Riegel was working on the N.Y. based show while living in California, and Carlson is beginning Hamlet in Washington D.C. in June. Still, it's sad to say goodbye to the brightest stars in an increasingly dull show.
Though daytime drama fans may have a reputation for conservatism, horror at the idea of a man who is a woman inside isn't all the rumpus surrounding Zinks. AMC has always been socially progressive, and used lesbianism in a story in 1983, an AIDS story in 1987, and Bianca coming out in 2000. AMC has received GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Daily Drama in 2002 and 2004, and again for 2007 just last week.
One of the issues for some Riegel fans is that the love story could have been between Binks and Maggie, played by Elizabeth Hendrickson. Back in 2001 the actresses were so hot that Hendrickson's Frankie character, who was basically a plot device created to be killed off, had to be recreated as a twin sister, Maggie. Fan response was unexpectedly warm to both actors and their characters, and an enduring fandom for BAM. Some (but not all) of these fans have a real hate-on for Zoe. It's partly because the show has been so poorly written in recent years.
Zarf's arrival in Pine Valley coincided with one of those idiotic serial killer sweeps plots soap writers resort to when cast salaries rise and imaginations fail. By the time the dust settled this year and Zarf was Zoe, a beloved character Dixie, who had returned after years was callously dispatched, along with 6 cast members great and small. Also Babe was supposed to be killed, but then actually turned out to be a survivor in hiding, another sweeps stunt i've seen trickle up to prime time this year. The killer was revealed to be a supposedly dead, tiresome character with completely baffling motivation, even for daytime drama. But there was an upside. You can see Zoe singing at Dixie and Babe's funeral here.
During Zarf's development as a character, but just before Zoe told us her name, a friend asked me if "he" could be the Satin Slayer. That, of course, would have been impossible, because no matter how craven the writers become, they will never portray their first trans character as a villain. In fact, when the writing is superficial and silly, Jeffrey Carlson's acting chops round it out and sell it. And in the time honored Agnes Nixon tradition, research is done, communities are consulted, and millions are educated and enlightened. Here's an unscripted scene at a transgender support group.
This level of intensity, propelled by powerful acting, generates a lot of passion. For the past several hours i've been lost on YouTube, going over fan videos asembled from AMC footage. The soundtracks may be Dixie Chicks, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park or Muse, but they all recognize the universal need to find ourselves and where we belong. Below is one of my favorites is below - by Heather, using "Answer" by Sarah McLachlan. If it leaves you frustrated, here is one where they kiss!