ABC’s “All My Children” was supposed to introduce a transgender character on its November 30 show. It’s another new low for daytime television, otherwise known as the “soaps.” But it’s another first for the gay rights lobby, which has a stranglehold over much of the media. Perhaps the next step in this progression is for a character to come out as a pedophile simply exercising his or her “sexual orientation.”
“All My Children” is doing any and everything provocative to attract viewers and generate interest. According to the AP and Nielsen Media Research, the once popular daytime drama has seen its audience slip from 8.2 million in 1991-1992 to only about 3.1 million this past year. Going transgendered is supposed to attract viewers, possibly in the same way that people crane their necks to see a bloody traffic accident. The show wants to gain viewers by making us into voyeurs.
The new transgender character, a British rock star named Zarf, played by the American actor Jeffrey Carlson, begins gender reassignment surgery after kissing the regular series character Bianca Montgomery, played by Eden Rigel. The Bianca character is best known for being the first lesbian character with a regular role in a daytime soap opera after “coming out” in 2000.
In 2003, Rigel, who is not a lesbian in real life, was involved in the first same-sex kiss on a daytime soap. On the November 30 episode, the Zarf character was supposed to begin to question his sexuality after his on-screen kiss with Bianca upon learning she is a lesbian. That leads “him” to question his own sexual identity. It is a variation of the “If you can’t beat ’em, Join ’em” strategy.
This isn’t the first time entertainment television has introduced a transgender character. The Associated Press reports, “there have been a handful of post-surgical transgender characters in television shows, including a college professor in the 2001 prime-time CBS series “The Education of Max Bickford” and a model in the short-lived ABC soap opera “The City” in 1996� (and) Showtime’s “The L Word” currently features a character changing from a woman into a man.”
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which enforces acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in the media, has already come out in support of the transgender Zarf character. Damon Romine, GLAAD’s entertainment media director and consultant on the All My Children storyline, told the Associated Press, “Telling the story of a character’s transition from male to female is groundbreaking television.”
The AP reports that “All My Children” executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers “was looking for something new, and knows its audience is always interested in anything to do with sexuality.” Hanan Carruthers, was quoted as saying, “‘All My Children’ has a long-standing commitment to telling socially relevant stories that entertain and inform.” It would appear, homosexuality is now an entertaining, socially relevant story; at least if your show’s ratings are in decline.
Although “All My Children” has attempted to keep the storyline under wraps, it has been reported that producers have not yet decided whether the character will actually go through with the surgery and eventually be played by a woman. Even before the show had aired, it was not well received by the show’s remaining fans. On the soap’s official message board, several posters have already commented that adding a transgender character is “disgusting,” “pure garbage,” “immoral behavior” and done for “shock value.” Even the editor of Soap Opera weekly, Carolyn Hinsey, told the Associated Press, that the “All My Children” producers were “trying really hard and throwing a lot of desperate stuff against the wall to see what sticks.”
One poster onto the “All My Children” message board commented, “If the Zarf / Bianca story begins on Thursday then [that will be] my last day of watching�”
It would appear we will soon find out how many daytime soap opera viewers feel the same and simply change the channel rather than watch this “socially relevant” television first. For a time, though, more people might tune into the show, if only to see how bizarre and decadent television can get.