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Here Come the
Brides 

Here Come the
Brides 

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As All My Children's Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun) head for the altar, executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers signals trouble ahead -- but it's not what you might think.

Two women get hitched this Friday on ABC's daytime drama All My Children... but not without a hitch. Friday, February 13 -- continued on Monday the 16th -- marks another milestone for the long-running soap: Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) and Reese Williams (Tamara Braun) tie the knot in the first same-sex wedding ceremony on a soap.

AMC is known to be the leader in LGBT daytime TV. The show led the charge with the introduction of daytime's first lesbian character, played by Donna Pescow, in 1982, followed by the first lesbian kiss in 2003, the first transgender character in 2007, and even a few fizzled gay-male story line attempts in the 1990s.

Coming on the heels of Proposition 8's passage in California, and the recently enacted bans on same-sex marriage in other states, this latest story line is significant. Reese and Bianca are granted a legal union in the state of Connecticut, where marriage equality became a legal reality in late 2008.

But until the gals say "I do," many Advocate.com readers are keeping an eye on the budding relationship between Reese and her bride-to-be's brother-in-law, Zach Slater. Is AMC not prepared to let the gals walk off into the sunset together? Is there another sexual identity crisis just around the corner? Is a man going to come between these lady lovebirds?

To get the answers, Advocate.com went straight to the top and chatted with AMC executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers. She speaks candidly about the true intent behind the Bianca story line, lays some fears to rest, and previews the Valentine's Day wedding and a moment that will change the course of Reese and Bianca's relationship. But is it forever?

Advocate.com:Viewer concern among the LGBT community is that Reese will leave Bianca for Zach, and it has angered many who worry that she has feelings for him. How would you respond?Julie Hanan Carruthers: First of all, it's not true. I think what's confused in Reese's head is she has misinterpreted a friendship. Zach is one of the [few] people who have not kicked her to the curb, so to speak, in Pine Valley. She is a confused, insecure person at the moment. She has never wavered in her commitment to Bianca. It's solid. Reese has just had a lot of emotional stuff hit. Her family is rejecting and judging her... in both her family and Bianca's.

However, something happens right before Bianca and Reese's wedding that is a time bomb. The night before the wedding when Kendall, Zach's wife, nails her with a backhanded toast, Reese gets a little drunk, and the person who consoles her is Zach. It's a moment where she kisses him and then realizes, "Oh, my god, what the heck am I doing? The person I love is Bianca, and the person you love is Kendall. What just happened?" That moment is what unravels the world, and unravels it in a very "soap" way, dramatic and misunderstood, where someone tells somebody and it grows bigger than it ever was. The people who were involved have resolved it. When Reese says her vows to Bianca in that wedding, there is nothing more real. The problem is the audience that watches the show knows somebody saw something that shouldn't have been seen. They are legally married at the moment Bianca finds out.

Some fans were upset when it appeared that Reese might consider leaving Bianca for a man. She is not considering it. That's the audience rewriting what's there. It's not being written that way at all. Reese has never wavered in what she wants.

Even though Reese had a boyfriend in the past, whom we met on-air? Yes, but she was very clear about that. The reason she did not marry him is because she felt she was lying and going through the motions of what her family told her to do. And when she did come out as a lesbian, it was right before she was ready to make a commitment to this man. We have had in-depth scenes with the people who care about Bianca, being sure she was not someone to get Reese out of a bad relationship. It's never been about that. I don't know how to stress this more. Never has she played a moment of, "I want Zach more than I want Bianca," or "I would leave Bianca for Zach." He has literally just been a friend. Look, we tantalize in this genre. We do it whether we do it with heterosexual or homosexual couples. It's what the genre is.

If you were looking for conflict, did you consider a story where another woman tantalized Reese, having that be the thorn in their side? We are working within a canvas of people who are interrelated and connected. For our audience, it's always more powerful if it is someone you know well and would least expect. If we brought in a character out of nowhere, they would worry about Bianca, but they would not be invested in Reese at all, particularly now with Zach being the donor (for Bianca's baby with Reese). It complicates it in a delicious way.

You do get why people would be upset if Reese left Bianca for a man? I understand why they might be upset. As respectful and supportive as we are of the gay and lesbian community, the story is not just for them. The story is for a large audience. We are telling tantalizing soap stories. They do not always come off politically correct, as much as we are trying to be responsible. Do I understand it as a human being? Absolutely! And as an executive producer? Absolutely! Does that mean it would never ever be done? No. We are not doing it here now, but in a dramatic arena, it's an interesting story.

You moved their wedding from Pennsylvania and Pine Valley to Connecticut, where marriage is legal between same-sex couples, to stay true to life.When we committed to doing the wedding, it was important to do it in Connecticut. That way, we made everything legal and appropriate with the baby and the family. What we are doing is telling a story about people. People have flaws and they make mistakes, and it's how they overcome them. The way that they love is what makes you connect to them.

Bianca became mistrustful when she noticed the bond between Reese and Zach. She had gone through something similar with her ex-partner, Maggie. So fans have doubts that they will find happiness. It's going to have the ending everyone wants. But the journey to the ending is a rough one and that's what's making it so spectacular. I have to say, great credit is due to these two actresses. I believe every second that they love each other, even when there is the breakup after the wedding.

Reese seems to be a very complicated woman, and now she is going to have to earn her way back into Bianca's life, correct? She may not be the poster child to represent the lesbian women in the world. But at the same time, she is very responsible, as are the writers portraying a woman dealing with a crisis and trying to ground herself in her identity. In the spring, Bianca returns to give resolution to the story. The journey Reese has to take to earn Bianca's trust again is significant.

Give us a sneak peak into the wedding ceremony of Bianca and Reese. The wedding is spectacular, lovely and warm. It's one of those bittersweet, "Oh, my God, when is it going to happen" moments. It's beautiful. They have their first dance and it's very romantic.

GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano released this statement in honor of the milestone: "Bianca and Reese's wedding is a joyful day that countless people -- gay and straight alike -- dream of for themselves and the ones they love. It's a celebration of love, commitment, and family, and we're thrilled that All My Children's viewers will be able to experience the joy of that day right alongside them." How does it make you feel to hear that? It makes me very proud. It was very important to all of us. We pulled out all the stops on the wedding.

What about Erica Kane? Will she try to stop her daughter's wedding, since she has mistrusted Reese? Erica is being a supportive mom, and does not have a problem with Reese. Once Bianca has committed her love, Erica says, "I want you happy, and that's all I want." And Erica is not privy to anything that happened until Bianca is.

There have been numerous times that the two characters kiss full-on and are seen in bed together. It seems this has been integrated in the soap, instead of making it a major PR event. When I came to the show as EP, it was right after the first lesbian kiss between Lena and Bianca. That was almost six years ago. At the time it was a really big deal, and it was covered in the media as, "There was a lesbian kiss in daytime television." It was a huge milestone. I think the story we are telling now, and the way it's being accepted, is a very interesting commentary on the world.

Are you getting pushback from viewers? A little bit of pushback, but we have strong ratings right now. People aren't tuning out, because they are connected to the characters. I think the audience is more invested in the characters than the political statement, and quite frankly, that is how you open people's eyes.

When you went about laying out the story, did you just go with your gut instinct, or did you also do some significant research?We trusted our guts. We went with, "We are telling a love story and we are going to tell it like we tell a love story." So that was our guideline. As far as technical things, we don't know. For instance, does Reese have rights to the children? Is it automatic when they get married? Does she have to adopt? If Bianca carried Gaby, is Reese considered a parent? Does she have to get special papers to become a parent? Those types of legal issues we had to study, but as far as the human connection, we all went with what we do here.

Tell me what Eden's performance brings to the table? There is validity and an authenticity that she brings to her role. The viewers have been on this journey with her since she came out to her mother, and when she was raped and had Miranda, and then the baby was stolen from her. She has shown commitment to her identity and who she is with such grace and integrity, and she never wavers. What she brings to this story, besides her love and vulnerability, is strength when she feels betrayed. I told Eden this when she did the scenes in which it comes to her attention what happened the night before the wedding. She gives one of the most powerful performances I have seen by any actress.

And Tamara Braun (Reese) has been a revelation in this role.Tamara is walking a tightrope. She feels a lot of responsibility socially to tell this with integrity, and it's complex. You are getting all the feedback from the readers, and she is anticipating feedback that way. She wants to make sure she tells the story clearly, that she loves Bianca. I think Tamara has done a stupendous job. Both women have taken so much time and energy delivering performances, and spending time discussing these scenes almost ad nauseum to make sure that they are really portraying the complexity of this story in an honest way.

In closing, will we need hankies for the wedding?You'll need hankies in a good way. It's great! I have to say it's one of our better weddings.

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