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« It's Real This Time | Main | An Open Apology to the Assassins of the World »

May 18, 2015

The Lady & the... Hold On, What Just Happened?

(WARNING: much actual sincerity ahead.)

Full disclosure: today was going to be it. My revisits to both B&B and GH were going to end after today. GH because today is the last live episode and other than that novelty and the now-concluded Nurses Ball, it's clear the show is All Mob All The Time, which doesn't interest me in the least (more on GH in another post later!). B&B because I'd become so hopeless that they were going to find a way to tell Maya's story with any real sensitivity. So far, we'd heard her get misgendered a thousand times, watched her dead name get brought up repeatedly, had her trans status played for laughs by other characters with not-so-clever innuendo and outdated "she's a he!" jokes, sat around while the show perpetuated the dangerous myth that transgender people are somehow out to "trick" other people, and listened to the laughable notion that somehow a trans model would somehow rock the L.A. fashion scene, since Forrester Creations seems to be a fashion house hovering someplace in a small town in the 1950s. 

There were glimmers of hope: some characters showing compassion, Ridge mentioning that he knows several transgender models, bringing on an actual trans actor and activist (Scott Turner Schofield, who is very cool) and, most of all, that Maya's own dialogue actually made me believe someone was doing some research. She never used language like "used to be a man" or "born a boy," and did get several scenes where she told her story in a compelling way. 

And look, I get it. It had to be soapy. And moreover, even in a city and industry where this is hardly a shocking thing to come across, not everyone is going to be accepting. We don't live in a fantasy land of Kumbaya. Some people aren't going to get it, some people aren't going to like it, some people would make jokes. Characters having ignorant or thoughtless reactions to it doesn't mean that's the voice of the writers or the point of the story, of course. (Obviously Bill is going to be a dick about it, for instance. Bill's a dick. Ergo, Bill will be a dick about it.)

(Following that logic, we all also knew who was going to be a waffling, spineless douchenozzle about it, and was going to have the heart to see the problem with using that information against someone, but was not going to have the backbone to stop it.)

But the GIANT SKY FULL OF CASCADING ANVILS which was Rick's constant blathering on and on and on about how Maya was the world's ultimate example of femininity and, mostly, how she was as pure as the driven snow and would never tell a lie and INTEGRITY HONESTY ETC blah blah blah... well, add that to the fact that Rick is a megalomaniacal asshole to everyone else on the show, and basically we all assumed we were being giftwrapped Rick's Big Downfall complete with a frilly bow. Rick was so awful and annoying that they were setting the audience up to want him to totally freak out and melt down and just be completely humiliated by the news about his girlfriend.

So I was uncomfortable. I hated Rick, too, and wanted him to get taken down a hundred notches. But not like this. I even fantasized about how they could handle this in a way that might actual cement Rick and Maya as a real love story and actually give the story a surprising and refreshing turn. And suggested that, perhaps, this revelation and this new bond between Rick and Maya could humanize both of them and lead them to try to treat everyone else with a little more kindness. You know, growth!

But I was so sure. And I was pissed. And you know what? Feeling sanctimoniously outraged when watching a soap SUCKS. It's a soap! What a ridiculous thing to actually have festering moral anger about! It's supposed to be fun! I hate when I get all self-righteous. It's boring and it gives me a headache, and of course nobody else wants to hear about it.

So I was going to stop.

And then today happened.


Let's review. Bill... says some gross things and publishes the story outing Maya, because Bill has no morals or ethics to begin with so of course he does that. Nick (Maya's friend) goes to talk to Ridge about Maya's situation. Maya tells Rick in approximately 35 different ways that she was assigned male at birth, and finally Slick Rick gets it. He stares at her for a while. She knows why. Of course she knows.

Maya explains

Maya: It's okay to look at me. I know what you're looking for. But there's no boy here, and I was never a man. I did have what they call a tracheal shave, to reduce my Adam's apple. My forehead is smaller. My eyebrows are higher. They softened my jaw. I've always had this chin and this nose, and my voice has always been high. And there are other things too, that you don't need explained. [Thanks, show, for not stooping to that.  --Ed.] All of that was important to me but it... it didn't turn me into a different person. I am still exactly who you thought I was an hour ago.

Rick: The person I knew an hour ago would have told me when we first met. [Oh Rick, you mean how YOU were so honest with her when you first met? Ha. Haha. Hahaha.  --Ed.] Why didn't you?

Brooke and Eric talk about their worries. Brooke feels just terrible that Rick keeps being "betrayed" by the women in his life (well, he's drawn to women that remind him of Mommy?). Bill's employees are uncomfortable about the story, and one of them quits. "Maybe I'd like to work for an actual human being." Yes! That random awkward dude is my hero!

Ridge claims to be some sort of LGBT ally and criticizes Maya for not being out (that's... not really how being an ally works, Ridge, but okee dokes). Nick points out that she's not gay, and she is a woman, so it's not the same thing as someone leading a double life. And, in fact, it's private information that, if made public, might actually be quite dangerous. (Check out any statistics on violence against trans women of color and that pretty much illuminates everything.) "Coming out can make gay people feel whole, but disclosure can make us feel broken," Nick says. 

Rick's very angry, citing the fact that she definitely lied to him about the estrogen pills, and he brings up the fact that he wants a family. She confesses that she never told Carter either, which disgusts him. 

Rick is less than pleased

Bill yells at his employees to get this story out ASAP. Ridge insists to Nick that Maya chose the wrong guy, and Nick will find out tomorrow (i.e., after she's come out to Rick and, as Ridge assumes, he kicks her to the curb and probably waves a gun around and has a tantrum).

Maya has packed her bags to leave, but Rick demands that he deserves a conversation. He does mention the big "BETRAYAL" word, but she insists she was never false or unfaithful to him in action or intention. She tells him about her childhood, about having bought hormone pills on the street that led to terrible side effects, and how ultimately she got financial help from Jesse (which, as we know, ultimately led to her incarceration). 

Maya: You can ask me anything you want and I will answer. But nothing I say is truer than this: it is so hard to believe in yourself when you've been told your whole life that no one will love you. There's always this little disbelief just waiting for a weak moment. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't stronger sooner.

Oh man. That's good stuff right there. A little verklempt right here. Maya picks up her bag to leave but Rick says, "Wait."

Oh holy crap, Bill is reviewing the horrible headlines for his story. (I chuckle when I think of GLAAD organizing a mass boycott of his entire media empire.) Anyway, stupid puns and word play about Forrester in "TRANS-ition" and about who wears the "PANTS" in the family, and "Strange Bed-Fellows." Oh good grief. Bill wonders if the last one pushes the boundaries of good taste (oh Bill, honey, you crossed that line long ago), and then remembers he doesn't have good taste. To the presses! (Or, you know, the websites.)

Ridge assures Nick that Maya's private business will stay private, within the company. But that Maya likely will lose her job. Ridge thanks Nick for coming by and says he learned something. Nick asks him not to discriminate and suggests that he joins the 21st Century. (Oh Nick, if you'd seen Ridge just a couple of years ago with his surgically implanted neck scarves from the 1970s, you'd know what an uphill battle this is!) This version of Ridge seems far more enlightened, though, so we shall see. I think he actually might be an ally of some sort in this story moving forward. Stranger things have happened. Haven't they?

Brooke and Eric check the interwebs to find the tacky variations on the story ("Room for Two in this Closet," "His & His Towels"). Ugh, when is Bill's building going to go up in flames with him and his Stallion self inside it? Oh well, I guess he is a lot of fun to hate. (I never realized Spencer Publications dealt in bottom-of-the-barrel tabloid trash, but I guess they're supposed to be kind of Murdoch-ian, yes?)

Anyway, Rick talks about his childhood and having to live up to his namesake (Eric) and explains why he lied about who he was when they met, because he wanted her to like her for who he is and not who he's supposed to be. I mean... it's a stretch as far as comparisons go. But it's a nice effort on his part. Rick is generally piss-poor at empathy, so baby steps! Progress! "When everyone else hates me," says Rick, "you find a way to love me more." Well. That is certainly true.

He asks if there's any more to the story, if she needs to tell him anything else. She says no, and he tells her he's glad she told him. 

Rick: That's what the woman I know would do. So what does it change? I don't care who you were named after, or who I was. I just know that I love you and I want to spend my life with you, so please don't walk away from me.

Maya throws herself into his arms, crying. 


COLOR ME SHOCKED. This is a love story! A real, actual challenging-odds-to-overcome, life-altering, worldview-changing LOVE STORY. On a soap! (I know. But we all know how cynical the soaps have gotten about love lately.)


That was really lovely. And y'all. B&B surprised me.

Shit, Rick Forrester surprised me!

Next step: this love story also shows personal growth and becomes a redemption story? Maybe? Hello? Anyone?

Just a thought.

I know, I know. Pigs can also fly and I can also have a lot of ponies, right?


OMG. I...that is exactly what I was hoping for and was SURE I wasn't going to see. I've been avoiding B&B because I didn't want to see Rick being awful and B&B tricked me with awesomeness.

Well, I'll see you tomorrow B&B

I am so happy that I stuck it out with B&B long enough to get to yesterday's episode. The Maya/Rick scenes were lovely in both terms of writing and acting. I felt really absorbed and it's been too long since I have been that invested in scenes on a soap opera. Well done B&B.

I admit that I have always liked Dollar Bill and found his reaction to this to be completely in character. He's a pig and unapologetic about it. But really the other characters reactions were generally boring.

I liked Nick's most-random appearance if only for his reminder to Ridge that firing Maya based on discrimination would be AGAINST THE LAW. Thank you for that!

Haha I'm crying a lot. I've been avoiding this entire show like the plague the last couple months because I was completely and entirely sure everything would be terrible. Is it really awful that i started crying a little and that this has, just a tiny bit, restored my faith in humanity? That a trans woman gets to be something other than the butt of a joke? That she gets to have her very own love story? That she gets to be treated like a human being, rather than a freak show? This is why visibility is so important.

Yay! I'm so glad you guys liked it too. I don't talk to a ton of B&B viewers, but social media makes it seem like everyone just hates Rick and Maya so much that they couldn't even appreciate this. But this is so good! And as I'm hoping, maybe it could lead to them treating other people a little better. (Honestly, Rick hasn't slowed his roll at all, but Maya's been quite decent to the other characters for a while now. I hope Rick follows suit. Well, no. I hope he unleashes hellfire on Bill Spencer and I will clap like a seal.)

I was so worried Maya would become a walking PSA and wouldn't get to keep her soapy love story. This is cool.

I'm sad that social media hates them so much but I'm happy that the show is writing them so well. B&B is the only soap that is consistently making me happy with this story and also the fact that it people seem to still care about the design and technical elements as opposed to the other soaps, especially Days which is just so sad looking right now.

I am usually your biggest champion and agree with you totally mostly on GH. But this post I couldn't disagree more with you, very respectfully because your inability to fathom or tolerate GH matches mine. But .... This Trans thing as a love story?? I hope your article was one big exercise in hilarious sarcasm!! Seriously.....you said it...Rick is an Alpha Male asshole. I am a straight male nothing like Rick I am very easy going and kind. Seriously.......myself...if my girlfriend told me she was a dude...which Myron still is despite nips and tucks...I would be like get out of my bed you liar. And Rick is a volatile off kilter rich kid who likes gunplay. If this show was written with ANY kind of reality instead of pillow political correctness... Rick would have gone all Postal and Crying Game. There's no love story here of any kind. Only a seriously botched misguided plan. And no trans guy is as hot as Maya.

No, there was not a shred of sarcasm in my post. This is a love story, and I'm thrilled to see it.

And Maya isn't a trans guy, she's a trans woman.

I also don't know what "pillow" political correctness is, but frankly this story has been much the polar opposite of PC.

A transgendered woman is not a "dude." And sadly, the above comment is just an indicator that the B&B writers are correct to present some people in the B&B universe as intolerant, and uninformed regarding the complexity of transgendered life.

Glad as I am to see this story take a turn that I totally did not expect, I suppose it's true that having Rick accept Maya quite so readily--given who Rick is and what his established personality has been--doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. But on the other hand: this is B&B--what does? This is a show on which Katie goes back to Dollar Bill; this is a show on which Stephanie went back to Eric--repeatedly; heck, this is a show that coasted along for 20 years on an interminable triangle based on the idea that two beautiful women with much to offer (at least initially) would fight over a simpering, self-absorbed nincompoop with surgically implanted neck-scarves, and then coasted along for another 5 years or so on another interminable triangle based on the idea that two beautiful women with much to offer (at least initially) would fight over a waffling, self-absorbed nincompoop with a surgically removed brain. In that context, I guess Rick's rather surprising acceptance seems far less of a surprise (and at least it's a good surprise, for a change).

I see what you're saying, Michael, but at their core soaps are (supposed to be!) about the power of love, right? People are supposed to be changed, transformed, redeemed, saved, etc., by love itself. At the soaps' most ideal, anyway.

So is this out of character for Rick? Yes. But that's the point -- love driving someone to become totally unlike how they were before. All the great supercouples (back when that was a thing) were rooted in that.

I'm still skeptical that the transformation will expand beyond just his relationship with Maya, but wouldn't it be amazing if this changed everything about how Rick relates the world?

If people are only allowed to behave in ways that are perfectly in character, then nothing and nobody ever changes and we're left with that tedious status quo we're always complaining about regarding the soaps!

So yes, a good surprise!

I think the key to making soaps work (see: Douglas Marland, Claire Labine, other soap-writing greats) is to write characters with personalities sufficiently shaded and complex to admit, plausibly, varying reactions to any given situation. Then you don't have to end up with that tiresome status quo that you're talking about, Louise, because "perfectly in character" can cover some wider territory when characters are written with multiple dimensions.

That's never been B&B's strong point, however, so the show is left with a second-best solution: pretty much anything goes, and Katie ends up back with Bill . . . just because. In that context, though perhaps Rick's reaction would stretch credibility in the real world, in B&B-land, it seems less problematic somehow, because people in B&B-land are going around doing things like that all the time anyway. I take J's point that Rick's real-life counterpart would probably have a lot more trouble with this revelation. (There are undoubtedly heterosexual men who could take it pretty much in stride, but one wouldn't expect real-life Rick Forrester to be one of them.) And even on another soap besides B&B, it might bother me. Here, it really doesn't, because it's not like all the other characters are going around having totally realistic, in-character reactions to the things that happen to them and only Rick is being written differently. I'd call it more plot driven than PC (Rick having this reaction is much more interesting, and presents many more story possibilities, than his having the reaction one might otherwise expect, which would terminate the story pretty much immediately--and be incredibly harsh and painful to watch, in addition, and I'm relieved to be spared that), but it's totally in keeping with how this show handles the construct of "character."

At the same time, that's also why I can't fully buy your "love driving someone to become totally unlike how they were before" explanation, because I don't see that happening much to the other characters on this show, either, especially the male ones. If it did, Bill wouldn't be plotting the expose, Ridge would have evolved somewhat more than what the change in actor has dictated, and Liam would have developed a modicum of intelligence and emotional maturity by now. It's a very soapy phenomenon, indeed, this transformative-power-of-love idea--but not a very B&B-land one, in general (unless you want to count the "love makes B&B women behave like idiots over men" throughline, which has been quite consistent--but let's not, please).

(By the way, can someone remind me how Rick reacted to Caroline's Two [Disappearing] Mothers? If he had even a somewhat sensitive reaction to that, during their 30 seconds of screen time, then there's at least some groundwork for his understanding reaction to Maya.)

Michael, you'll get no argument from me that what I was describing (vis a vis "transformative power of love") is not something we see on this (or, sadly any other) soap these days. I'm just arguing that we should. And we used to. And it's the hope of that that drives soap-watching -- or at least it was, traditionally.

So it would be cool if that was what was really happening here, and if it informed the story moving forward. I'm pretty pessimistic about that, though. But I sure enjoyed it for 2 days!

As for Caroline's family, she was more Team Thomas than Team Rick at the time, but he certainly didn't bat an eye about it. It was bizarre that it was presented as such a big deal in the first place, because again: L.A. Fashion. Oh no, the gayz!!! (In reality, Rick would be surrounded by LGBT people all damn day long and would be run out of the industry on a rail if he copped an attitude about it, despite his "birthright.")

At any rate, Rick does have (till the papers are signed) same-sex parents-in-law, so he obviously has no problem on that front. But of course gay and trans are two different things. While not every man could accept this information about a partner, in his world it would (at the very least) not be a novelty/curiosity. If that makes sense.

I have not watched yet, but this post makes me so, so happy. I am thrilled that this is a love story, and the dialogue was wonderful. Thank you so much for sticking around :)

I'm so glad I did, Ziyal!

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