Like many other girls of the past five decades, I started watching soap operas with my mom, aunt and grandma from a young age. Not that I had a choice — the daytime soaps were pretty much the only time of the afternoon I had to surrender the TV remote and shush up while the matriarchs watched their stories. In my household, this was always The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.
My own personal interest in the shows had wavered over the years, until I was old enough to have a permitting schedule or a DVR that would allow my daily watching. But my mom would keep me up to date with what was happening, and there never seemed to be too much that changed and I could get right back into it with my beloved characters and learn who had died, been recast or moved to another show. The last four years, I’ve been lucky enough to have a job where I work from home, and so there was no way I was going to miss my B&B. (Y&R doesn’t do it for me anymore, much to my mom’s disappointment. She stays loyal.)
So I was psyched to learn of the lesbian storyline on Bold and the Beautiful, especially because I could go on and on about this show, but no one (besides Mom) seems to care. Maybe now some other people can talk about it with me, though most of my gripes lately have more to do with the love triangle that is Liam/Hope/Steffy. (I’m Team Steffy, BTW!)
Before we jump into what we’ve seen from the lesbian storyline so far (which, admittedly, isn’t a ton), here’s a primer for you folks who haven’t been watching the show as long as I have. (Which is totally fine and shouldn’t be too hard to grasp.)
This is Karen Spencer (played by out lesbian Joanna Johnson).
Karen has been on-and-off B&B since 1987. She also played Karen’s twin sister Caroline, who died in 2001. (She’s on the left.)
Karen’s brother is Bill Spencer, a fashion magazine publisher who is nicknamed “Dollar Bill” because money is his main priority, much to the chagrin of his wife, Katie.
In the last month, Karen has reappeared with daughter, Caroline (named after her deceased aunt). They’d been living in New York City until Caroline became a fashion designer and moved to Los Angeles to work with Forrester Creations. The Forresters and the Spencers are the major two families at the focus of the show. Their constant personal and professional entanglements are what keep things interesting.
While working at Forrester, Caroline has caught the attention of stepbrothers Thomas Forrester and Rick Forrester. She’s currently dating Thomas, though, which is where our lesbian storyline begins.
Now that her daughter is living in and loving L.A., Karen decides to rent a house on the beach with her partner, Danielle (Crystal Chappell). But no one knows that Danielle is Karen’s boo and that Caroline has two mommies. Karen keeps Danielle holed up in the house with a denim-on-denim outfit and baking fruit pies. (Seriously, everyone else on this show has an amazing wardrobe and a personal chef. Not the lesbian!)
Considering this is 2012, they live in Los Angeles and their families work in the fashion industry, I am kind of annoyed this is the first gay storyline the show has come up with. Obviously the Forresters and Spencers are way out of touch if this is the first lesbian couple they’ve ever met.
Anyhow, Thomas wants to meet Caroline’s family. He’s met Karen, so he keeps saying he wants to meet her dad. Caroline nervously puts him off but calls her mom. She’s illusive about what she’s referring to at this point, but we hear her saying she wants to be honest with Thomas, that she really likes him. Karen is adamant, though. He cannot come over and he cannot know the truth. At this point I have to remind myself it’s a soap opera and so everything has to be scandalous and overdramatic — even (especially?) lesbians.
Caroline brings him home anyway. She’s all about being up front with her new beau, but when they show up to the beach house, Karen intervenes and immediately introduces Danielle as her friend. Caroline gives her mom a disapproving look and Danielle stands by with a stoic expression on her face. Sadly she must be used to this b.s. A guy friend is also there and Thomas, who knows him from work, says he didn’t know the guy was Caroline’s father, which is weird because why would any guy hanging out at their house automatically be Caroline’s sperm donor? Thomas is just pushy as hell about this whole “dad” thing, which makes everybody tense.
Even more maddening is the fact that Danielle barely says anything. She stands idly by when Karen tells Caroline it’s not up for debate — no one will know about the lesbianism! Eventually Caroline takes her aside.
Caroline: It doesn’t have to be this way!
Danielle: Caroline, I understand how you feel but you’re not going to change her mind tonight.
It’s an awkward dinner, as Thomas’ mention of daddy keep getting ignored. Eventually he wants to know why everyone is being so weird around him.
While eating Danielle’s pie (“an old family recipe”), it comes out that they’ve “known each other a long time.” Just then Bill stops by unexpectedly. “You must be the roomie,” he says to Danielle. He spreads his smarm all over their living room, making comments about all the photos of Danielle and Karen and how close they are. He notes, “Looks like you two girls have done quite a bit of traveling together.” Karen says she doesn’t like to travel alone.
Bill: You know, two ladies sharing a house on a beach. You know what people might think, right?
Karen: Great to see you, Bill. Thanks for stopping by.
As Bill leaves, Karen turns to Caroline. “That is why we’re not going to say anything.” Apparently Dollar Bill is a bigot.
Caroline confronts her mom again, who says she’s stressed out by being judged in her own home. Caroline makes an executive decision and outs her moms.
Caroline: Mom, I know how private you are, but please — for me.
Karen: Thomas, um, Caroline’s father isn’t in the picture. But she does have two parents. Dani and I — we’re her parents. We’re a couple and, um, we’ve been together for a long time.
Caroline: These are my moms.
Caroline is in tears and says it’s not a big deal as she waits for Thomas’ response. (Cue the soap opera long pause.) At first you think he might be disgusted. Maybe we’re supposed to assume he will be. But he says he’s shocked that they’d think he would ever care. In fact, he feels so dumb that
he had to say all that daddy dialogue he kept mentioning Caroline’s dad when, clearly, she has two moms.
Thomas: I don’t know what to say. I feel bad. I’m sorry you guys felt like you couldn’t be yourselves around me. I really hope I didn’t offend you by asking too much about Caroline’s father. I should not have assumed he was even in the picture in the first place. … Love is the one thing we all want. We all know it when we feel it and we can’t help who we love. But there are some people out there who think love is wrong. I’m not one of those people. I think it’s great that you found Danielle and I think we should all be so lucky.
Karen says it means a lot to her, but Bill cannot know about it. (“Bill Spencer is not someone you share your secrets with — especially this one.”) Caroline explains how her grandfather wouldn’t even acknowledge Danielle as Karen’s partner; that it wasn’t until he died that they felt free to be themselves in New York. Specifically, “They got a taste of freedom.” Yes, that’s 40-something women she’s talking about in the 21st century, living in New York City. This storyline seems a little stuck in the past for me, but I’ll stick it out.
Later Bill goes home to Katie and they start discussing Karen bringing “her best friend, Danielle” with her to L.A. Katie thinks it’s nice they have such a great friendship.
Bill: I just find it a little bit odd my sister needs a roommate.
Katie: I think it’s nice she brought her best friend out here.
These two are oblivious. I thought the days of people pretending to be “roommates” were long gone, but I guess they are still alive and well in Soapland.
The next day, Bill tells his lawyer he’d like to set up with Karen.
Bill: I got it — you’re going to take out my sister. She lives in L.A. now. She’s gotta be sick and tired of hanging out with just her roommate. I think she’s in the market for a new man.
Yeah, I don’t think she’s in the market for an old one, either. The lawyer says he doesn’t think he’s Karen’s type. Ding ding ding!
OK, so my prediction: Bill is going to find out about Karen and try to use it against her somehow. But who will care that she’s a lesbian? I can’t imagine anyone that’s already on the show will. Seriously, Bill is the only person I could even imagine would be homophobic because he hates pretty much everyone but himself, his wife, his son and Steffy (his ex-lover who is he trying to get his son to be with.) Here’s hoping Danielle will get to talk some more and maybe she has some friends or family that allow her to be herself when she’s not under Karen’s thumb.