The Lesbian Kiss That Made Soap Opera History: ‘Teriah’

on

Mark this date: On May 31, 2019, the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless made history when Tessa and Mariah, the show’s resident lesbian couple, finally shared a gloriously passionate kiss that led to a night of lovemaking.

It began with some playful bantering. Mariah and Tessa were gently mocking a record executive’s attempts at making Tessa over into a bubble gum pop star. Mariah jokingly urged Tessa to try on a ridiculously gaudy blouse, and Tessa complied. For a moment, Mariah stopped what she was doing to watch. She took in her lover’s beauty and gasped “Just what I thought, that you CAN get more stunning.”

They poured champagne and made a toast, in their own inimitable style:  “To more Tessa, with a dash of Mariah.”

It was a sweet moment, but there was also more urgency in the air. An exquisite tension hung between them. Mariah had never looked happier and Tessa was right there with her in the moment. They praised each other for being supportive of one another. The camera subtly moved in for a close-up. Tessa gently stroked Mariah’s hair, and Mariah’s eyes didn’t leave Tessa’s face for a second. Suddenly, Tessa jumped up off the couch, dying to take off the hideous blouse. Mariah seductively offered to remove it for her. They moved in for a kiss, but this time, it wasn’t the quick peck-on-the lip kissing that they’ve been sharing for months. This was a slow, deeply lustful kiss that “Teriah” fans have been waiting for. It’s the kiss that never came for Olivia and Natalia or countless other TV lesbian couples. It’s the kiss that can never, ever be put back into the TV closet again.

This was a slow, deeply lustful kiss that “Teriah” fans have been waiting for. It’s the kiss that never came for Olivia and Natalia or countless other TV lesbian couples. It’s the kiss that can never, ever be put back into the TV closet again.

Tessa and Mariah’s long courtship began in 2017 with a first kiss – one that took the women, who were both in heterosexual relationships at the time, by surprise. It left them reeling and wondering if it had been a momentary indiscretion or if it was the start of a whole new chapter in their lives.

Slowly and painstakingly, the writers explored this new territory with tenderness and class. I watched as Mariah, wonderfully played by Camryn Grimes, struggled with her feelings, found the courage and broke up with her boyfriend Devon, and really began examining her whole sexual identity. I was less impressed with Tessa (Cait Fairbanks), who tried desperately to ignore the growing sexual tension between them and held on more tightly to her fizzling relationship Mariah’s brother, Noah.

 Watch the epic kiss!

As the months wore on, though, it became painfully obvious that the show was dropping the ball on this couple. There were ludicrous plots about plagiarism and blackmail that seemed solely designed to turn Tessa into an evil and conniving monster. Even worse, days and weeks would go by with neither actress making an appearance on the show. In fact, Tessa and Mariah were becoming eerily similar to another popular soap opera lesbian couple that CBS let fall by the wayside.

Just ten years ago, Guiding Light introduced Olivia (Crystal Chappell) and Natalia (Jessica Leccia), a dynamic power couple dubbed “Otalia” by fans. They oozed sexual chemistry from every pore, but for some mysterious reason, they were never allowed any physical intimacy.

They too had started out as friends who suddenly shared a passionate kiss and struggled with their confusing feelings. Coincidentally or not, their relationship really bloomed in the final months of the long-running series, which was even more baffling. By the last episode, it seemed obvious that the women, who finally became a couple, weren’t even going to hold hands. Why couldn’t the show just go out on a high note with a historic kiss? Was the same thing happening again at CBS with Mariah and Tessa? Most importantly, had I spent months and months of investing my time in another TV lesbian couple only to be Otalia’d all over again?

It sure seemed that way to me, until the beginning of this year. Suddenly, their scenes were filled with move love and warmth than I had ever witnessed before. Though their intimacy remained frustratingly elusive in comparison with the humping hets of Genoa City, I sensed that their kisses and touching were becoming more tangible. The writers thankfully tied up those lurid plot lines and allowed Mariah and Tessa more screen time. After many false starts, Tessa’s musical career seemed to be taking off and Mariah has been right there to support her.

The Young and the Restless is still a soap opera where happiness remains an elusive concept. But for now, I take my hat off to CBS, not only for supporting this couple and letting them thrive but also for not capitulating to angry viewer demands that they drop the relationship and let poor Mariah and Tessa “find decent men.”

Of course, The Young and the Restless is still a soap opera where happiness remains an elusive concept. But for now, I take my hat off to CBS, not only for supporting this couple and letting them thrive but also for not capitulating to angry viewer demands that they drop the relationship and let poor Mariah and Tessa “find decent men.”

I’m sad to say, however, that the hatred for this couple has not abated. Fans have taken to social media to express their outright disgust for Tessa and Mariah, as if they haven’t been watching lesbian and gay couples all over the TV landscape for the last decade or two. It’s a chilling reminder that hate persists in 2019, even for fictional TV characters.