On Thursday, November 30, ABC’s daytime drama “All My Children” re-introduced Zarf, a colorful rock star with a secret. Zarf is transgendered and making the transition from man to woman.
In a town known for its stable of back-from-the dead, baby-stealing, adulterous characters, the introduction of the Zarf to Pine Valley marks the first time a transitioning trangendered person has been featured on a daytime soap opera. In the mid nineties, “The City,” another ABC soap opera, featured a transgendered model; however, this is uncharted territory.
This is not the first time “All My Children” has been at the forefront of the great gender and sexuality debate. The show introduced daytime’s first gay character in 1982. Dr. Lynn Carson was played by actress Donna Pescow. More recently, in April of 2003, “All My Children” made history featuring the first onscreen lesbian kiss. The openly gay fan-favorite, Bianca Montgomery (played by Eden Riegel) and girlfriend Lena (played by Olga Sosnovska) admitted their feelings for one another and shared a kiss.
Actor Jeffrey Carlson is reprising the role of Zarf. He originally appeared in one episode of the show this summer. The transgendered character will discover he has an unexplainable attraction to the character Bianca. The pairing of the two is sure to generate much discussion in weeks to come.
Transgendered characters are rare among all television genres. However, it is not all that suprising that a daytime serial would be in the forfront of changing the face of television. Throughout it’s 37 year history, “All My Children” has been on the cutting edge of social issues such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, racism and homosexuality. In 2003, the show’s creator, Agnes Nixon stated “The theme of ‘All My Children’ from the beginning is the belief that, as God’s children, we are all bound to each other by our common humanity despite our many personal differences; that it is our failure to understand and respect those differences that causes most of life’s pain and suffering.” The introduction of daytime’s first transitioning trandgendered character falls in line with this ongoing theme.
The transgendered storyline twist is sure to spark interest in the show that has recently been the victim of fledgling ratings. Overall daytime television has seen a decline in viewership.
It has not been stated whether or not Carlson will continue in the role after the character’s transformation is completed. It also has not been determined whether viewers will actually see the transformation from man to transgendered woman occur. In a business ruled by numbers, only time will tell. The actor insists that the character and storyline is not just a ploy for ratings or for shock value. He stated “It’s just another person whose story is being told in Pine Valley.” Whatever the motivation, the inclusion of a transgendered resident to the fictional Pine Valley is sure to put “All My Children” on the must see list for many viewers.
Actor Jeffrey Carlson has signed a contract with All My Children to continue in the role of Zarf/Zoe. Currently Zarf/Zoe is the number one suspect in the Satin Slayer Murders that are rocking Pine Valley. Stay tuned for further developments in the story.