Luke (Van Hansis), Noah (Jake Silbermann)
211 days, 14 hours, 45 minutes, and 45 seconds.
But in an episode airing today, the CBS soap opera caught viewers off guard with surprisingly steamy kisses between the two. News of the kisses had not been previously leaked.
“As The World Turns remains committed to telling the story of Luke and Noah,” said the producers of the show in a statement to AfterElton.com. “We continue to tell this and all our stories based on what we think is best creatively. This kiss is the natural evolution of the relationship between Luke and Noah.”
Daytime television’s only gay couple, often referred to as “Nuke” by fans, last kissed on September 26, 2007. Since then, there has been plenty of kissing between the show’s heterosexual couples, but a series of interruptions and pan-aways whenever it seemed like the gay teens might kiss.
In the most well-publicized example, during last year’s Christmas episode, the characters leaned in to kiss, but at the last moment, the camera passed upward to mistletoe hanging above the doorway—an “artistic decision,” according to Brian T. Cahill, Sr. V.P., Managing Director for TeleVest Daytime Programs.
But the seeming double standard set off a firestorm of controversy, with fans targeting the show’s producers with letters and venting their frustration in internet forums. One viewer even started a “Kiss Campaign" in December, encouraging fans to send bags of Hershey’s Kisses to CBS and Procter & Gamble Productions, which produces the show, encouraging them to show “Nuke” kissing again.
AfterElton.com started a “Nuke Liplock Clock,” counting the days and minutes since they last kissed.
After the February Valentine’s Day episode, which showed each of the show’s main couples sharing a romantic kiss except Luke and Noah, another group of fans launched a media blitz that led to worldwide publicity over fans’ demands that the characters be allowed to kiss. The campaign led to major coverage on CNN, BBC, FOX, and in newspapers nationwide.
Those involved with the show have always denied that the lack of same-sex kissing on the show is the result of any pressure from sponsors, anti-gay protest groups, or the network, calling it solely an artistic decision.
“I understand why all this makes people scream,” Barbara Bloom, CBS Senior Vice President for Daytime, told TV Guide’s Michael Logan earlier this month. “The only thing you’re going to get out of me is that the pacing is slower with Luke and Noah than it is with other romances on As the World Turns. But that’s good storytelling. We’re in the business of getting people to watch more.”
According to sources, the show’s upcoming “Nuke” storyline will have Luke moving in with Noah and Ameera, an Iraqi character that Noah has a “greencard marriage” with. Ameera surrenders the bedroom she had shared with Noah to Luke. When Ameera’s presence stilll gets in the way of his relationship with Noah, Luke decides to leave, causing Noah to tell Ameera he wants to end the marriage.