'Station 19' stars reflect on the legacy of one of TV's most beloved lesbian romances

Daniel Sablé and Stefania Spampinato never expected their characters, firefighters Maya Bishop and Dr. Carina DeLuca, to end up together on “Station 19.”

In Season 3 of Grey's Anatomy, ABC's second spinoff about the lives of the close-knit firefighters of the Seattle Fire Department, then-fire chief Maya finds herself at a crossroads in her personal life. A serial non-monogamist who fears commitment, she had just broken up with her co-worker Jack Gibson (Gray Damon) and was reluctant to jump into another relationship. One night, at a bar across the street from the fictional Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, Carina wants to know how the fire chief ended up transporting a severed nose to the hospital in a plastic bag, so she asks Maya for a drink. I offered to buy him a meal.

Sablé and Spampinato said they felt an indescribable electric shock during the first read-through and filming of a scene in which it is implied that the characters spend one final night together. He says he considers this scene to be one of his all-time favorites. Both actors are girlfriends of former showrunner Krista Vernoff, who turned what could have been just another routine romance for Maya into one of TV's most beloved lesbian relationships. praises the achievements of.

“The initial natural chemistry was undeniable, and it wasn't something you could dress up or fake, even with great actors,” Spampinato told NBC News in an exclusive joint interview with Sable. “That was a big element that we had naturally. And we both love our jobs, we love our characters, and we both feel like we wanted to portray a believable relationship.”

Firefighter Maya Bishop and Dr. Carina DeLuca's relationship began in season 3 of Station 19 and lasted until the series' final season, season 7.Raymond Liu / ABC

Looking back, Sable and Spapinato couldn't pinpoint a specific moment when fans noticed Maya and Karina's relationship (whom they affectionately refer to as “Marina”), but they said that during the fourth season, He said he noticed a noticeable change during filming. In 2020, engagement on social media accounts started to skyrocket.

“I think we've gotten into people's homes in a different way than before the pandemic because people are staying at home and can't go out and they're spending more time watching TV,” Spapinato said. . “Maybe that's also why people identified with these characters so much.”

The cast and crew finished production on Season 3 just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and returned to work later that summer under strict testing guidelines. To limit exposure to the virus, the screenwriters decided to pair up the actors for more one-on-one scenes and keep them in a bubble, which accelerated the development of Maya and Carina's relationship. Sablé and Spampinato said. That's why Spampinato, who spent three seasons as a recurring character on Grey's Anatomy, joined the Station 19 cast full-time in season four.

“I actually remember thinking, 'There's no way I can be a full-fledged regular on a firefighter show just because I'm a doctor.' That makes no sense. And then a few months later they said, 'Okay. , I'm officially going to be on 'Station 19,''' Spampinato recalled with a laugh. “It's because the relationship was going so well that they were like, 'Yeah, let's keep it going.'”

For five seasons, Sable and Spampinato played out the entire story of Maya and Carina's tumultuous relationship. They decided to get married in the fourth season and began discussing plans to start a family in the fifth season, trying unsuccessfully to conceive using in vitro fertilization. Fertilized on the 6th time. After briefly separating until Maya gets professional help to deal with potential mental health issues, Maya and Carina adopt a boy named Liam at the start of the seventh (and final) season. I decided to do it. (The groundbreaking 100th episode will air on Thursday.)

wedding scenery
Dr. Carina DeLuca and firefighter Maya Bishop got married on the Season 4 finale of “Station 19.”Ron Butzdorf/ABC

The story had special meaning for Sablé and Spampinato, who felt Maya and Carina were “definitely getting closer” to becoming mothers. Back in her native Italy, where same-sex couples are not allowed to undergo IVF, Spampinato said she has many gay friends who “find great joy and fulfillment” in the experience of adoption. .

“I think it's very important to tell this story because I've previously undergone IVF to donate my eggs,” she says, adding that, unlike Spampinato, she hopes to have children of her own one day. Mr. Sable said. “I think they did a great job of portraying the IVF process with Karina in the past and the emotional ups and downs that come with it.”

The attention that comes with portraying one of the few lesbian couples on network television where both characters are part of the main ensemble isn't without its challenges. For years, some fans confused Maya and Karina with the actors who play them.

“When someone has talent or is doing something that they like and admire, people tend to think that the artist is that person, but I think it's really important to make that distinction. ,” Spampinato said.

Sable — who spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time at a 2022 fan convention — said she and Spampinato would confide in or check in with each other from time to time, especially when rumors about their real-life relationship started getting out of control.

“When Stefania and I went to our first convention, I remember saying, 'Guys, we're not dating.' We care for each other, we support each other, and we act out scenes together. I love it, but we’re not together,” Saber said with a laugh. “The reason I love doing conventions with fans is because you get to meet the people that these characters have had such an impact on, but they also get to see you as a person and not just a character. Because you can.”

Maya is rushed to Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital for a medical emergency.
In Season 6 of Station 19, Maya Bishop is rushed to Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital, where her wife Dr. Carina DeLuca works, due to a medical emergency.Eric McCandless / ABC

Since ABC announced in December that the seventh season of “Station 19” would be its last, some fans have launched an intense campaign to save the show. An online petition gathered more than 85,000 signatures..

“The fans came and were like, 'We're not going anywhere,' which is amazing,” Saber admitted. To keep hope alive. ”

Sablé and Spampinato said they were “grateful” that the writers were given enough notice to avoid leaving a cliffhanger in the seventh and final season, but they and their co-workers were already in the middle of filming. He said the cancellation was a shock to him. The first episode of the season and the second episode is in the works.

“It felt like a bucket of ice was thrown in my face,” Spampinato said.

The writers had already outlined the season's 10 episodes, but had to pivot within days.

“We basically had eight episodes to wrap up these stories, and I think they've done a great job with what they've been given,” Saber said.

For Maya and Karina, that meant moving the timeline forward a bit to show their early experiences with motherhood rather than prolonging their struggle to start a family.

“If this season wasn't our final season, it would have played out differently. The writers told us it would have played out differently,” Sable said. “I know we were writing these stories, but in the end there was a world where there was a nice payoff. And I think this payoff is also nice.”

Spampinato added, “The writers are trying really hard to fit everything we want, everything the audience wants, everything they want into these 10 episodes.”

“They're trying to make everyone happy. I hope that comes across on screen and that people enjoy and appreciate it,” she said.

Saber, who was taking a break from filming the final episode of “In the Wilderness” to finish this interview, teased that the characters don't necessarily get “a happy ending, but a satisfying one.”

“The reality is that these characters live on, so we're not like, 'They got everything they wanted at the end of the season.' We’re kind of laying the foundation for that,” she said. “They are in a good position and their future is bright. We will leave the fans there and they can fill that void themselves.”

But are the actors themselves satisfied with how their characters ultimately end up? “I'm just sad that it's over, but I think thinking about it makes me happy,” Spampinato said, adding that Sable likes the fact that the ending is “not finite.”

Dr. Carina DeLuca and firefighter Maya Bishop adopt a baby boy, Liam, at the start of the seventh and final season. "Station 19."
Dr. Carina DeLuca and firefighter Maya Bishop adopt a baby boy, Liam, at the start of the seventh and final season of “Station 19.”James Clark/ABC

But the end of “Station 19” marks the end of one of the most important chapters in the actors' lives. For Saber, His younger sister Stephanie works for the Los Angeles Fire Department.Being able to express Less than 5% of career firefighters are women This became one of the greatest honors in her career.

“Representing a queer woman on television who has experienced ups and downs, found love, and endured a rough childhood with an abusive father has given us so many great storylines in seven years. “I'm sometimes in awe of what they've actually given me to portray,” Sable said. “Being a strong woman in a male-dominated industry, coming out to your parents, dealing with mental health issues, deciding whether or not you want to have kids…I've been so grateful for every storyline, and not to. I was so scared of 'Please spoil me,' because I know how important representation is to all of these things. ”

Before joining the “Grey's Anatomy” series, Spampinato said he felt relegated to playing one-dimensional characters who were only used as comedic relief. But on Station 19, she said, “What I liked most, apart from being Italian, was getting the chance to play a character who has a job, falls in love, has a family, and bickers.'' ” he said. She said playing an openly bisexual Italian woman was especially important to her, given that Italy's right-wing government plans to roll back the rights of LGBTQ people. she added.

Both actors said they will especially miss their easy on-screen relationship.

“A lot of times actors don't get along and they clash, especially in romantic relationships, where you're like, 'Oh my gosh, I have to get along with this person.' You have to pretend. You have to.’ I never felt that way about Stefania,” Sable said. “We care about each other. We support each other. I think we've been each other's champions.”

“Station 19” will end its run in May, but ABC recently renewed “Grey's Anatomy” for a 21st season, making it the longest-running primetime medical drama in history. Of all the characters on “Station 19,” Maya and Carina are the two most likely to appear on “Grey's,” given that the latter still works at a fictional hospital. It seems to me.

Asked if either of them would be willing to reprise their roles in the future, Sable and Spa Pampinato said they would be offered an offer by either Grey's showrunner Meg Marinis or Shonda Rhimes' production company, Shondaland. They both agreed they would jump at the chance to perform again. In every capacity.

“Of course we're open to that. I feel like if we said, 'No, that's not a possibility, we're never going to work together again,' we would get death threats.” I do,” Sable joked. “This is an industry that we don't have 100 percent control over. But listen, when ABC or Shondaland comes to us and says, 'We're a 'marina' where you guys live on boats. I want a spin-off of the series.'' marina' And we said, 'Yes! 'It was like, '

The final season of “Station 19” airs every Thursday at 10pm ET on ABC. Episodes can also be streamed on Hulu.

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https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-pop-culture/station-19-stars-reflect-legacy-one-tvs-beloved-lesbian-romances-rcna147420 'Station 19' stars reflect on the legacy of one of TV's most beloved lesbian romances

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