The Young and the Restless: Time and Patience Needed

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

I’m on school vacation and have plenty of time on my hands.  So I’ve been watching a lot of The Young and the Restless.  It’s pretty good soap, if time and patience are your strengths as a soap viewer.

Y&R, as is its custom, is much slower than other soaps.  A storyline — take Jack and Phyllis’ romance, for example — can take twenty years to resolve.  Right now, it’s about to be exposed whether Phyllis’ daughter Summer is Jack’s or Nick’s biologically. A single new romance like as Nick and Avery’s can take an entire year to develop.  They’re finally formally engaged as of this week!  Any one storyline can go through dozens of ups and downs.

Tracey E. Bregman and Christian LeBlanc

The current best example is Lauren and Michael’s long marriage and the rough seas it has been going through since Lauren had a hot affair with Carmine.   It took forever for Michael to find out about the affair and now he seems to be moving in and out of his and Lauren’s home with regularity.  Actually this storyline is a good showcase for daytime’s best current couple, Tracey E.  Bregman and Chrtistian LeBlanc, durable and always engaging actors both. We watched both performers grow up on soaps and we’re still tuned in.  Will Lauren and Michael stay together? I bet this storyline has years to go, and that Bregman and LeBlanc will continue to carry it forward.

Others that have gone on seemingly forever aren’t so palatable.  I’m tired of Kevin and Chloe debating Kevin’s criminal tendencies.  Chelsea’s sole reason for being seems to be getting pregnant. As you know, she’s currently carrying ex-husband Adam’s baby and passing it off as Dylan’s.

As you also know, the star du jour of the show is General Hospital émigré Steve Burton who plays Dylan, or as I call him Dumb Dylan.  He seems like a pretty intelligent guy, yet he persists in believing Chelsea’s big lie.  It doesn’t make much sense since he’s otherwise insightful and perceptive. Writer alert: this isn’t Burton’s fault.

Despite its perpetual status as the top rated show, Y&R is certainly facing big challenges right now.  On top of Jeanne Cooper’s recent death, Michelle Stafford is about to leave the show.  Can any one soap afford to lose two of its longtime superstars in such a short period of time? Ratings will tell.

So how goes your early summer, Thinking Fans? Do you have the patience to watch Y&R?     

Daytime Emmy Chump Change

On June 16th, this year’s Daytime Emmys will be broadcast on HLN.   Released this week were the names of the hosts — Sam Champion, Good Morning America’s co-host, and HLN hosts A. J. Hammer and Robin Meade. But … if an awards show’s prestige is measured in part by the star power of its celebrity hosts, couldn’t we have bigger names than these? We know there are only four daytime soaps left (and two on-line) but certainly the year’s big awards ceremony deserves be headlined by hosts with more juice. What do you think? 

Comments

  1. William says:

    Marlena, this was an exceptional report card on “Young and the Restless.” Mostly on your part for finding the 10 percent of the show which is good and magnifying that ten thousand times to make up for the 90 percent of the show which is complete garbage. I agree that Christian Jules LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman are turning in Emmy caliber work.

    But that small percentage isn’t enough to make up for all of the horrificness we see daily: Chloe and Chelsea acting like teenagers anytime Dullan is in the room; Adam being shoved down our throats ad nauseum while Sharon changes the way she will stalk him on a daily basis. Even Melody Thomas Scott retweeted this week that the show is overrun with newbies that can’t act and soap stars (Steve Burton) that are no longer playing at the top of their game. I have been watching this show since 1981 and somedays find myself enjoying the 11 a.m. local news so much more than “Young and the Restless.”

  2. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    The Lauren- Michael storyline is the only on that’s holding my attention these days. I stop what I’m doing to watch their scenes. Amazing performances. So raw and genuine. And the storyline is so organic. Michael was torn between doing his job and believing his son. Wanted to make sure Fen didn’t turn out like he did, so he arrested him, which then caused the riff in his marriage and sent Lauren into Carmine’s arms. So true to the characters. Exceptionally good stuff.

    Also enjoying the Alex Chavez character. He seems to be speaking for the audience these days, offering clever observations about Genoa City goings on.

    Rest of the show is rather ho-hum. As much as I like Kevin, this debt storyline is killing his character. As much as I like the Avery character, they’re not giving her anything decent to play. As compelling as Adam can be, his obsession with Sharon is pulling the character into an abyss.

    Have never liked the Lily character and her current storyline is like a black hole, sucking all those in Lily’s orbit into it. Even Jack, Phyllis and Victor are all boring to me. And you mention Nikki. I’d forgotten about her. The show seems to have too.

    Steve Burton is capable of doing good acting. But they’re not giving him much to work with and he’s not doing much with what they’re giving him.

    Hope they do something good with Katherine’s death. That could be a storyline that reinvigorates the show.

  3. tess says:

    THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS needs some juice, oomph, elan. Josh Griffith is a much better writer than his predecessor, Maria Arena Bell, but Maria put on a more sprightly show. Griffith is not terribly imaginative. At least, he hasn’t shown it here. Lauren, a married woman, cheated on her husband, Michael. It seems that Lily, a married woman is moving in the direction of an extramarital affair. One affair right after another suggests that the writers aren’t donning their thinking caps.

    It appears as though it will be revealed that Summer is Jack’s child. So for almost two decades Nick knew there was a possibility that Summer wasn’t his daughter, but he kept that tidbit to himself. Across town, Chelsea told Dylan that she is pregnant with his kid. Those are two similar stories.

    Y&R needs some fresh ideas.

    I still find the show easy to get into. A viewer can turn on Y&R and effortlessly become acquainted with the story and characters. Which is a smart way to write a soap opera. Give the regular viewers some new information, but construct the show in a way that would bring new viewers up to speed. BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL is also easy to get into, The two remaining soaps are written for those who tune in everyday. A new viewer is totally lost. So their ratings will always be stagnant.

    Josh Griffith needs a co-head writer rooted in soaps and someone other than Jill Farren Phelps should be producing the show. Since she has come aboard, she has replaced Kyle, Abby and Summer, Phyllis is leaving. Steve Burton is getting more airtime than some of the veterans. Victor is getting soft in his old age. I like the idea of Victor trying to work it out with Adam. But Victor seems to have lost his spunk and that vindictive streak that I found extraordinarily entertaining.

    Get a new producer and a decent co head writer who celebrates and understands traditional soap opera and the show will be good to go.

  4. Chris says:

    Personally I feel Y&R lost it’s mojo under Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith. I’ve been watching the show since 1986 and have never been less interested than I am now. That’s big for me because I really disliked Maria Bell’s tenure and campaigned heavily online for the last 2 years of her run to be replaced. You know the old saying, be careful what you wish for? I wished and got no better.

    I’m glad Y&R returned to a sensible character driven soap again. However, the show is now filled with uninspired tales with newbies driving story while our vets languish in the back burner. But more than that, the writing is positively boring and dull. Josh Griffith could not have less energy as a head writer if he tried. Very little about his stories feel like it’s going anywhere. Take the ambien laced storyline of Dylan/Avery/Nick. With a 40 year history to pull from why is Josh telling a story of a love affair that none of us ever saw? I like Steve Burton ok as an actor but I’m so over the heavy handed way they are trying to sell his good guy character to us. It’s nauseating some days to watch. I don’t see any rooting value for Dylan as a character because he’s not tied to anyone significant and he’s…well…dumb. As you pointed out. Then tying him to Avery, a character most of the audience sees as dispensable is doing nothing in gaining that couple fans. They are featured way too much and lack any genuine excitement or rooting value. The one thing this story needs is Phyllis and for some reason unknown to the audience Josh is dead set against playing the Nick/Phyllis angle again. Why? That’s where the drama is. That’s where the audiences passion is. The absence of Phyllis in this triangle has been a huge mistake. Tru Phyllis WOULD have a vocal and rather toxic involvement in Nick and Avery’s coupling. That’s who she is! That’s who Phyllis has ALWAYS been. I detest when new head writers come in and arrogantly try to act like the audience doesn’t know these characters better and changes behavior without motivation. Frankly Phyllis is the one ingredient desperately needed to make this dull some trio pop.

    One of the things that made Bill Bell a great writer was he knew that to create drama you had to have characters that the audience wanted to see (key point Jill and Josh!!) who shared opposing points of view in any given storyline. Those strong opposing points of view are what create the tension and the melodrama. It’s what makes fallouts spectacular. Josh’s stories lack a strong opposing point of view. For the most part everyone seems very reasonable in GC these days. There is no tune in tomorrow factor. As awful as I found Maria Bell’s writing her show at least had excitement. Even if it was a train wreck kind of excitement.

    Then there is Jill Phelps. Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. She seems adamant to rid the show of any trace of the Bill Bell signature. If she’s not burning down a set, she’s building a new one or redesigning an existing one (The Chacellor living rooms insipid makeover, the soon to be Crimson Lights makeover). Visually I don’t recognize Y&R anymore. Then there are her apparent FOJ’s. She’s pushing newbies down our throat like a drug dealer pushes crack on an addict . Meanwhile beloved characters like Nikki, Jill, Gloria are languishing on the back burner to near extinction so we can get scenes with newbie Tyler banging day players to bad music that no one except them cares about. In that mess is the ever revolving door of recasts and new comers that I think is so detrimental to a show. It reeks of chaos behind the scenes. But her biggest offense to me has been the replacement of the old Y&R sound. To me Y&R now looks and sounds like an ABC soap. I loved Y&R because it was different. It wasn’t trying to be any other soap. It had a quality to it that was like no other soap on the dial. It was a Bell show signature. To be unique, glamorous, and proud. All she has done is formulated the show to look like all the other soaps that have come and gone. Y&R has lost it’s originality under her. If they had that much money in their budget to replace music they should have given that to the composers who they erroneously let go of. They had been there since the 80′s and could have updated while keeping true to the style. IMO, the new music plays to the dreariness of the show. It’s mostly blah and the non stop use of montages is a cheap way to push story forward. Overdone montages to me say, the writing is not good enough to sell story so we are resorting to the old bag of tricks. Sadly, in Y&R’s case the writing isn’t good enough. It lacks tension and melodrama galore.

    Y&R desperately needs a co-HW who apprenticed under Bill Bell. Kay Alden, Jack Smith or Sally Sussman come to mind. Then get rid of that throw the baby out with the bath water EP Jill Phelpes. Hire someone who understands the best way to update a show is to restore the classic and use the new to compliment it. Jill Phelps producing is equivalent to those house flippers who come in and gut old homes to their bones ridding it of any charm it still had to put the measly stink on it. I completely get now why fans loathe her. She should be retired away like some of the bad head writers of our time. Bring in an EP who sees potential in the existing and works with it to rebuild it’s future. That’s the kind of vision soaps need to go forward. Not this crazy woman with a sledgehammer and gasoline who brings in characters and cuts them to the front of the line instead of making them wait their turn to make an impact and impression. She has no clue about using history and how to change in organic ways. I’m so not impressed with her.

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