By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
For the last month or so, The Young and the Restless has been carrying promotional spots celebrating the soap’s 25th anniversary as number one in the ratings. It is quite an achievement. How did Y&R do it? By being consistently different from other soaps, particularly in its very idiosyncratic story structure.
The pace of the storylines on Y&R is much slower than on any other soaps. It takes forever for things to happen, and especially for secrets to be revealed. For example, it’s been many months since Sharon lied to Nick, telling him that Summer is not the biological daughter, Jack is. Too, Chelsea lied to Dylan for her entire pregnancy plus a few months more that the baby was his. Connor was really fathered by Adam. And talk about a long time — the oft-interrupted romance between former spouses Nick and Sharon is well into its second decade.
The idiosyncratic structure of Y&R probably makes this soap very difficult to write. Many of the characters have been around for decades, and their personalities are hard to change to meet story specifications. For example, how could Victor ever not be a suspicious bastard, never believing what people tell him and causing trouble for others.
Another problem for the writing team is that a lot of characters seem to have a certain fate. For example, neither Adam nor Jack will ever be winners. Right now Adam seems to be headed to certain imprisonment should the fact that he ran over Delia be exposed. And Jack is a perpetual loser in love. His latest love, Phyllis, is in a seemingly irreversible coma.
Also challenging the writers is the number of backstage events that must be accommodated for the show to run its course. For example, last week TMZ revealed that Michael Muhney was accused of sexual harassment and fired. Thus, Adam must be written off the show, at least for a while until the role is recast.
Further complicating things is the number of departures from the show this year. Billy Miller (Billy) is leaving the show after disagreement over his future contracts, and the role has been recast with David Tom, who used to play the role. Of course, last year Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. Chancellor) died and Michelle Stafford voluntarily left the show, leaving their characters to be written out.
Yet, Y&R continues to succeed, overcoming all roadblocks and remaining number one. Here’s to another twenty years on top!