The Young and the Restless: Still the One

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! 

Comments

  1. Mama says:

    “Young and the Restless” does not deserve to have been No. 1 for 25 years.

    Perhaps 1988 to 2003 (15 years) but that’s it. The show has been far inferior over the past ten years to “General Hospital” and even cancelled soaps “As the World Turns” and “One Life to Live.”

    People watch this show out of habit not out of good taste.

  2. Chris says:

    Y&R may be the No. 1 rated daytime soap, but it has never been No. 1 in the younger demos, where GH has always held the top spot in year after year! ;-)

  3. Michael Bird says:

    In the last weeks of SOAPNet, I thrilled to “One Life to Live” circa 2009. Jessica was turning into Tess, Dorian and David were at it again, Todd (Victor) was juggling Blair and Tea, Rex and Gigi were going well until her stripper sister Stacy showed up. And while that may have been a down time for OLTL, it was bittersweet watching those repeated episodes in the early morning hours, knowing that now that OLTL is gone for good, I’d never see those characters on a television screen again.

    Over the years, especially since “As the World Turns” is gone, I really have tried to get into “The Young and the Restless”. Maybe it’s because of that glacier-slow pace, I don’t know. I always liked the P&G/New York shows better, for some reason. And none of those exist anymore.

    Congratulations to Y&R on this milestone achievement — it is, after all, an unprecedented feat to be #1 in any time slot for 25 weeks, much less 25 years. Whether people watch out of habit or not, it’s good to see a soap opera being crowned instead of cancelled.

  4. SZima says:

    It has been many, many years since Y&R deserved to be #1! It surely hasn’t deserved it since I’ve starting watching daily, about 10 years ago. Yes, it has it’s moments of excellence. But so do all the other soaps that are still on the air (well, except for maybe B&B) and they deserve to be #1 too!
    It seems like GH has been creeping up on Y&R recently and I hope they knock them off their pedestal for once! Then maybe TPTB at Y&R will take notice and make the necessary changes for them to deserve to be #1. This show was so wonderful in the beginning, but for years it’s been a shadow of it’s former glory days. I’d love to see it come back!
    I agree about the pacing of the show. So many storylines needed to end long ago, but there is still no end in sight for some of them.
    >>We’ll probably have to wait until Phyllis is re-cast before the Summer Paternity mess is cleared up. By then, we may not care.
    >>The Delia’s Death storyline has gone on way too long, and involving Lord Victor in that mess has made NO sense whatsoever. He’s wasn’t related to the child and I doubt if they ever shared a scene.
    >>Never letting Jack win over Victor is the worst on-going plot on the show. Vic needs to be taken down and kept down for the foreseeable future! How boring is it to see Victor win every time? (I know Jack has had short-term victories over The Mustache, but nothing ever seems to last.)

    Finally, I know the reason Y&R is #1 is because of the ratings, so what is that telling us? That people keep watching crap and prefer it over a show that just might be much better? GH and DOOL have been hitting it out of the park often, more recently, and they deserve some of the love! And the viewers!!

  5. Johnny says:

    I am not sure how you are counting your decades, but Nick and Sharon are well into their third decade of involvement. They started in the 90′s, continued into the 00′s, and are now in the 10′s. That makes three decades. Maybe a writer with an ounce of creativity will come along and reunite them. They were that rarest of soap couple…young, in love, married and committed. They weathered storms and had problems, but they did it together. They worked through their problems. Both had flings, but they didnt divorce at the drop of a hat. And they were happy for a sustained, prolonged period of time. And not once were they “boring”. The only people I have ever heard say “Happy couples are boring” are soap writers and network executives. No fan has ever said that, or none that I know. I wish a writer would come along and throw out he soap opera unwritten rule book that states a couple must divorce at least twice. There are fresh new writers out there who could SO invigorate this medium. They seem content to have settled in for people who have been doing it for 40 or more years and who are just plain out of ideas and only write in stereotypical soap style.

  6. Claudette Colbert says:

    I think YR’s time slot is its best advantage. In my area, GH and DOOL both are on from 1PM to 2PM so they share the soap pool. YR has no competition other than local news and a game show. I think the show is very poorly written.

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