Viewers quit primetime television shows all the time. A show you were obsessed with in the first couple of seasons can lose steam and you can end up watching out of obligation to the point where it becomes like homework. Then it just becomes frustrating and you decide to break up with your show. It happens all the time. Many colleagues have dropped shows like True Blood and even Revenge.
But when do you give up on a daytime soap opera? Is now a good time to break up with The Young and the Restless?
While I haven’t enjoyed the show in quite some time, I feel like I have tuned in out of obligation this past year. Have I kept watching this mess of a show because I grew up with it? Because my family members have watched it throughout most of the show’s run that I’ve had this imaginary responsibility to continue watching? Is it out of obligation to the many cast members that I’ve enjoyed interviewing over the years? Is it so that I can have an informed opinion on the show when I’m blogging about it? I’m not sure I can continue any more writing about a show that continues to upset me. (Upsets me because I know it could be so much better than it is now.)
There comes a point where bad writing just becomes insulting to the viewer. Last week’s episode featured successful attorney Avery Baily Clark (Jessica Collins) call over the chief of police, Paul Williams (Doug Davidson, who is currently the show’s longest-running performer), because someone has been leaving her mean comments below her Internet cooking show. How realistic is this? I mean really.
Collins is well seasoned actress who got her start on former ABC soap Loving in the early 90s before finding primetime success by appearing on shows like Star Trek: Voyager, Beverly Hills 90210 and Tru Calling. The woman is a great actress. How insulting must it be for her to play a successful lawyer crying to the police over a few mean YouTube comments? How insulting is it that the writers would want the audience to believe that this is based in any reality?
Talking a few of the storyline points with a former 9-1-1 call taker, I was advised that most online comments don’t break the law. Name-calling isn’t a crime. However, if the comments are constantly from the same person and unwanted, then there may be ground for criminal harassment. “Every complaint is unique, and due to legalities, some comments can be perceived as abusive…but at the same time, basic common sense should also apply.”
Maybe it’s because I live in a big city, but I’m pretty sure if I called up the chief of police (even if I knew him or her personally), there’s no way they would come on over to handle a case about an angry online commenter. Someone harassing me and making death threats? Sure, they’d send over a uniformed officer to take a statement. In real life, a chief of police would be far too busy solving actual crime.
Remember when soaps used to be all glitzy and glamorous? Despite Sony hiring executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, the show has lost it’s glamour. If there was one positive soap audiences would give Phelps, it was her ability to modernize sets and dress the show up nicely, even if the writing was weak.
You used to want to be on William J. Bell’s The Young and the Restless. The women always looked gorgeous. The men always dressed sharp. There was this prestige about it. You wanted to be like Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) or be part of his family. You imagined your life like a Newman, where you grew up overnight, had an amazing love interest and scored a gig as an executive at your family company. Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow) is running a nightclub in Genoa City. Noah Newman (Robert Adamson), Victor’s 20-something grandson and legacy character has no storyline or motivation. The whole point of aging a soap kid is so that audiences can invest in the show’s next generation. A character like this should be driving storylines, not driving the audiences to sleep.
For a show renewed by CBS through 2017, it doesn’t seem all that invested in its future. Sure there’s no such thing as bad press, but when all you’ve got is bad press, one might consider running a tighter ship.
Losing your top performers or firing them shouldn’t stand in your way of putting out decent series. The show could have given the character of Phyllis Summers a longer rest rather than quickly hiring another actress to play the part (Gina Tognoni) the moment after Michelle Stafford quickly snuck into an ABC studio and taped an appearance on General Hospital. There are many other established characters that the show can write for. Hiring a third actor to play the role of Billy Abbott after heavily promoting the return of David Tom wasn’t a good decision either.
The Young and the Restless was all about the Newmans versus the Abbotts, these days, most of the storylines involve new characters with backstories that the audience doesn’t care about. Such a shame when there is 41 years of history to mine from. How smart would it be for the writers to do some research and dig through all that wealth of history and pen a story that isn’t insulting to the viewers or their intelligence? Soaps used to be about horrible things happening to glamorous people. There is no character on Y&R that any viewer would want to live vicariously through anymore. You have failed when your backstage drama is more tweeted about than what is happening on screen.
The daytime industry seems to be the only television genre where you fail upward. Phelps and co-head writer Jean Passanante all come from cancelled soaps. It currently takes three head writers to pen American’s number one daytime drama: Passanante, Shelly Altman and Tracey Thompson. You’d think with three writers, the show could be fresh and engaging. That there could be storylines which make the audiences think. Topics that would be grounded in business, society and reality. Altman’s proven she can do this type of work (Another World: When Judi Evans’ Paulina struggle to lose her pregnancy weight). But why aren’t we seeing similar character-drive stories on screen? Instead, we’re treated to corporate heirs discuss cocktail recipes a new online stalker every three months.
So, is it time for us to give up on The Young and the Restless? Seems that way. At least that’s what it seems like CBS and Sony have done.