As I Saw It… The Young and the Restless

jeanne-cooperI’ve watched eight soaps in the last eight weeks. Some were good (All My Children), some were great (One Life to Live), and some made my week with them feel like an eternity.  Then along came The Young and the Restless.  I admit I was never a huge Y&R fan.  I watched it occasionally over the years but I was never a hard core fan.  After last week, I’m a convert.  I could write about all the happenings in Genoa City last week and how I enjoyed them, but instead lets focus on what Y&R does right.  Afterall, these are the things that won me over.

1. It’s The Veterans, Stupid!  Most shows push their veteran actors to the back burner after they stop looking hot in a bedroom scene.  Y&R not only relishes the fact that almost half of their cast has clocked in at least one full decade on the show, but the show’s producers are smart enough to know that those are the people we want to see.  If you go to a party who are most likely to want to spend time with?  Is it the person you don’t know or someone you’ve known for years?  Of course, everyone wants to be around familiar faces.  It makes sense that we want to watch the characters we’ve grown to know and love. Y&R has it’s share of newbies, but the vets are kept front and center.  Name one other show that has an eighty year old actress in a front burner storyline that involves half the cast? 

2. Talent On Screen/Talent Off Screen.  When Y&R first premiered it was known for being the “beautiful people soap” because it employed unknown actors who were, for the most, beautiful.  Not all were great actors, but they looked great.  Y&R is still glamorous, but the acting is superb.  It’s not fair to list them all because it would take up the entire page, but I have to mention that Melody Thomas Scott is the most underrated actress in daytime.  She brings Niki to life in a way that is so natural that you feel like you are watching a friend or a relative, not an actress playing a role.  All the great actors and actresses in the world can’t do justice to a show that’s not well written, produced, and directed. Fortunately, Y&R has a talented production team that knows how to make a good soap opera.  The writing is brilliant.  The storylines are great and the day to day writing is wonderful. The sets, the lighting, even the background music is all a notch above the other soaps. 

It’s a Soap Opera! At the end of the day, The Young and the Restless succeeds because it knows what it is.  Y&R doesn’t try to be Sex and the City or 24 or The Sopranos. Y&R doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.  The show’s producers know that soap fans want to see a good soap opera and that’s what they do: they make a good soap opera.  

And now my experiment is over.  I watched eight soaps, and I liked half of them.  Of the four I kept on my TiVo list (AMC, B&B, OLTL, and now Y&R), I will keep two for daily viewing: One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless have brought this former fan back to daytime.  

If you haven’t watched soaps in a while, please check out your former favorites because daytime television needs every viewer it can get.  If I wrote something about a show you like (or don’t like) that you don’t agree with, please don’t take offense.  I love soaps and I genuinely hope the industry will bounce back.   Thank you for reading my blog.  I appreciate the feedback I’ve received and I’m humbled by the fact that people actually read what I wrote and bothered to comment.  

Special thanks to Snark from Snark Weights In, Nelson Branco from TV Guide Canada, and Mark from MarkH’s Soap Musings for their kind words.  And check out The Chronicles of Von Klapp entertainment news blog next week for an article about soaps in which I was asked to participate.

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5 Responses to “As I Saw It… The Young and the Restless”

  1. I just KNEW that Y&R would impress you the most. Like you said, if you are a true fan of the soap opera genre then Y&R is the soap to be watching right now. It harkens back to the old-school formula of writing, pacing, rhythm, character-driven, long-term umbrella story lines. Melody Thomas Scott IS not only underrated but she has grown into arguably one of the most talented actresses in all of daytime. Her plus Jeanne Cooper plus Jess Walton, Michelle Stafford, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Eileen Davidson, Adrienne Frantz and Tracey Bregman make up the most talented female side of a soap cast currently on air. And kudos to Eric Braeden, Peter Bergman and Christian LeBlanc for being master thespians who devour their roles with passion, emotion, sub-text and specific individualistic human strengths and frailties. It is yet another sign that the Daytime Emmys show no rhyme or reason for how their nomination process works that neither Mr. Braeden or Mrs. Scott got pre-noms for some of their finest work ever on the show. Amelie Henlie is a lovely, good actress but she is no Victoria Newman and to have her get a pre-nom for supporting over Ms. Walton is another travesty.

    I am so glad that you enjoyed Y&R being that you were not a regular viewer and have discovered what a superior show it is especially considering the crap that most of the other shows are creating these days. OLTL is a very close second, in my opinion, to achieving that same level. This was such a great idea but I am curious about something. Now that this experiment is over and you have found soaps to reinvest some time into, do you plan to continue the blog or has this been just a one-time thing. You are a very good writer and we all know that the soaps need as many representing voices as they can get. You could concentrate on the shows you have enjoyed and critique and analyze themes and character motivation. Anyway, thank you for sharing this and even if you do not continue, internet soap fans have appreciated your unique take on the genre. Bravo and good luck in everything you do.

  2. Corey anticipated my question: I think those of us who have been following your “contest” (because, let’s face it, that is what it was…and what has made following your blog so fascinating), would be very interested to hear your continuing thoughts.

    Although it is implicit in what you wrote, I think it would also be instructive to have you…if you had time…explicitly list what it would have taken for other shows to stay on your DVR…what changes would you have needed to have seen?

  3. To answer both Corey and Mark: I don’t know. I’m very fortunate to have a great job that allows me to have a television in my office, but I’m enjoying OLTL and Y&R so much right now that I’d hate it if watching them became “a job.” I was asked to contribute to an article about soaps for the entertainment blog Chronicles of Von Klapp, and that got me to think that in a perfect world I could sit back and watch my soaps and occasionally voice my thoughts as a guest blogger on other sites. But alas, the world is not perfect so we shall see. I promise I’ll post any updates on here. 🙂 PS to Mark: the Klapp people wanted your input on their article but they said you didn’t have an email addy on your site. They asked if I had it and I don’t so maybe you can drop them a line if you’d like your two cents heard on their blog.

  4. Hi…that is an oversight on my part…I didn’t realize my email was hidden.

    It is Markhsoap@hotmail.com…please feel free to share it with Von Klapp or anyone else.

    I don’t want to make soap-watching work for you…but let’s hope you’ll be a “guest blogger” on occasion :-). Thanks again for this project.

  5. I wonder if you still feel that way now. I don’t know though being that you said you were never really a “hard-core” Y&R soap watcher you wouldn’t exactly know what’s going on. Anyway, Y&R is a far-cry from what it used to be. I truly hope that show gets canceled.

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