HOLLYWOOD—I cannot believe that the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless” is celebrating 50 years on broadcast TV this year. This soap has remained the #1 soap in daytime TV for nearly three decades and it has delivered us iconic storylines for years to come. March 26, 1973, that was the day that the love child of William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell who created the soap back in 1973 that began with the wealthy Brooks family and the working class Foster family has evolved over the years bringing diversity along the way.
I mean you have Genoa City royalty in Victor and Nikki Newman, John, Tracie, Ashley and Jack Abbott, Phyllis Summers, Neil Winters, Jill Abbott, Katherine Chancellor, Christine Blair, Paul Williams, Lauren Fenmore Baldwin, Michael Baldwin, Brad Carlton, Sheila Carter, Phillip Chancellor, Diane Jenkins, Sharon Newman, Nicholas Newman, Victoria Newman, Danny Romalotti, Nina Webster, Drucilla Winters, Malcolm Winters, Olivia Winters, and so many more iconic characters people.
These are characters that so many Americans have come to love over the past five decades. The clashes, the fights, the storylines and the fictional town of Genoa City that has had so many storms turn deadly over the years or led to catastrophic chaos. In the current era, there are only four soap operas still remaining: “Y&R,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital” and “Days of Our Lives.” With “Days of Our Lives” it is no longer on NBC; it now airs on its streaming network Peacock. So we only have 3 soap operas still airing daily on broadcast TV.
You cannot forget that iconic music that when you hear it you know “Y&R” is on TV. In addition to those opening credits that have changed over the years. From seeing the faces of the icons or as I call them the titans of the soap, to the young and new comers, the ever-changing opening credits have always been a staple for the soaps still airing on TV.
I still believe the best days of many modern day soaps were in the 1980s and 1990s. The writing was just so crisp, original and struck a chord with viewers. How can you forget the abortion storyline involving Ashley Abbott, how about the tragic death of Cassie that still sends chills down the spine, Lily battling cancer, Lily losing her ‘so called’ husband Cane in a shooting, Christine’s date rape, tantalizing baby swaps, Chelsea nearly committing suicide, Sharon’s breast cancer battle, Adam Newman and every wicked tactic he cooked up, cyberbullying, Nathan, Keesha and Olivia and the AIDS narrative, the death of Delia after being struck by Adam, crazed Patty fatally shooting Colleen after Victor and Jack’s decades long rivalry erupted yet again, Michael stalking Christine and so many more.
Soaps have a tendency to deliver a slow burn when it comes the narratives that have a buildup that viewers cannot wait to see erupt. You might know the secret, but the characters you watch on a daily basis do not. So when they are finally clued in on the truth it leaves you feeling satisfied, you get to see them react to the truth being dropped, which in many cases lead to epic and I mean epic acting scenes that become iconic in the world of “Y&R.” Joshua Morrow and Sharon Case bidding adieu to Cassie before she dies, just chills down the spine people.
Lily learning from Neil that she has cancer sends tears down the eyes, not to mention that scene where Cane helps his wife cut off all her hair. So many women who have battled cancer or lived with family members who suffered from cancer know the struggle. Learning a child that you suspect is yours doesn’t belong to you? Talk about grief and rage it has transpired more times than one can count on “Y&R.” As of late the return of Diane Jenkins from the dead was a stunning surprise because I didn’t see that coming a million miles away. The show was very stealth in keeping that secret from the viewers until the big reveal people, and look where things are now headed. “Y&R” knows how to craft a good narrative, yes some of the storylines are recycled a bit more than I would like, but when they have a good one it sticks the landing.
This iconic soap has remained a staple because they weave so many narratives with all the characters on the soap. Yes, over the years you learn that each day of the week you might get something different with all the characters. Some stories might be hot button for days, but others pop in throughout the week as well. That is something “Y&R” does so effortless it gives all its characters the opportunity shine with stories that the viewers can connect with. Some of them are crazy as hell, but they are entertaining as hell also. “The Young and the Restless” has entertained us for 50 years, so here’s to another 50 years of entertainment!