Young & Restless and Bold & Beautiful Have One Big Bad Problem in Common — and It’s Entirely Fixable!
If you go back to the same well too often, ya know what happens to the well? It runs dry!
What does a good soap need? Complicated families, star-crossed lovers, good guys trying to do the right thing and bad guys doing just the opposite. The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful have all of the above in spades… except for one: bad guys.
Think about it: Young & Restless hasn’t had a real mustache-twirling villain on its canvas since 2016, when Ray Wise last aired as the nefarious Ian Ward. And before Sheila Carter’s return to Bold & Beautiful, that show hadn’t had a bona-fide baddie around… well, since the last time it brought Sheila back!
Credit: Jesse Grant/JPI
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Let’s talk about Sheila for a moment, shall we? She’s infamous. Short of Days of Our Lives’ Stefano DiMera, she’s arguably daytime’s most legendary villain. So we get why the sister soaps that share her bring her back now and again. But by this point, it’s not so much “now and again” as it is “now and again and again and again.”
After her original run as a baby-snatching husband-swiper, Young & Restless gave us Sheila in a fake nose with a British accent. It gave us Sheila as Phyllis. It gave us Sheila-but-not-really in her sister Sarah, who wreaked havoc as “Lipstick Lauren” Fenmore.
Bold & Beautiful, in turn, gave us Sheila as Mommie Dearest to daughter Erica/Mary. It gave us Sheila as queen of the jungle. It gave us Sheila the Eric Forrester-obsessed Il Giardino waitress and, finally, Sheila the Finn Finnegan-obsessed Nurse Ratched.
We understand why. By and large, as a catalyst, Sheila works. Love her or hate her, when she’s on, viewers know that [bleep] is going to happen. But isn’t it kinda… lazy? Like saying, “Dang, it’s hard to create a compelling new villain. Why don’t we just use the same one again instead?” Doesn’t it also send a message to the audience that, “Nah, we don’t really have any new ideas, so we’re just going to give you the same thing you sorta liked last time?”
Credit: CBS/Getty Images (2), JPI
‘The Bad Old Days’
Back in the day, the late, great William J. Bell, co-creator of both soaps, was fantastic at introducing memorable new antagonists. Does any longtime Young & Restless viewer not vividly remember Lorie Brooks’ monster-in-law Vanessa Prentiss, who hid her scarred face — and her diabolical plots! — behind a veil? Or Rapunzel-tressed Lisa Mansfield, who once held Brad Carlton in a cage rather than let him be the one that got away twice? Or David Kimble, the literal lady killer who met the most apropos end in soap history when he was crushed to death in a trash compactor?
Of course we remember them — every bit as well as we recall the days when shockwaves were being made by Bell’s more recent unhinged hell-raisers, Young & Restless’ Michael Baldwin (who tore through a freaking wall to attack Christine Blair!) and Phyllis Summers (who once tried to make roadkill of “The Bug” and Paul Williams) or Bradley Bell’s Bold & Beautiful psycho Morgan DeWitt. (We’ve tried to erase from our minds the image of her in that clown getup, we just haven’t been able to pull it off!)
Credit: Sean Smith/JPI
A Challenge to Which the Shows Can Rise
So where, we ask, is the next Lisa or David? The next Phyllis or Morgan? Really good soaps require really bad people. Young & Restless’ Ashland Locke is bad, sure, but he’s bad with a lowercase B. Adam Newman, who once gave away his future wife’s baby and plotted to blow up his entire family, has done things that are just as awful Ashland, and he’s still considered a romantic lead and antihero.
We know Young & Restless and Bold & Beautiful can craft new villains capable of spinning webs so tangled that they resemble knots. Our hope is that they once again will. General Hospital does it (cycling through fresh pot-stirrers like Shiloh, Peter August and Esme Prince), and so does Days of Our Lives (which has such a stacked bench of baddies, it’s had to put out extra seats). Time for Young & Restless and Bold & Beautiful to do the same. On your way to the comments…
See how we ranked daytime’s greatest villains of all time in the below photo gallery.