Everything Wrong With Young & Restless’ Adam/Billy Story and How It Exposes All of the Show’s Current Problems
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We’ve spent a year watching a story that ultimately went nowhere.
For quite some time now, many fans have felt as if The Young and the Restless has been rudderless. The talented cast is wandering around well-appointed sets dressed to the nines, but it’s all style, little substance. Over and over, viewers on social media have expressed a sense of frustration, much of which focuses on a storyline which has all but consumed the show ever since several threads were woven into one gloriously uninteresting tapestry.
First, there was the fallout — if it could be called that — of what went down when Chance and Adam crossed paths in Las Vegas. Simultaneously, we learned that Victor had been keeping secret for decades the fact that as a child, Adam had accidentally killed a man. And finally, Billy began to — for lack of a better explanation — lose focus, spending his time throwing back drinks in a dive bar with an equally-adrift Amanda.
Over time, these stories have come to sort of represent all of the problems that viewers have been expressing with the soap. Because here we sit, a full year later, with nothing to show for our investment in this mess.
A big part of the problem was evident from the beginning, and it stemmed from a violation of the most basic of soap rules: Show us, don’t tell us.
Both the Las Vegas and Kansas storylines involved events which happened off screen to characters we’d never heard of. Worse, the Kansas story made no sense on multiple levels. If Victor had been sitting on this secret for decades, why had he not used it against Adam during their many, many battles? Why cover up the death in Kansas when it was obviously an accident and Adam had been protecting his mother?
Throwing Billy into the mix didn’t help matters. Yes, he was still hurting over and blamed Adam for Delia’s death, but it felt as if that story had been largely dealt with when Billy’s “alter ego” tried to do away with his nemesis.
In any case, this all built to someone taking aim at Adam but shooting Chance instead. Given how many people on the canvas had reason to hate Adam, this should have been a fun whodunit with a plethora of suspects. There were opportunities for twists galore. Might Chance have been the intended target? Could Chelsea, who was ticked at her spouse and suffering headaches, have developed one of those trendy brain tumors that make people do things they normally wouldn’t? Maybe budding alcoholic Faith — wanting her former kidnapper/would-be stepdad out of mom Sharon’s life for good — have had one too many and done the deed?
Instead, the investigation quickly focused almost exclusively on Billy (whom we all knew hadn’t actually done it) before revealing Alyssa, to whom we still had no connection, as the culprit. Fallout-wise, there’s been practically none. Billy and Adam still engage in near-daily button-pushing sessions but have added bickering about who pushed Alyssa over the edge to the top of their agendas.
Even the relationships which should have been edged toward the breaking point by this story were only minimally impacted, in large part because we’re simply unsure of who we’re supposed to be rooting for in the happily-ever-after department. Adam declared his love to Sharon one day, only to — upon finding out that Chelsea had heard those words — swear that Connor’s mom was his true love. Sharon claims to love Rey but is clearly rushing down the aisle to avoid her feelings for Adam.
Honestly, the Chelsea/Adam/Sharon/Rey story has all the makings of an emotionally gripping tale about two people (Chelsea and Rey) having their lives destroyed because of their love for people with conflicted hearts. Instead, Adam and Sharon have come off as alternately cruel, insensitive, indecisive and immature, while Chelsea has seemed downright masochistic. Although Rey looks like a doormat, that’s sort of in keeping with his character, given what we know about his marriage to ex-wife Mia.
At the end of the day, this story — which, again, has been unfolding for over a year — has had no actual impact. A good soap saga not only has a ripple effect across the canvas but consequences for the players. Yet Adam is still stewing in his own bitterness, Billy remains determined to see him punished, Chance appears to have suffered no long-term impact from having been shot, and even Alyssa went out with a whimper as opposed to in a blaze of vengeance-seeking glory.
As we said at the start, this story serves as something of a microcosm for the bigger problems which have plagued Young & Restless for the past year or so. The focus is on too few characters (relegating much-loved folks like Paul, Mariah, Michael and Lauren to glorified background players), and the stories have no sense of urgency.
On the plus side, this is a show that has gone through slumps before. All of the pieces are in place for it to rebound under the right conditions. But first, a hard look needs to be taken at what’s not working and how the audience is (or isn’t) responding. Long a jewel in the CBS Daytime crown, Young & Restless desperately needs help in regaining its former luster.
Do you agree with our take? Before hitting the comments to share your thoughts on the topic, why not take a look at the below gallery in which we revisit the show’s 2020 plots.