The Devastating Message The Young and the Restless Seems to Be Sending Fans of Doug Davidson and Paul — Plus, a Photo Album Full of Memories
John Paschal/JPI (2), Aaron Montgomery/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI
What does it say about the show — and what it thinks of us — that Genoa City doesn’t have a place for the Emmy winner and his character?
For some time now, we’ve struggled with the way that The Young and the Restless treats so many of its legacy characters. Either they’re reduced to supporting players (like Michael and Lauren), relegated to the role of talk-to (like Traci) or left to spout exposition (as Victor and Nikki recently, grievously were).
That, or like Doug Davidson’s Paul, they’re simply shooed off the canvas and rarely if ever mentioned. (Read his reaction here.)
We’ve tried to understand. Really, we have. We’ve told ourselves that daytime is cyclic: One year you’re hot, the next you’re not, the next you could be again. Characters have always rotated to and from the frontburner. So why did we find this so upsetting?
Then it hit us. First of all, characters aren’t regularly rotating to and from the frontburner. Since Beth Maitland returned to the show, has Traci had an actual story that was about her, not Cane and Lily, not her mother — her? Peter Bergman’s Jack is finally, finally getting a hint of a flirtation with Sally, but before this, he had spent so much time on the backburner, we had started to fear we’d never see him unless he was weighing in on son Kyle’s life, Kyle’s nemesis Theo or Kyle’s ladies love. And even before Eileen Davidson dropped to recurring status, when was the last time that Ashley had been treated like the blue-chip heroine that she is?
It had been a while, right? And here’s why it bugs us so much. All of the characters to whom The Young and the Restless is giving the short end of the stick are… let’s say on the older side of young. So what’s our takeaway from that? What’s the message that it feels like the show is sending us? Once we’re past a certain age, we’re done, that’s what. We can forget about love, lust, romance, fun. We’ve gotta just step aside and let the kids have their time in the sun.
At least that’s how we interpret the soap’s handling of its vets. And we don’t like it, not one damn bit. As we mature along with our favorite characters, we want to think that we remain vital human beings who are capable of anything. And we want to see that reflected in the characters we know, love and identify with.
Do we want to see them played as giggly teenagers fawning over their latest crush? No, of course not. But we want to see fully fleshed-out characters whose wisdom and experience gives them perspective. It may change what they want, but they must still want, period.
Surely, Jill desires more out of life than to butt into granddaughter-in-law Abby’s maternity journey. Gloria has to crave more than her new gig as Lauren’s gal Friday. And Paul… our dear, much-missed Paul. He’s gotta want more than a job to which he apparently never has to report and the occasional nacho-eating scene. (No, Young & Restless, you’re never living that down. Ever.)
Watch: The Life and Times of Paul Williams
What do you think, fans? How do you interpret the way the show treats is older cast members, and what’s your feeling about that interpretation? On your way to the comments, stop off at the below photo gallery, which reviews the life and times of Paul Williams. After all, it’s more of him than you’re likely to see on the show anytime soon.