Credit: Howard Wise/JPI (4), Sean Smith/JPI

Is it too much for viewers to ask to be seen?

There was a time when The Young and the Restless was about haves and have-nots, when super-wealthy characters like Katherine Chancellor and Victor Newman were contrasted with Genoa City’s working class. And to be clear, by “working,” we mean working in recognizable jobs like beautician (Jill Foster) or waitress (Sally McGuire), not in vague executive positions that only require employees to dress snappily and hook up on their desks.

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, Juliana McCarthy, Brenda Dickson, season 1, 1973

“What do you mean, you have to be at work?”

Credit: Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Back then, if there was a gold digger on the loose, you knew exactly why she was prospecting. Now… beats the heck out of us. Take Sally Spectra. She’s supposed to be a scrappy, come-from-nothing kinda gal. Yet we’ve never seen her struggle for a minute. She bunked at the fancypants Grand Phoenix and, after failing in business on The Bold and the Beautiful, was moved into one executive suite after another on The Young and the Restless.

“I know you struggle, Sally. That champagne isn’t even imported.”

Credit: CBS screenshot

There’s nothing wrong with having affluent, glamorous characters, of course. We love to live vicariously through them. But we wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit of ourselves on the canvas, too. Not because we’re self-absorbed, either, but because… well… truth be told, we don’t care at this point whether Jabot Cosmetics or Newman Enterprises goes belly-up. Why would we? What would be the consequence? Some characters who are so wealthy that they could use $100 bills for firewood might have to sell off one of their Swiss chalets or their pied-à-terre in Manhattan. Big whoop.

lily victor laugh

“And then they traded us Boardwalk for the Electric Company! Can you imagine?”

Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

If Chancellor-Winters crashes and burns, so what? We might be spared another party at which literally nothing happens. But beyond that, what? Devon and Lily would go back to spending their fortunes, Billy would keep putting out podcasts as a public service to insomniacs, and Amanda and Imani would simply take on cases handed to them by other people that they know.

Nate proof Ashland Y&R

“Well, I have my M.D. so I guess I could work on Wall Street.”

Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

We don’t know about you, but we can’t relate to those “stakes.” (Do they even count as “stakes”?) But give us a character who has a job that they actually need — to pay the rent, to keep the kids in clothes that fit, to prepare for the disaster that is always around the corner — and that, we’ll get. If Victor and Jack play corporate ping-pong, it affects nothing of theirs but their egos.

Nick, Sharon update Y&R

“You’re right. I could live on the alimony from any one of my divorces.”

Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

Suppose they actually had employees, though. People who actually counted on unstable leaders like Victoria and Adam, Kyle and Summer, to put bread on the table. Give me the mail-room employee who’s afraid that the new boss is going to cost-cut by laying off “expendable” staff. Give me the office manager who fears that new management is going to bring in their sister’s niece’s cousin’s best friend to order staples and make coffee.

heather tom, scott reeves, victoria, ryan, yr, cbs

Ryan wouldn’t have had to sleep his way to the top if he’d started there.

Credit: CBS

That [bleep], we could relate to. The little people. Like us. Again, we’re not saying that we don’t love the eleganza extravaganza or the Devons and Abbys, the Lilys and Nikkis. But too much of the same thing gets repetitive and boring, especially when the cliffhanger is, “Oh my God! What if after all is said and done, I only have $5 million instead of $10?!?”

Drop your thoughts in a comment. And on your way, review Young & Restless’ long and storied history — including past characters who couldn’t so much as afford a glass of tap water at Society.