Credit: CBS screenshot

She can take all the seats.

It takes a lot to turn a Young & Restless viewer against Phyllis. But the CBS soap managed to do it — at least for me — with the September 21 episode. You can read the full recap here, but in a nutshell, she spent the hour taunting Diane, then physically got in her face and pushed and pushed until, as anyone would, the lady Lazarus snapped at her. From there, things only got worse.

Now, before we go on, let me be clear: This isn’t about performance. At all. Michelle Stafford, so well-matched on screen with Susan Walters, played the [bleep] out of the confrontation. It was thrilling to watch. But it was also, from a character perspective, upsetting. When Phyllis finally got a rise out of her nemesis, she gloated. “There it is! That’s the real Diane!”

As if anyone in Diane’s shoes wouldn’t have reached her breaking point after being provoked and provoked and provoked. And I know that Diane is a scheme queen. I know that she’s done awful things and will again. But since the moment that she rose from the grave, Phyllis has been attacking her as if there was no chance that she could have changed her ways. And my question is the same as Diane’s: Where does she get off riding on such a high horse?

If Phyllis’ goal was to make us feel sorry for Diane, it worked.

Credit: CBS screenshot

Pot, Meet Kettle

As Diane pointed out earlier in the episode, half of Genoa City has committed terrible acts. Victor imprisoned a rival in his basement and fed him rats. Michael tried to rape Christine. Adam plotted to blow up his entire family. And Phyllis… where do we begin? Oh, I know — how about with her attempt to fatally squash “The Bug” with her car?

More: Too-sweet video of Young & Restless star’s kids

The only reason Phyllis isn’t serving time for trying to murder Christine is that she wasn’t a federal officer when the crime was committed, and the statute of limitations had run out by the time charges were pressed. But imagine if Christine was on the show more. Imagine if she came at Phyllis as relentlessly as Phyllis has been coming for Diane. You can well imagine Phyllis crying, “But I’ve changed!”


Credit: CBS screenshot

What’s the Difference?

In fact, Phyllis does maintain that she’s a different person than the one who drugged Danny Romalotti to steal him from his wife, then duped him into thinking that son Daniel was his. She’s even laughed about the fact that yep, her past is as checkered as a picnic blanket. But she’s been allowed to start over. She’s been given a pass by all of Genoa City. So shouldn’t she, of all people, be able to wrap her head around the notion that individuals can turn over a new leaf?

Obviously, I get why Phyllis wouldn’t want to give Diane the kind of second chance from which she herself has benefited. The thing is, it just isn’t a good look for her. My impression is that we are supposed to be rooting for Phyllis. But when she’s being written so routinely as less strong than antagonistic, less passionate than bullying, that becomes harder and harder to do.

What do you think? On your way to the comments…

Review the reformed schemer’s life and crimes in the below photo gallery.