The Young and the RestlessSoapbox
Punches Flew, Relationships Crumbled, Families Fractured — and It Was Pretty Awesome
In the real world, deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others is called schadenfreude. But when the bad things are happening to fictional characters — as was the case during this week’s episodes of The Young and the Restless — it’s just called being a soap-opera fan. If we didn’t own calendars, we’d have sworn it was November sweeps… which leaves us wondering what the heck the writers have in store for next month!
Timing Is Everything
Over the past few weeks, I’ve complained quite a bit about the rushed storylines on The Young and the Restless’ sister soap, The Bold and the Beautiful. Because of that, someone asked on Twitter why I wasn’t equally unhappy about the pacing where the revelation of Nate and Elena’s tryst was concerned. After thinking long and hard about that question, I realized that the difference lay in the way the storylines in question played out. Unlike the Bold & Beautiful tales involving Steffy’s addiction or Ridge and Shauna’s wedding, the one in which Elena’s guilt drove her to confess her sin to Devon never felt as if it had skipped a beat.
Elena sleeping with Nate definitely came out of left field, but the writers made it work by not actually trying to explain it. Sometimes, people (especially those who happen to be soap-opera characters) get caught up in emotions that are bigger than themselves and do things that defy logic. As a human being who has made his share of really horrendous mistakes, I get that sometimes, we make awful decisions that teach us what it truly means to live to regret something.
It’s also worth noting that we don’t necessarily know Elena all that well. Unlike, say, Nick and Victoria, whom we have known since they were kids, we don’t know Elena’s history. Clearly, having the man she loves bond with his dead wife’s doppelgänger brought to the surface her insecurities, many of which are likely based on things which happened long before she moved to Genoa City. Those demons drove her to sleep with Nate in a moment of weakness which resulted in a crushing guilt she couldn’t live with. Could the show have stretched this out for weeks, with Elena weeping in corners and hiding her secret until it was ultimately discovered by Devon (or someone else, who could use it against her)? Of course. But it made perfect sense (thanks in large part to the incredible performances by Brytni Sarpy) for Elena to instead unburden her soul, even if it was at the expense of her relationship.
Speaking of fantastic performances, both Bryton James (Devon) and Sean Dominic (Nate) were also given their chance to shine as this messy scenario played out. As Devon sat at Society, staring into his drink and trying to figure out where everything had gone wrong, James’ face was an ever-shifting landscape which, without words, let us see every emotion his alter ego was feeling. Later, after ordering Elena to move out and trying to wrap his head around what was happening, Devon expressed his struggle perfectly. “Give me time,” he snapped at Lily, “to process that my cousin had sex with my girlfriend!”
Take all the time you need, Devon. Because this story’s just getting started.
The Not-So-New Guy
Which brings me to Dominic. I’m going to confess something I’m not necessarily proud of: Until about two weeks ago, I didn’t really “get” what Nate brought to the table. For a character who’s been around as long as Nate has, he just hadn’t really made much of an impression on me. Now, I have come to realize that it had nothing to do with Dominic (who I loved on Greenleaf) or Nate and everything to do with the writers. Over a year into Dominic’s run, they hadn’t really given him much to do (which was also true of his predecessor in the role, Brooks Darnell). Even Nate’s romance with Amanda was treated as a place-holder, as if everyone was just waiting for their real stories to start.
When did things fall into place? Honestly, about 10 minutes before Elena and Nate had sex. It was as if someone behind the scenes had had an epiphany. “You know,” the voice in their head clearly said, “this guy is crazy hot, has great chemistry with pretty much everyone on the canvas and… oh my God, he should have sex with Elena!”
While this week didn’t necessarily give the fourth player in this saga — Mishael Morgan’s Amanda — much to do, it’s pretty clear that that situation is about to change. In this quartet, the CBS sudser has the kind of partner-swapping, heart-breaking, audience-dividing, ratings-boosting drama that can and should drive stories for a very long time to come.
Women Aren’t the Only Ones Who Can Be Scorned
I’ve struggled with the character of Adam for a while now. Between the story in which what happened in Vegas refused to stay in Vegas and the “I Was a Pre-Teen Killer” saga, I was, quite honestly, exhausted. Both stories involved events which unfolded off screen with characters I didn’t know, and neither really made sense. Plus, I am one of those viewers who has never been able to buy Sharon and Adam as a couple, because I mean, come on! The dude caused Ashley’s miscarriage and then gave her Sharon’s newborn baby as a “make-good,” letting the woman he supposedly loved grieve for months and…
Breathe, Richard. Breathe.
But suddenly, I’m digging the Adam story. What’s changed? A few things. First, it seems we’re going to just sort of drop the Vegas mess, which is a major win in my book. Then there’s the fact that when Billy published that big exposé, it didn’t just talk about recent events but spilled the tea on the whole kidnapping-Faith thing. (Watching Faith slowly develop into a bad seed as a result? Total bonus.) Adam then warned Rey that he was basically coming for Sharon, only for Chelsea to overhear everything he was saying — ouch! — and walk out on him.
Like the Devon/Elena/Nate/Amanda story, Adam’s saga is suddenly messy as heck, which is exactly how I like my soaps.
Around the Town
• I’m not entirely sure what we’re supposed to make of the Summer/Kyle situation. On the one hand, he’s still insisting that he loves her and wants to make things work, claiming that he only confided in Lola because Dina had died and Summer was literally AWOL. Yet Dina hadn’t died when Kyle reached out to his former girlfriend in New York City and, not for nothing, but just how out of the loop was Summer that nobody in her extended family reached out to tell her Dina had died? (Girl, set a Google Alert for both “Abbott” and “Newman” if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on big developments.)
• Dina’s passing was every bit as emotional as we hoped it would be, and it was nice that they were able to bring Marla Adams back to the set for her alter ego’s final scenes. The whole Teardrop of Love necklace story is a little too sappy for me, although it was a nice touch that Jack had it turned into individual pieces so that everyone in the family could carry Dina with them always. (Wonder if Jack made cufflinks for Theo, too… or, dare I ask, Keemo?)
• Gloria’s back in town, and all I can say is, “All hail Judith Chapman.” I don’t know that there’s anybody else working in soaps today who so perfectly embodies old-school glamour. On the surface, Gloria is… well, shallow, self-centered and suffering from an overdeveloped martyr complex. But just beneath lurks a woman who wants what she can never have and wouldn’t trust it if someone gave it to her. Chapman is daytime’s Bette Davis, and Gloria is her Margo Channing. (Don’t know the reference? Find the movie All About Eve and, while watching, just try not to imagine Chapman in the lead role.)
So what were your highs and lows where this week’s episodes of The Young and the Restless were concerned? Who do you think will wind up with whom when the dust settles around the various couples who stirred things up? Hit the comments with your thoughts, then be sure to visit this photo gallery in which we look at actors we want back in daytime (including Young & Restless’ former Cane, Daniel Goddard) and the parts we think they’d be perfect for.