The Young and the RestlessSoapbox
Young & Restless Recreates Classic General Hospital Moment, But Who Did it Better? Plus — What’s Working, What’s Not and Why Rey Just Needs To Give It Up
April 19-23, 2021
CBS screenshot; ABC
Every now and then, it’s good to shake things up. So this week, your usual Young & Restless columnist Candace and I decided to pull a Freaky Friday, with her instead writing about The Bold and the Beautiful while I opine on this week’s events in Genoa City. But before we dive in, a confession…
First Things First
The Young and the Restless is the first soap I remember getting hooked on. The year was 1979, and Katherine Chancellor — wrongly presumed dead — was slipping romantic rival Suzanne Lynch hallucinogenics-laced chocolates and haunting her by wandering around the mansion in a white, diaphanous gown singing “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.” I swear, in my memory, Katherine was also using spiders to torment the bad girl who’d stolen hubby Derek Thurston, but I could be making that up.
Ever since, I’ve been a pretty devoted Young & Restless viewer, although I’ll admit that over the past few months, I’ve slacked off. So while I’ve checked in occasionally on CBS’ top-rated sudser, I’ve often had to rely on Candace’s recaps to fill in the blanks. But with May sweeps coming up, I thought this would be an excellent time to check back in. After all, surely the show must be laying the groundwork for the exciting stuff to come during the all-important ratings period… right?
Well, it’s a theory.
You can tell we’ve been on the “Who owns Cyaxares?” merry-go-round way too long because I no longer have to look up how to spell the name of the company. (Which, by the way, sounds way more like one of those medications with the endless list of side effects always being advertised during the soaps than a media company.)
More: Ranking daytime’s all-time best couples
Longtime soap fans recognized the scenes in which Ashland had a heart attack and Victor refused to get help unless his rival signed over Cyaxares as a rip-off of (or tribute to, depending on how generous you’re feeling) a similar scenario which played out on General Hospital way back in 1980 (and which can be seen in the video below).
The difference is that in those scenes, we were deeply invested in the twisted bond between Edward Quartermaine and his mini-me daughter Tracy, which had played out for several years (and would keep right on going). The Victor/Ashland scenes were just another plot point in a storyline that has become increasingly tiresome and seems determined to make Victor incredibly unlikeable… not because of what he did to a character we don’t know but rather, because of what he’s doing to Victoria.
Yet again, Victoria — arguably the loyalest of Victor’s children — is being screwed over by her father in favor of Adam. We’re to believe that Victor’s actions are a result of the guilt he feels where Adam is concerned. But frankly, that guilt has never made any sense. And even if Victor did have reason to feel guilty about events which unfolded when Adam was a child, the slate was pretty much wiped clean back when Adam caused Ashley to miscarry his father’s baby.
Or when Adam teamed up with Jack to frame Victor for murder.
Or when Adam swapped out his dad’s medications and nearly killed him.
But as usual, I digress.
The point is, I just don’t care who owns Cyaxares. Move it along, people, ’cause there’s nothing to see here.
The Smartest Person in the Room
Concurrently, there’s the Tara/Kyle/Summer scenario. While Summer hasn’t always made the best of decisions (as evidenced by the whole “Let’s fly to Los Angeles to dig up dirt on Sally” thing), she’s actually being the voice of reason here. Every time Tara and Kyle take yet another secret meeting, the look on Summer’s face pretty much screams, “What is wrong with you people? Why do you keep getting together to say we can’t keep getting together?”
When Young and Restless introduced Tara and Ashland, I was super excited. They seemed like exactly what the show needed in order to shake things up… and honestly, I’m still convinced they can be the remedy for at least some of what ails the soap. But I’m losing faith fast thanks to the predictable, sometimes nonsensical way they’re being written.
Law and Disinterest
Along those same lines, I was thrilled when — a year after Mishael Morgan’s return — we finally started meeting Amanda and Hilary’s biological family. Imani immediately captured my attention and left me wanting more, as did matriarch Naya. These are interesting, complex characters with a whole lotta baggage just waiting to be unpacked.
What they didn’t need was this story about a maybe-murder that happened off screen decades ago. While I definitely want to spend more time with this intriguing set of new characters, I’d rather do it over awkward family dinners than boring conversations about a legal case in which we have no investment (despite the vague Victor connection).
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
We all kinda knew that Rey and Sharon’s marriage was doomed from the start, right? What’s interesting to me is the audience reaction to the story that’s unfolding right now. Obviously, there’s the natural divide between those who want to see Adam and Sharon reunite and those who hope to see Rey prevail. And of course, pretty much everyone agrees that it’s insane that Rey is investigating his own poisoning.
But hey, when you’re the only cop in town, that’s going to happen. (Come back, Paul, come back!)
No, what I find fascinating is how many people paint Rey as the bad guy in this scenario, seeing his behavior as borderline abusive toward Sharon. At first, I didn’t get it, but I now realize that what’s happening here is a phenomenon we see play out a lot: Portions of the audience forget that the characters don’t know what we do.
In other words, the Sharon/Adam fans are furious at Rey for continuing to pursue a case against a man they know to be wrongly accused. But of course, Rey doesn’t know that and really has no reason to think anyone other than Adam might have poisoned him. That being the case, why wouldn’t Rey be angry at his wife for continually defending Adam?
• I had to laugh when Young & Restless’ Instagram feed posted the below pic as an “Earth Day throwback.” Why? Well, you might recall that while in that corn field, Sharon was “attacked” by a crop-dusting plane. Call me crazy, but I’ve never really associated spraying chemicals on crops with Earth Day!
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• It drives me insane that so many scenes on this show take place in settings that make no sense at all. For example, why in the world would Abby hang out at the Grand Phoenix — let alone host an event there — given her animosity toward owner Phyllis? Why did Victor casually swing by there for a cup of coffee, other than so that he could cross paths with Billy and Lily? Why did Amanda and her newfound kin meet at Society to discuss secret details about their case instead of an office or home? Why does everyone at Jabot now spend every minute of the workday hanging out in the boardroom instead of their offices or at least a break room, where it would make sense for random characters to cross paths? I get the need for fewer sets, but more thought into which ones to use and how might be in order.
• The fact that I spent so much time this week focused on where scenes were unfolding, as evidenced above, is problematic. Because if what’s unfolding on the screen is compelling, you shouldn’t have time to worry about where the characters are or what they’re wearing.
• There were several really nice, casual history references this week. For example, Amanda brought up the fact that Victor pled guilty to bribery-related charges back in 2004. And as Jabot was hit with a series of issues at their factories, Jack mentioned the tainted face cream incident which caused the company so many problems in 2006. Too bad Gloria, who was responsible for that mess, wasn’t in the room so that portrayer Judith Chapman could give us one of her classic “Who, me?” reaction shots.
• As a guy, maybe I’m totally wrong here, but it felt this week as if the beats in the Mariah story — particularly involving morning sickness — were the kind of thing you play three months in, not what seemed like days after the implantation.
• Anybody else watch the Jack/Nina scenes and think… “Yeah, I could ship these two!” I also dug the Lola/Nate vibes, although the cynic in me couldn’t help pointing out that she rarely emerged from Society’s kitchen until portrayer Sasha Calle got a whole lot of publicity after being cast as Supergirl…
• How naive was Billy to send Victoria flowers, given that she recently blurted out that she still loves him? Lily is too smart to be caught up in this mess and needs to just walk away. Otherwise, they’ll be able to recycle recent Rey/Sharon/Adam scripts and just change the names to Lily/Billy/Victoria.
Wow, it turned out I had a lot to say… I suspect y’all will be thrilled to have Candace back next week, when I’ll be returning to my usual Bold & Beautiful stomping grounds. But before hitting the comment section with your take on this week’s episodes, I’d like to pause for just a moment as we reflect on a loss that had a major impact on both The Young and the Restless as a show and the audience as a whole. Because it was two years ago today that Genoa City learned that Neil Winters had passed away. This was no ordinary soap opera death, as it was necessitated by the real-life passing of the character’s portrayer, Kristoff St. John, several months earlier. Join us, won’t you, as we flash back to some of our favorite moments in the life of the much-missed character.