Read our Y&R Articles
By The Shawnee News-Star July 30, 1998
'The Young and the Restless' marks 500
weeks at No. 1
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Tallying up divorces, betrayals and fatal diseases on
any soap opera worth its suds would be tough. But "The Young and
the Restless" can lay confident claim to one statistic: For 500 weeks, it's
been daytime's top serial.
Since Dec. 26, 1988, the CBS drama has held the No. 1 spot against
such veteran competition as "General Hospital" and "Days of Our Lives,"
keeping viewers hooked on the lives and loves of the residents of fictional
Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott and other stars were set to mark the
milestone today with balloons and a "brief celebration" at CBS
Television City, the network said. Then, presumably, it's back to the daily
soap opera grind.
Five hundred consecutive ratings wins for a daytime drama appears
to be a record. In fickle television land, where a show can be washed up
after a few airings, it might even be called an eternity.
For CBS, it's clearly a blessing. Because of "The Young and the
Restless," which airs at 12:30 p.m. EDT, and top game show performer "The
Price Is Right," the network next March can anticipate marking its 10th
season in a row as daytime's No. 1 network.
In a period of steady broadcast erosion, day side for CBS has shown
growth. When "The Young and the Restless" premiered in 1973, CBS
averaged 5 million daytime viewers a week. Its average now is about 6.4
Eclipsed by NBC in prime time and late night, CBS is entitled to
crow. And although its audience for nighttime shows like "Diagnosis Murder"
is much older, CBS daytime attracts more of the advertiser-favored youth
There is a touch of irony here, since the title of "The Young and the
Restless" would suggest it's a baby-faced cast drawing younger fans. Not
so: The drama's star romantic couple, Victor and Nikki Newman, played
by Braeden and Scott, are over 40.
The hour-long show was among the first serials in the 1970s to exploit
America's burgeoning youth obsession. But catering to one age group isn't
the reason for its success, observers say.
Solid storytelling and characters are the key to "Y&R," as aficionados call
the show created by husband-and-wife team William J. Bell and Lee Phillip
Bell. William recently surrendered the head writer's reins to Kay Alden, but
remains executive producer.
"What they have is consistency," Lynn Leahey, editor-in-chief of Soap
Opera Digest, says. "That sounds so dry and boring, but when people
watch soap operas what's important is familiarity and being able to
trust the characters -- 'Yeah, that surprises me but it makes sense the
character would do that."'
There's a depth to the show cultivated over years of exploring the same
people, such as the on-again, off-again love of Victor and Nikki.
The serial "doesn't go for big explosions or those production type
tricks.... The draw in soaps is what will happen to these people that I know
and love and care about," Lynn Leahey says.
Those who tend to sneer at daytime's never-ending plot twists and emotional
entanglements should note how much these elements have become part of
prime-time series. Even the issues-driven "Law & Order" fell prey last
season, although its producer has vowed to reform.
Soap buffs, meanwhile, are calling their own fouls. A move toward more
explicit sexuality raised the hackles of some "Y&R" fans, who thought "The
Young and the Restless" should not become "The Hot and the Bothered."
"Well, yesterday's show topped it all," read one viewer's recent posting to
a "Y&R" web site, criticizing an office scene in which the frisky Grace
Turner (Jennifer Gareis) does a partial striptease to try to seduce a
"I felt like I was watching a porno," the viewer complained.
Actress Jeanne Cooper, who joined the serial's cast as Katherine Chancellor
shortly after its debut, agrees a cold shower is in order.
"We went into an area we had no business going into," she says. "All of
daytime tried that and they got hit right in the head by fans. They don't
want it; that's not the medium of daytime."
What loyal viewers want is romance, suggests Lucy Johnson, vice president
in charge of daytime programming for CBS for nearly a decade. "They're
not looking for sex. That's a male fantasy, not a female fantasy."
But she considers the recent "robustness" a small blip in the show's
otherwise sterling history. "It remains as fresh today as it was 25 years
ago. It still hits all the hot buttons of good drama, good soap
opera. ... I don't think those elements ever change in what the
audience craves," she says.
"Y&R" has stepped up the pace a bit with more and shorter scenes and story
lines more quickly resolved. But Bill Bell, who cut his teeth 43 years ago
with soap opera guru-writer Irna Phillips on "Guiding Light," says his show
remains true to the genre.
"The secret is to involve viewers emotionally so that they're back day
after day. We have a commitment to story, to characters and to our
audience," he says.
The opinions in these articles are those of the writer and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of The TV MegaSite or its other volunteers.
Back to the Main Y&R Articles
Back to the Main Y&R
Page updated 7/6/12