What is “The Young and the Restless”?

The American soap opera “The Young and the Restless” (“Y&R”) was created by Lee Phillip Bell and William J. Bell for CBS, and is set in the fictional Genoa City, Wisconsin. The show premiered in March 1973 with half-hour episodes aired five times a week, switching over to one-hour episodes seven years later. From 2006 to 2013, previous episodes were aired on SOAPnet.

“Y&R”, which is broadcast around the world, started off with the working class Foster family and the wealthy Brooks clan. Departures and recasts in the early 1980s led to all original characters being written out, except Jill Foster Abbott. The rest of the Fosters and Brooks were replaced by new families, namely the Williamses and the Abbotts. Other additions over the years include the Baldwin-Fishers, Barber-Winters, and Newmans.

The longest storyline on ”Y&R” to date has been the forty-year feud between Katherine Chancellor and Jill Abbott, which is the longest rivalry ever depicted in an American soap opera. “Y&R” has won many prestigious awards, amongst them over ten Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series. For over 32 years, it’s boasted the title of the highest-rated daytime drama on US television, and broke records by spending over 1,300 weeks at the top of the weekly Nielsen ratings.

Over the years, many actors have crossed over between “Y&R” and its sister series, “The Bold and the Beautiful” (“B&B”). Thanks to positive ratings, CBS has renewed the series for another season in 2023-‘24.

“Y&R” was created to compete with the ABC soap operas “One Life to Live”, “All My Children”, and “General Hospital”. The show’s working title was “The Innocent Years!”, but the name was later changed to reflect the general mood of the early seventies. Its fictional setting is based on the real Genoa City, which is located between the Bell brothers’ former home in Chicago and their vacation spot on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.

Characters

From the beginning, “Y&R” set itself apart from other soap operas by assembling young and mostly unknown actors but with glamorous profiles. The chemistry between actors was also an important part of the casting process, as the show’s storylines focused on its younger characters, their sexuality, and love stories with fantastical elements – some such early storylines included Snapper Foster and Chris Brooks’ romance, the love triangle between Leslie and Lorie Brooks and Brad Elliot, and the ill-fated love story between Jill Foster and the millionaire Phillip Chancellor II. Snapper Foster is considered by many to be one of the first soap opera characters to explore his sexuality, and boundaries were also pushed with explicit themes that included incest, impotence, pre-marital intercourse, and even rape.

The first two rape storylines on “Y&R”, which aired in 1973 and 1976, were highly controversial due to the analytic and introspective matter in which they were addressed. Social issues such as cancer, bulimia, alcoholism, and mastectomies were also explored, and Katherine Chancellor had a couple of lesbian storylines, including a brief relationship with Joann Curtis.

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With the switch from thirty to sixty-minute episodes in 1980, many cast members from the original families left the show due to clauses in their contracts, and many characters were recast until Jaime Lyn Bauer, who depicted Lorie Brooks, left the show. The show’s creators then replaced the original families, and built new families around the characters of Paul Williams and Jack Abbott, who had been relatively insignificant to “Y&R” until then. Bit by bit, Abbott and Williams family members were introduced to the series, and all the Brooks and Fosters were phased out, except Jill.

Victor Newman, played by Eric Braeden, is another minor character who was also introduced to the show in the 1980s, and became one of its most unlikely stars. Victor started off as an unfaithful and despicable wife abuser, and was originally intended to be killed off after a few months.

However, William Bell rewrote his story to save the character, saying: “When I saw Eric Braden’s first performance, I knew immediately that I didn’t want to lose this man. He was exactly what the show needed. Not the hateful man we saw on-screen, but the man he could and would become.” Eric was consequently put on contract, and his character’s romance with Nikki Reed would become an important storyline.

The 1990s brought yet more core characters, with the Winters and Barber families. In 1990, Drucilla Barber (played by Victoria Rowell) and Olivia Winters (played by Tonya Williams) were introduced as the nieces of Mamie Johnson, the Abbott’s maid. Their love interests, Malcolm and Neil Winters (played by Shemar Moore and Kristoff St. John) were introduced shortly afterwards, and helped flesh out Drucilla and Olivia’s storylines. As the new core families were black, “Y&R” became popular amongst new viewers, and reached a wider audience, partly in thanks to the Bell brothers shunning typical African-American stereotypes and character tropes.

Storylines

Genoa City has been home to many shocking and outright incredulous storylines, with plot twists that always leave viewers coming back for more. As the co-creator William J. Bell wished to center the show around the class conflict between the Brooks and the Fosters, the differences between the two families were evident from the very beginning.

Stuart Brooks, a newspaper publisher, had four daughters with his socialite wife Jennifer: Lauralee, an author; Leslie, a pianist; Christabel, a journalist; and Peggy, a college student. On the other hand, Elizabeth Foster was a factory worker and single mother, who was abandoned by her husband and struggling to raise three children: medical student Snapper; law student Greg, and Jill, a beautician.

The love triangle between Christabel, Snapper, and a waitress named Sally McGuire was the show’s first major storyline. Although Christabel and Snapper were a couple, Snapper began seeing Sally when Christabel refused to have sex before marriage. Sally deliberately became pregnant after throwing out her birth control pills, while a blissfully unaware Snapper proposed to Christabel. Christabel soon became pregnant too, but miscarried when she and Snapper discovered that he was the father of Sally’s child. Sally would later move out of Genoa City, helping pave the way for Christabel and Snapper’s long-awaited reconciliation.

Although sisters Leslie and Lauralee were polar opposites, they shared the same taste in men, and would be enmeshed in two love triangles. They first fought over Brad Eliot, then things became more complicated when both fell in love with Lance Prentiss and his brother Lucas. Lauralee was the black sheep of the family, who loved to make her more innocent sister’s life impossible; she would later battle Leslie for custody of her son Brooks, and be framed for the death of her psychotic mother-in-law Vanessa.

We’re going back to 1973 today on Y&R. 👏 Don’t miss the very first (and second) episodes of The Young and the Restless…

Posted by The Young and the Restless on Monday, July 20, 2020

Jill Foster Abbott and Katherine Chancellor’s forty-year-long rivalry kept viewers on tenterhooks for decades. Jill was a young manicurist and aspiring model, whereas Katherine was a moneyed socialite who hired the former to work for her as an assistant. Jill fell in love with Katherine’s husband, Phillip Chancellor II; in 1976, he obtained a divorce in the Dominican Republic, and was picked up at the airport by Katherine, who then drove their car off a cliff to try to kill them both.

Phillip married Jill on his deathbed and signed his fortune over to her and their love child. Katherine offered Jill seven figures for her baby, and then bribed a judge to declare that the marriage between Jill and Phillip was illegal, as she had been drunk when signing divorce papers. Jill and her son were left without an inheritance, and he was given the name of Phillip Foster instead of Phillip Chancellor II. This led to the intense feud between the two women, who blamed each other for Phillip II’s death.

In the late 1970s, Jill and Katherine both fell for the beautician Derek Thurston. In 1982, Jill married the tycoon John Abbott, but Katherine broke their marriage up a few years later by showing him photos of Jill’s one-night-stand with John’s son Jack. The images affected John so much that he suffered a stroke, and divorced Jill. In the late 1980s, both women fought for custody of Phillip Foster, and Katherine was awarded temporary custody but didn’t have the right to adopt. She later made arrangements to legally change his name to Phillip Chancellor III.

After Phillip III died in a car crash in the 1990s, and Jill’s marriage to John ended, she and Katherine were embroiled in yet another legal battle, when documents belonging to Phillip II were found in the attic of his mansion. Jill and Katherine fought bitterly when the judge declared that Jill owned half of the Chancellor estate; at the time, Jill’s son Billy was dating Katherine’s granddaughter Mackenzie, further complicating matters.

The vendetta between Jill and Katherine took an unforeseen turn in 2003, when Jill’s mother Liz informed her daughter that she was adopted. After a thorough investigation, Katherine was revealed to be Jill’s biological mother. Billy and Mackenzie discovered the truth on their wedding night and annulled their marriage, having found out that they were biological first cousins, whereas Jill and Katherine’s relationship changed from that of bitter love rivals to mother and daughter.

In 2003, self-made businessman Victor Newman confronted his dying father, Albert Miller, who was dying in a hospice in Toronto. Albert had previously abandoned his family and forced Victor’s mother to leave their son at an orphanage. The tension was palpable when Albert, a multi-millionaire, offered his long-lost son money to go away. Victor then replied with the iconic line: “I’m no longer Christian Miller. I’m Victor Newman… the Victor Newman.”

Mishael Morgan

Mishael Morgan is an actress known for playing Amanda Sinclair and Hilary Curtis in “Y&R”. In the show, Amanda is a lawyer who was later revealed to be Hilary’s twin sister. Mishael’s temporary exit from the show due to an injury was announced in April 2021 – Karla Mosley, who plays Maya Avant in “B&B”, stepped in as Amanda until Morgan recovered.

In September 2022, Mishael shocked fans of “Y&R”, by announcing that she wouldn’t be appearing in the show so much. She took the decision in December 2021, explaining: “I just felt like at this point in my life and this point in my career, I wanted to mix things up a little bit.” Although Amanda’s future is uncertain, the show’s producers have made it clear that Mishael will always be welcome as a recurring character.

Amanda was hired by Chance Chancellor to contest Katherine Chancellor’s will. Devon Hamilton was shocked to see that she was identical to his deceased wife Hilary; the glamorous lawyer became something of an outcast in Genoa City due to her resemblance to Hilary, and Devon’s girlfriend Elena Dawson went so far as to lead a smear campaign against Amanda, due to the pain she was causing her boyfriend.

In time, the people of Genoa City began accepting Amanda, although she still had a few enemies. She began frequenting a bar named the Empty Glass, where she would meet Billy Abbott, who noticed Amanda thanks to her resemblance to Hilary, and rescued her when a drunk patron began hassling her. The pair struck up a friendship, with Billy pouring his heart out to Amanda about personal matters, including his relationship woes. When he broke up with his girlfriend, Victoria, he kissed Amanda, but their romance never developed further, and they simply remained firm friends.

Just when Amanda was settling into her new life, her abusive ex-husband Ripley Turner appeared after tracking her down. Amanda had scrubbed all her online information so that Ripley couldn’t find her, but her efforts were in vain, as Ripley showed up at a party she was attending and stabbed Victoria – who was wearing the same dress as Amanda – whom he thought she was his ex-wife.

This led to Amanda feeling guilty and paranoid. Eventually, Ripley was apprehended, and Amanda testified against him to ensure he served a lengthy prison sentence. Since then, Amanda has had many of her own storylines, so it’ll be interesting to see how writers of “Y&R” further develop her character.

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