For more than thirty four years The Young and the Restless
soap opera has been a success on TV. What is interesting is
that it’s even highly attractive to college education and career
women. Camille Paglia, a professor of Art and author, confessed
that she has been watching it for 20 years plus. What is so
attractive about this show and why has it won so many
daytime Emmy awards ( at least seven)?
The dramas each day of course include romance but also lots
of family, business and corporate situations. Recently on a
forum I read that some women will work all day at their high
tech jobs and then at night replay the show while they iron
clothing for next day of work.
They have their share of return from the dead story lines,
but generally there is a level of realism in the themes
presented touching on daily concerns such as infidelity,
financial problems, jealousy, death of a family member,
promotion anxiety and very relatable concerns. This makes
“The Young and the Restless” not just another “rich and
famous type of show” that is out of the league of many viewers.
Nonetheless, there is the question of why people want to
watch a show that has so many crisis and unhappy situations
that unfold. When Nick and Sharon’s daughter Cassie died
last year the forums were buzzing about their grief over
this. Is it cathartic to view something similar to what we
may experience in our own lives?
Are we looking to see the way others cope and adjust to
difficult situations in order to gain coping skills
ourselves? The tragedies on a soap opera aren’t real yet we
cry despite that. We know these characters are not harmed
and may even watch them on talk shows in the morning when
they are interviewed! We know these different circumstances
haven’t really happened, yet they are so gripping to watch.
One recent incident that was popular at The Young and the
Restless was when Sheila kidnapped the babies of Phyllis and
her friend Lauren. These shows had high ratings (and it was a
bit confusing since Sheila had plastic surgery to look exactly
like Phyllis)! So many people fear having their kids kidnapped.
Also people are afraid of someone irrational and Sheila was the
best example of this as she shifted in and out of paranoia, lucidity
and jealousy. We have a deep fascination we have with someone
who is highly intelligent but has an obsessive side where
they redirect all that intelligence in an unhealthy way.
Another topic that was popular was the competition between
Nikki Newman and Jack Abbot for the state senator seat. They
both had their own share of hidden dirt that became exposed
and viewers were drawn to this due to the fascination of
slander, competition and political dramas.
At one point Jack’s campaign team even hid a camera in Nikki’s
conference room and recorded her kiss with her campaign
manager. Is there a question most of us have about whether
people have secrets and what are they? Are people always
acting with ulterior motives? Is there any honesty left in
One other aspect of the Young and the Restless that touches
contemporary audiences is the conflict between loving two
people romantically at the same time. This has been an
eternal theme throughout literature and what is refreshing
in the show is the dialog the characters have as they try
to clarify these matters. Though not as philosophical as
“Sex in the City”, there are reflections the characters
have on timeless themes including money versus love,
blackmail, lying to one’s spouse, the trials of taking care
of someone with an illness and parenting questions.
By having realistic daily scenarios combined with lots of
passion and corporate dramas with intelligent dialogs,
The Young and the Restless TV show works for many viewers as
a supplement to their day providing ideas for reflection,
entertainment and vicarious living.