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The Young and the Restless

The Young and the Restless (commonly abbreviated to Y&R) is an American soap opera that takes place in Genoa City, Wisconsin (named after a vacation spot that series creators William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell visited annually). It first debuted on the CBS television network on March 26, 1973, replacing Where the Heart Is and Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Y&R has aired over eight thousand episodes.

Since late 1988, the show has been the highest-rated serial in the daytime ratings. The Young and the Restless has seen the ratings decline steadily since it first ranked #1. From 1988 to 2005, the show has lost more than 25% of its audience, from eight million viewers to fewer than six million. It should also be noted that all soaps have seen a similar decline in ratings.

Production and writing
The key to the show winning the ratings week after week is due in part to the tight-knit writing and production staff. For the most part, the writers and producers of the show have stayed unchanged since the 1980s, with the only high-profile departure being William J. Bell himself, who retired from writing the program in 1998 after twenty-five years -- although Bell stayed closely involved with the series, serving as executive producer and story consultant until his death in 2005.

The writers, in turn, have involved the same fan favorite characters (with few exceptions) in the storylines du jour. The writers of the show found their niche in the stories surrounding the Newman Enterprises and Jabot Cosmetics conglomerates, and focused on the problems in the relationships stemming from the business deals and love lives of its principal members. The show was twice nominated for WGA Award for best written daytime serial and won it once, in 2003.

The Young and the Restless stood out from other soaps on the air for its brightness, both literal and figurative. Soap operas at the time tended to be comparatively darkly-lit and lugubrious in tone. The Young and the Restless infused light, humor and youth into the genre. In its early years, The Young and the Restless centered around the Foster and Brooks families. William and Elizabeth Foster had three children: Snapper, Greg, and Jill. Stuart and Jennifer Brooks had four daughters: Leslie, Chris, Peggy, and Lauralee (nicknamed Lorie and played by Jaime Lyn Bauer; her father would turn out to be Elizabeth Foster's brother, Bruce Henderson). At the core of the show was a class struggle: the Brooks family was rich while the Fosters were poor. The young cast was derided by some soap fans, who mocked the show by calling it "The Young and the Chestless". Leslie and Lorie fought over first Brad Eliot and then Lance Prentiss, a triangle stretched into four when Lance's sea captain brother Lucas arrived.

One of Y&R's first and longest-lasting storylines involved the rivalry between Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and Jill Foster (then Brenda Dickson). In 1973 Jill went to work as Kay's personal secretary to help her struggling family pay the bills. Kay was a boozy matron trapped in a loveless marriage to Phillip Chancellor (Donnelly Rhodes). Jill and Phillip fell in love but when Phillip and Kay were on their way to get a divorce, Kay crashed the car (with decades of speculation on whether she did so intentionally). Phillip, on his deathbed, married Jill and bequeathed her and their child Phillip III his fortune, but Kay successfully contested his decision. An embittered Jill became a vixen and the two ladies fought over beautician Derek Thurston. Jill then married tycoon John Abbott (Jerry Douglas) while Kay went through groundbreaking stories about alcoholism and facelifts. Years later Jill, after her 2 marriages to John were over and her son Phillip was dead from a car crash, went back to court and the judge declared she owned half of the Chancellor mansion. Jill and Kay fought over the new arrangement as well as Jill's son Billy dating Kay's granddaughter Mackenzie. In 2003 Jill discovered that Katherine was her birth mother, and told Billy and Mac moments before they consummated their relationship. In 2004 Jill's birth father Arthur (David Hedison) briefly visited, and mother and daughter fought over him while Kay again battled her drinking problem.

Although Lorie Brooks was initially little more than the bad girl who tormented pure sister Leslie, she became a lead in her own right as she battled her sister over custody of Leslie's son Brooks, and battled her psychotic mother-in-law Vanessa (who even killed herself just to frame Lorie for the crime). Lorie acted and reacted based on her neuroses and was as much a child as a woman, naughty as well as sympathetic, a template for many future Y&R female leads. Most of the Brooks and Foster families had been recast again and again by the early 80's, and when Bell decided to expand Y&R to an hour in 1980, many lead actors said they could not sustain themselves on an hour show. Bell told himself he would wait for one more major departure before making big changes. When Jaime Lyn Bauer quit in 1982 due to exhaustion, Bell took the opportunity to write out all of the Brooks and Fosters, save Jill. Gradually, the focus shifted from the Brooks and Foster families to the Williams, Newman and Abbott families and around their respective companies, Newman Enterprises and Jabot Cosmetics. Most of the Williams family have been phased out but the other two families remain. Y&R is one of the only shows in the history of daytime to eliminate their original core families and benefit from the result.

Around the same time Bell phased out the originals, Eric Braeden arrived as the sinister tycoon Victor Newman who was so menacing to his wife Julia (Meg Bennett) that he locked her boyfriend in a dungeon and forced him to watch Victor and Julia's bedroom via closed-circuit camera. Bell saw something in Braeden's performance and since the show had few strong male characters, elevated him to star status. Soon after, Victor went to a strip club and met brash yet innocent Nikki Reed. Nikki had gone through a number of second-tier stories (killing her rapist dad, getting an STD from Paul Williams, joining a cult) but as played by Melody Thomas Scott was a naughty antiheroine in the Lorie Brooks mold. She married Victor in a lavish 1984 wedding and their love-hate relationship suffered many divorces, affairs and remarriages involving everyone from Abbotts to blind Kansas farm women to gynecologists. After over a decade apart, they reunited in 1998 and have basically been together since.

The Y&R mid-program bumper, coinciding with the 2004 daytime campaign, The Look That's Got You Hooked. The eyes in this picture are those of Sharon Case.The Young and the Restless is also one of the few soaps to have successfully integrated a number of African American actors into its cast. In the mid-80's Y&R created a storyline which revolved around a young black man being made up in whiteface to bring down a mafia kingpin, but the characters were written out within a few years. The introduction of the Winters family and the Barber sisters in the early 1990s interacted fairly well with the established characters when given the dialogue and the situations to do so. The new characters were created after Generations earned critical acclaim for casting an entire African American family from the show's inception. Established hits like The Young and the Restless were criticized as the show had a low number of minorities (the Barber sisters, for example, were tied to one of the two black characters on the show at the time: the Abbott maid, Mamie Johnson, played by Margeurite Ray, then Veronica Redd. The other character, Nathan Hastings, was married off to Barber sister Olivia (Tonya Lee Williams) before dying in a hit and run in 1996).

Critics of Y&R continued to deride the show even after its integration, noting that, most of the time, the core black characters largely interacted with themselves only. In the case of Winters siblings Neil (Kristoff St. John) and Malcolm (Shemar Moore), and Barber sisters Olivia and Drucilla (Victoria Rowell), they were shown to usually just swap each other's partners when a "shake-up" was needed in the romantic scheme of the story, leading to a seemingly neverending love quadrangle between the four characters that gained the nickname "Four Square" from fans and critics alike. Later actions have proven that this choice was due to the supposition that it was ostensibly "too controversial" to have an interracial pairing. Indeed, a pairing in the late 1990s between Neil Winters and Victoria Newman was axed by CBS executives, who were rumored to have received many angry phone calls and letters by viewers in the South. In 2004, a love affair between web designer Phyllis Abbott (Michelle Stafford) and chemist Damon Porter (Keith Hamilton Cobb) was prominently featured, despite concerns that the interracial pairing would be scrapped just like the one that was written before.

Unlike other soaps in the 80's or 90's, Y&R avoided preachy social issues. When they did touch on such issues as abortion or the homeless crisis or AIDS, it was only as a plot device with a few facts and statistics thrown in for effect. For instance, when Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) aborted Victor's child in the 80's, any viewers or scholars who may have looked for a serious story on the pros and cons of abortion would have been disappointed. Ashley only aborted her baby because her lover Victor's wife, Nikki, was then-terminally ill, and Ashley did not want to cause her pain. After learning of her abortion, Victor ripped her to shreds, causing a devastated Ashley to lose her mind and wind up in an insane asylum (in true soap fashion, she married her psychiatrist).

One social issue which was too hot for Y&R was homosexuality. In the mid-70's, lonely society matron Kay Chancellor befriended an overweight, unhappy housewife named Joann Curtis. Kay moved Joann into her home and helped her get a better self-image. Soon, Kay's son Brock wondered about all the time the ladies were spending together, as Kay planned a special vacation to Hawaii for herself and Joann. The ratings dropped and outraged fan letters poured in. Bell quickly dropped the relationship, wrote out Joann, and the show stabilized.

A relatively controversial fixture on the show for several decades was Bell's daughter, Lauralee. Lauralee debuted in 1983 in a bit part as photographer Joe Blair's teenage cousin Cricket. As Lauralee grew up, Christine became more and more prominent, to the point where 1988 storylines had 4 different men madly in love with her. Longtime fan favorite Terry Lester (Jack Abbott) left the show in 1989 and blamed her partly, claiming that the excessive airtime given to Cricket drowned out the other performers. Christine married rock star Danny (Michael Damian) then private eye Paul Williams (Doug Davidson), became an attorney and asked people to refer to her as "Chris", but remained a somewhat saccharine central heroine. At one point in 1996 the show hinted at a romance between Christine and the much older Victor Newman - negative viewer reaction killed the story. Later Christine became involved with Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc), who had stalked her years earlier. This led to a controversial storyline where Paul, angry at his ex-wife's new love, raped Christine - many fans could not believe heroic Paul would ever do such a thing, and were upset by scenes which said that the two had simply had "rough sex" that Christine could not admit she wanted. Christine and Paul got back together but eventually split for good. By 2003 or so, Lauralee Bell's marriage and children, as well as a successful clothing store, diminished her onscreen airtime and paved the way for other characters. In early 2005 she announced her move from contract to recurring status.

While heavy recasting is considered to have doomed some series such as Ryan's Hope and Love is a Many Splendored Thing, many would agree that Y&R's casting choices were some of the best in the genre. Most important characters were played by the same actor for decades; if they left the show, the characters left with them. When leads were recast, the replacements were often popular and remade the character in their own image, such as Peter Bergman's Jack Abbott, Susan Walters' Diane Jenkins, Jess Walton's Jill Foster Abbott or Judith Chapman's Gloria Abbott. When Y&R did make the occasional casting blunder, such as the brief 1997 replacement for Heather Tom's Victoria Newman, the mistake was quickly rectified (Tom left the show again in 2003 and in 2005, the show found former All My Children star Amelia Heinle, who was an instant hit in the role). The recent recast of Mackenzie Browning from Ashley Bashioum to Rachel Kimsey didn't go over well with fans, yet ratings stayed flat. Kimsey is still in the role, and is showing no signs of leaving the show in the near future.

Along with every other daytime soap, Y&R has suffered audience erosion, with particularly noticeable losses from 2001 to the present day. The show, in response to the bleeding, took some power away from longtime backstage brass like Edward Scott and Kay Alden, instead relying on headwriter Jack Smith. Another highly publicized move was the rehiring of Shemar Moore (Malcolm Winters) for a limited run. Moore was extremely popular with African-American viewers, and the show lost a health chunk of that demographic upon his 2001 departure. Although fans were happy to see him return, Malcolm's new storyline garnered mixed reviews at best, and the ratings barely nudged. In another high-profile storyline, Nick and Sharon's young daughter Cassie (Camryn Grimes), beloved by fans, was killed off. In spite of rave reviews from the soap press, the ratings stayed flat.

The Bells created The Bold and the Beautiful in 1987, and in 1992, the mega-popular Y&R villainess Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown) crossed over to B&B's Los Angeles setting. Bill Bell felt the character had committed too many crimes for her to remain in Genoa City, so she faked her death and moved to LA. She married Eric Forrester (John McCook, who was the first Lance Prentiss) and continually worried her identity would be exposed by her archnemesis Lauren Fenmore (Tracey E. Bregman), whose department store chain kept her in close contact with the Forresters. Lauren's dying husband, Scott Grainger (Peter Barton) also appeared on B&B long enough to forgive Sheila for her misdeeds. The crossovers were extremely successful and gained B&B over a million viewers. Lauren moved permanently to B&B in 1995 and stayed on the show off and on until 2000, when she again fit into the Genoa City canvas.

In 1995 Jeanne Cooper, Heather Tom, Melody Thomas Scott, J. Eddie Peck, Kristoff St. John, Eric Braeden, and Doug Davidson guested as themselves on primetime drama Diagnosis Murder. In the episode, Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) won a small role on the set of Y&R, then helped solve a murder. As Rowell also appeared on Y&R (as Drucilla), there were a number of mistaken identity jokes, culminating in a scene where Amanda "met" Rowell.

In 1997, the family on the sitcom The Nanny traveled to Los Angeles, and met various cast members, including Melody Thomas Scott, Peter Bergman and Joshua Morrow, as well as B&B's Hunter Tylo, who played themselves. Eric Braeden also appeared in a guest role as a theatre critic in The Nanny's first season.

In 1999, Victor met man-hungry exec Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang) in LA and helped her make Ridge Forrester (Ronn Moss) jealous. In return, Brooke appeared on Y&R to pitch her "Brooke's Bedroom" lingerie line to Jack Abbott.

In 2001, select cast members of the series crossed over to The King of Queens. In an episode of the Kevin James sitcom, Doug Heffernan (James) dreams about the series. His wife Carrie (Leah Remini) dumps Doug for Jack Abbott, and Arthur Spooner (Jerry Stiller) searches for a secret antiaging cream that Nikki Newman has in her possession.

In 2005, Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc) crossed over to As the World Turns to outcome the wrath of Julia Larrabee's murder in the courtroom trial.

The theme song
Main article: Nadia's Theme

The theme song, "Nadia's Theme", has become iconic; save for a three-year stint in the early 2000s, the melody has remained unchanged. The melody, written by Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr., originated as a piece of incidental music for the 1971 theatrical film Bless the Beasts and the Children called "Cotton's Dream". Botkin later adapted this piece of music as the theme to The Young and the Restless. It would later be used as accompanying music during Nadia Comaneci's floor exercises at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and given the alternate title "Nadia's Theme". It was sampled in Mary J. Blige's song No More Drama. In the tune, Blige's persona describes herself as "young and restless".

The opening credits

The Young and the Restless logo, seen from 1984 to 1999.The opening sequence has also become well-known. For many years, the opening showcased the characters, drawn by an artist, on a white background. Over time, the drawings were replaced with live-action shots of the characters, still on a white background. The opening traditionally ended with an interlocking Y and R painted on the white canvas in a sweeping brush motion. The logo (and in the earlier years, the drawings) were done by artist Sandy Dvore.

Beginning in 1999, in an unprecedented move for a main title sequence of a daytime soap opera, the names of the principal cast members (for that day's particular episode) were mentioned (whereas previously the main title only showed the cast members' faces). For the most part, the mentality of the soap opera producers in general is to keep a certain image of a soap opera character or actor constant in order to keep good publicity, and thus the real names of the actors, shown next to their pictures, were long discouraged, as it interfered with the "escapist" tone of the genre. This did not deter the show's producers and in early 2003 the opening credits were given a complete makeover, now featuring black-and-white out-takes from the series with the actors' names in lower case in red at either the top or bottom of the screen. In 2004, Y&R's sister show The Bold and the Beautiful began airing the performer's names on the opening credits, the only soap besides Y&R to do so.

View Y&R's current opening here:


Current cast members
U.S. soap operas
Currently on the air:
All My Children
As the World Turns
The Bold and the Beautiful
Days of our Lives
General Hospital
Guiding Light
One Life to Live
The Young and the Restless
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Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott) (#2) (1989-)
Roscoe Born (Tom Fisher) (2005-)
Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) (1980-)
Kimberlin Brown (Sheila Carter) (1990-1993; 2005-)
Bryton (Devon Hamilton) (2004-)
Sharon Case (Sharon Collins Newman) (1994-)
Judith Chapman (Gloria Fisher Abbott) (#2) (2005-)
Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) Original Cast Member (1973-)
Doug Davidson (Paul Williams) (1978-)
Eileen Davidson (Ashley Abbott Carlton) (#1) (1982-1988; 1999-)
Don Diamont (Brad Carlton) (1985-1996; 1998-)
Jerry Douglas (John Abbott) (1982-)
Michael Graziadei (Daniel Romalotti) (2004-)
Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman) (#2) (2005-)
Rachel Kimsey (Mackenzie Browning) (#3) (2005-)
Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin, esq.) (1991-1993; 1997-)
Kate Linder (Esther Valentine) (1985-)
Thad Luckinbill (J.T. Hellstrom) (2002-)
Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman) (1994-)
Blair Redford (Scott "Scotty" Grainger, Jr.) (2005-)
Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher) (2003-)
Victoria Rowell (Drucilla Barber Winters) (1990-1998; 2000; 2002-)
Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Reed Newman) (#2) (1979-)
Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) (1991-)
Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers) (#1) (1994-1997; 2000-)
Jess Walton (Jill Foster Abbott) (#4) (1987-)
Patty Weaver (Gina Roma) (1982-)
Lauren Woodland (Brittany Hodges) (2000-)

Recurring cast members
Sherman Augustus (Detective Hank Weber)
Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair)
Laura Bryan Birn (Lynne Bassett)
Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren Fenmore)
Darcy Rose Byrnes (Abby Carlton)
Greg Calabrese (Trevor)
John Castellanos (John Silva)
Carolyn Conwell (Mary Williams)
Chase Ellison (Noah Newman)
David "Shark" Fralick (Larry Warton)
Cooper and Oliver Guynes (Kyle Jenkins)
Karen Hensel (Doris Collins)
Mitzi Kapture-Donahue (Anita Hodges)
Beau Kazer (Brock Reynolds)
Chene Lawson (Yolanda Hamilton)
Beth Maitland (Traci Abbott Connolly)
Allen Maldonado (Jamal)
John H. Martin (Frederick Hodges)
Anthony Pena (Miguel Rodriguez)
Veronica Redd (Mamie Johnson)
Asia Ray Smith (Sierra Hoffman)
Tonya Lee Williams (Dr. Olivia B. Winters, MD)

Coming and going cast members
Tamara Clatterbuck (Alice Johnson) (temp. return August 18)
Christel Khalil (Lily Winters) (2002 until 9/2/2005)
Shemar Moore (Malcolm Winters) (recurring until fall 2005)
Camryn Grimes (Cassie Newman) (guest stars August 19)

Deceased Cast Members
Candice Daly (Veronica Martin Landers aka. Sarah Lindsey), 2004
Terry Lester (Jack Abbott) (#1), 2003


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