Michael Muhney’s firing: People; let’s get practical!

· Popular culture

The firing of Michael Muhney at The Young and the Restless, a daytime soap opera, is continuing to receive a good deal of media attention. The latest trend being covered is that some of the show’s actors are speaking out and basically saying that the show has a right to fire whomever they want as they feel necessary.


I totally agree. From a moral standpoint, I don’t think what Muhney allegedly did is that big of a deal. So he groped someone. As I’ve said before, boys will be boys. The victim herself, if the situation really occurred, as it easily may have, has a right to do whatever she feels is right to achieve closure and resolve the matter in a way that helps her be comfortable.


But let’s talk about the show runners themselves. Their first priority has to be the human resources perspective. They cannot keep an actor if he is a lawsuit waiting to happen. They cannot keep him employed just because fans have an entitlement complex. Daytime fans are legendary for being silly when it comes to their favourite (or least favourite) actors. Show runners cannot always accommodate the fans. There is no doubt that there has been declining quality for years on soap operas shown in the daytime; show runners have insulted the audience’s intelligence for years. However, many fans go too far in the opposite direction. It is ridiculous to expect Jill Farren Phelps or the other powers that be to rehire Muhney just because people like his acting, to the exclusion of all other considerations. These people have legal, political and other considerations to take into account, not just the wishes of the masses.


If Muhney did what he is accused of, he needs to be helped in addition to being fired. No one should judge another human being. IF he did what he is accused of doing, then it is a cry for help. I remember reading that he was bullied as a child. Many people who grow up being abused become abusers themselves. Muhney, again IF he harassed anyone, deserves to be punished. But he should also be accepted because no one becomes who they are without help from other people. He should ask himself, also, why he felt the need to grope someone, if indeed he did so. Particularly if the victim was not interested, and told him that, what made him feel the compulsion to repeat the bad behaviour? He must have gotten something psychologically fulfilling from it. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? We are motivated by the need that currently goes unfulfilled.


I have no idea what Muhney’s needs are, obviously. I’ve never met the man and it would be presumptuous of me in the extreme to analyze his behaviour. However, speaking generally, for an actor to repeatedly grope an uninterested costar is treading on dangerous ground and any actor who does this must know the risk he is taking. Maybe an actor who does this wants to be discovered, because he wants to be punished as a bully. Maybe that answers a psychic need from his childhood. Who knows? My point mainly is twofold: Show runners have to do what is necessary to protect themselves from litigation, without always worrying about what fans think, and we should not judge actors for their problems. Actors are artists, and they need special consideration. No one, outside of the perpetrator and victim (if the abuse occurred in reality) know the full situation. But speaking generally again, people are far too quick to judge.


Let’s have some compassion for everyone involved, and at the same time be practical and realistic about what it takes to run a show in today’s political climate. I hope that everyone involved gets the help that they need to heal, and to make a better life for themselves. And I hope the show itself continues for many years. With the additional proviso that I hope the showrunners stop insulting viewers’ intelligence. 

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