The soap opera Young and the Restless is pretty good but is far more interesting behind the scenes. This coming week will see the work of the new executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and the new headwriter Josh Griffin. As always when there is a new regime in daytime, heads roll. It has already happened, with Genie Francis (Genevieve), Debbi Morgan (Harmony), and Marcy Rylan (Abby) all having been fired. There are no doubt more to come, including players like Julia Pace Mitchell (Sophia) moving to recurring.
But where it really gets interesting is the Twitter wars that are occurring between the actors. Michael Muhney and Sharon Case are on side of one of the wars, with Eric Braeden fighting them all the way. Case has retweeted many tweets from her fans that have pointed out how disgusting it is that she has been paired with Braeden’s character, Victor, romantically. Not only is he much older than she, but they have had a father/daughter-type relationship over the past many years on the show. Case, however, has not said anything personal about Eric Braeden specifically. However, Braeden took offense to what Case was saying about the inappropriateness of the match. There are rumours that the actor sometimes gets confused that he’s not actually the character! Even if that is an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Braeden is out of line, in my opinion, for saying that Muhney was arrogant for criticizing the storyline where Victor supposedly died. As Muhney pointed out, no one believes he was dead so why bother? Muhney was criticizing the writing, not the actor, and not even the character of Victor Newman.
The commonality between Muhney and Case is that they both made comments, either directly or indirectly, that they were not happy with some aspect of the writing. Braeden’s taking offense to their comments (he spoke of new cast members being arrogant) says more about him than it does about them. One gets the impression that Braeden, for one, has been a bit of a nightmare behind the scenes.
Some people say what’s going on over the Twitter feed is pure publicity stunt in reality. It’s hard to say, but I find it interesting that people would be willing to make themselves look foolish for the sake of ratings, even if such a thing were successful. However, think of reality shows. Think of the current kerfluffle between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. People are also saying that also is a publicity stunt, the recent argument they had which culminated in Minaj allegedly threatening to shoot Carey. Reality shows thrive on manufactured drama. Maybe the world of soap operas is taking a page out of the reality show book by getting people talking about what is going on behind the scenes. Who knows? But one thing is sure. The writing has changed hands for a reason on this soap opera. It is not nearly as good as the scripted or unscripted drama that is occurring on Twitter and behind the scenes at the show.
American Idol’s ratings are suffering. The Young and the Restless is still the highest-rated soap opera on daytime television, but the ratings have dipped substantially in recent years. Maybe what they could do is follow the actors around behind the scenes and turn it into a competitive reality show to see who the biggest pain is behind the scenes.
Maybe it is silly to make a comparison between what is happening in the Middle East with the Arab Spring, and a soap opera. However, I’d like to make one connection because I think it is apt. Social media has allowed people who never had power before, to speak out and have their voice heard. From my following Muhney on Twitter (he plays Adam on the Young and the Restless and does so superbly), I can tell that he speaks up for the underdog. That is what got him in a bit of trouble with Braeden because Muhney stuck up for Case. Muhney has made a habit of speaking out on issues that he deems important. An example of this is his criticism of how the Daytime Emmys is handled. Muhney is giving a voice to the many people who get tired of the same people winning, and are suspicious of the politics behind the scenes. Muhney should be celebrated for sacrificing short-term popularity for the sake of improving the genre to which he has already contributed a lot in only the past few years. Rather than being criticized by the old guard for having an opinion on important matters, he should be congratulated for caring. Daytime is a dying breed, and talented actors who speak out on issues that are designed to help daytime thrive, should be commended. The connection I make between what is going on in the Middle East and soap operas is that in both cases, the old guard is being replaced by innovative young thinkers who see the problems with the status quo and are fighting to improve matters. Twitter is just one of the social media engines that are propelling debates on certain issues. Soap operas are not as important as a country’s people fighting for rights. However, we should always encourage people who fight for rights, regardless of the individual circumstances. Maybe if the Young and the Restless does end some day, we can send Muhney to help fight for the cause of democracy in the Middle East. He may just solve the whole problem!