Last week, the clouds finally parted in Genoa City after raining down tedious plots and hackneyed storytelling for almost two years. This period was the latest instance of Charles Pratt, Jr., who writes brilliant primetime shows, using a head writer position to ravage the beloved and number-one-rated, “The Young and the Restless.”
Gray Skies Clear Up as a Y&R Vet Returns Home
On Wednesday the 7th, Sally Sussman, Y&R’s new head writer, debuted her first material since returning to the show after a long-term absence. Sussman has a history of gifted, deft writing at several soaps, including Y&R.
The sun literally shone on Billy and Victoria as they squinted lovingly at each other in the park and bonded (I hear wedding bells!). It shone through the windows of the beautiful scenes of the Abbott family breakfast. It even filled the Newman cottage with the glow of hope, a central theme of all daytime soaps and rarely seen during Pratt Jr.’s tenure. Sharon and Dylan agonized over spending the holidays without Christian, but the bright light filling the cottage reminded us that all is never lost in daytime—and in life.
Wednesday’s episode flowed, after two years of choppy, disorienting storytelling, in which too much happened off-screen that we then heard about later in dialogue. Last week, we got to see seamless movement from scene to scene, and each line of dialogue came organically from the previous one. Somehow, even the first scene, though starkly different from Pratt Jr.’s work, flowed from the previous day’s episode.
Family Traditions, a Voice of Reason, and Classic Soap Themes
Perhaps this was because Sussman used tradition and a much-needed, classic voice-of-reason character to anchor the episode. First we had the Abbot family breakfast, a ritual that highlighted one of the show’s families, the core of any soap. But there was a twist to the tradition, which was Billy’s contentious appearance at the door halfway through it. Luckily, Tracy’s grounding presence was there to keep Jack, in particular, focused on Abbott togetherness. Tracy’s purpose on the episode harkens back to the days when soaps utilized archetypal, moral compass characters. Past examples include: Ruth Martin on “All My Children,” Aunt Ruby from “General Hospital,” Charita Bauer from “Guiding Light,” and Nancy Hughes on “As the World Turns.”
The themes of the episode—love, loss, parenthood, and forgiveness—are ones that have drawn fans to soap operas for decades. Charles Pratt, Jr.’s work in the past two years either ignored these themes or abused them, as in the year-long, torturous wait fans endured for the Christian/Sully baby reveal. Sussman instead showed us Sharon remembering her beloved son, Christian, as she brought out Christmas decorations. We saw, Billy and Victoria support each other, because they are a family that seems destined to be. Finally, Nick forgave Nikki for “choosing” Dylan in the custody fight over Christian.
We say thank you to Sally Sussman for resuscitating our beloved Y&R. We look forward to seeing how she and her writing team fully revive this show from its relegation to tedious soap status to its former classic soap glory with their gifted storytelling.
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