The Young and the Restless

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The Young and the Restless
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Network CBS
Executive Producers John F. Smith and David Shaughnessy
Head Writers John F. Smith and Kay Alden
Senior Cast Member Jeanne Cooper
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Premiere Date March 26, 1973
Runtime 60 minutes (30 minutes from 1973 to 1980)
Alternate Titles The Innocent Years (working title)
Les Feux de l'Amour (France)
Tunteita ja tuoksuja (Finland)
IMDb Page (

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. 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.

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 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. 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.

Missing image
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 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 (Tonya Lee Williams) 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. Currently, a love affair between web designer Phyllis Abbott (Michelle Stafford) and chemist Damon Porter (Keith Hamilton Cobb) has been 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 over the past 2 decades has been 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. By 2000, 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 or Jess Walton's Jill Foster 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 the show found former All My Children star Amelia Heinle).

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.


The Bells created The Bold and the Beautiful in 1987, and in 1992, the mega-popular Y&R villianess 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 1997, the family on the sitcom The Nanny traveled to Los Angeles, and met Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott, who played themselves.

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 another man, 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 and opening credits

The theme song has become iconic; save for a three-year stint in the early 2000s, the melody has remained unchanged. The theme music, composed by soap songwriter Barry DeVorzon, was not originally written for the series. It originated as a piece of incidental music for the 1971 theatrical film Bless the Beasts and the Children called "Cotton's Dream". DeVorzon 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".

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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. 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.

Longtime characters

Template:AmericanSoaps The following characters have been on Y&R for a number of years, and even though some of them are not on the show anymore, their previous presence in Genoa City is still felt on the show today.

The Newmans

  • Victor Newman (played by Eric Braeden) - wealthy, powerful and brooding industrialist.
  • Nikki Reed Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) - Victor's on-again off-again wife and one great, true love.
  • Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow) - Victor and Nikki's son, father of Noah and adoptive father of the late Cassie Newman.
  • Victoria Newman (formerly played by Heather Tom and Sarah Aldrich, currently played by Amelia Heinle) - Victor and Nikki's daughter
  • Ryan McNeil (played from 1991 to 2001 by Scott Reeves) - Victoria's "one true love". At the center of a love triangle between Victoria and Nina and later Victoria and Tricia (Sabryn Genet). Died after Tricia shot him during a psychotic episode at his wedding to Victoria.
  • Sharon Collins Newman (Sharon Case) - Nick's wife, mother of Cassie and Noah
  • Cassidy "Cassie" Newman (Camryn Grimes) - Sharon's illegitimate daughter with Frank Barritt whom Sharon gave up for adoption. Later reclaimed by Sharon and became a Newman after Sharon's husband Nick adopted her. Died of a brain infection caused by a car accident which was her fault, though nobody knows as of yet.

The Abbotts

  • John Abbott (Jerry Douglas) - Aging patriarch of the Abbott clan. Jabot co-executive.
  • Jack Abbott (formerly played by Terry Lester, currently played by Peter Bergman) - John's son with ex-wife, Dina. Victor's greatest rival and enemy, recently fired from Jabot.
  • Phyllis Summers (currently and originally played by Michelle Stafford, formerly played by Sandra Nelson) - Somewhat-reformed ex-wife of Jack Abbott; previously married to Danny Romalotti and mother of Daniel Romalotti Jr.
  • Ashley Abbott Carlton (currently played by Eileen Davidson, formerly played by Brenda Epperson and Shari Shattuck) - Jack's chemist sister, board member of Jabot, and one of Victor's ex-wives, the mother of his daughter Abby (born by sperm theft). Gave birth to a stillborn son, Robert, that left her unable to bear any more children.
  • Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) - a Jabot executive, Ashley's current husband - but they are separated. Father of Colleen Abbott and adoptive father of Abby Carlton, Ashley's daughter. Despises Victor Newman.
  • Jill Foster Abbott (formerly played by Brenda Dickson and Deborah Adair, currently played by Jess Walton) - Jack and Ashley's former stepmother. Raised to believe Liz Foster was her birth mother but was given up for adoption by Katherine Chancellor.
  • Billy Abbott (most notably played by David Tom) - John and Jill's only child, briefly married to his cousin Mackenzie Browning (they did not consummate their marriage).
  • Gloria Fisher Abbott (formerly played by Joan Van Ark, currently played by Judith Chapman) - Mother to Kevin (with Tom Fisher) and Michael (with Mr. Baldwin), and married to John. John and Gloria are currently estranged as she failed to tell him Michael and Kevin were her children.
  • Traci Abbott Connelly (Beth Maitland) - First married to Danny, then Brad, and later to Steve Connelly. Had a problem with weight as a teen and young adult. Mother of Colleen Abbott.

The Chancellors

  • Katherine Shepard Reynolds Chancellor Sterling (Jeanne Cooper) - Jill's longtime rival who turned out to be her long-lost mother.
  • Phillip Chancellor II (formerly played by John Considine, Donnelly Rhodes, Chris Hebert, and Jimmy Keegan) - Katherine's husband who had an affair with Jill and produced a love child. He substained fatal injuries in a car accident and married Jill at his deathbed.
  • Brock Reynolds (Beau Kayzer) - Katherine's long-lost son.
  • Mackenzie Browning (formerly played by Ashley Bashioum and Kelly Kruger, currently played by Rachel Kimsey) - Katherine's long-lost granddaughter, Brock's daughter.
  • Nina Webster Chancellor Kimble (played from 1986 to 2001 by Tricia Cast) - unwed teenage mother, was married to Phillip II's son Phillip III, who died in a drunk-driving accident. Best friends, later adversaries, and friends again with Christine. Mother of Phillip III's son, Phillip Chancellor IV.
  • Phillip Chancellor III (Thom Bierdz) - Love child of Jill and Phillip II. Died in a drunk-driving accident shortly after marrying Nina.

The Winters/Barbers

  • Malcolm Winters (Shemar Moore) - photographer for Newman Enterprises. Was presumed dead but came back two years after "disappearing" in Africa. Once slept with Dru while she was high on cold medication and in 2005 was discovered to be Lily's biological father.
  • Olivia Barber Hastings Winters (Tonya Lee Williams) - A doctor, she was Malcolm's wife after her marriage to Nathan was dissolved by his death. Has one sister, Drucilla and was for a long time in love with her sister's husband Neil.
  • Nathan Hastings (most notably played by Nathan Purdee from 1985 to 1992) - Olivia's husband, he and Olivia broke up after it was learned he had gotten AIDS from an affair, eventually died from being hit by a car after kidnapping Nate when separated from Olivia.
  • Nathan 'Nate' Hastings, Jr. (formerly played by Bryant Jones) - Olivia and Nathan's son.
  • Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John) - Malcolm's brother, Newman Enterprises executive and recovering alcoholic. Has been married twice to Drucilla Barber, and believes he is the father of her daughter Lily.
  • Drucilla Barber Winters (Victoria Rowell) - Neil's tart-tongued wife and Olvia's sister. Street urchin who was taught to read by Nathan Hastings. Eventually bettered herself into a fashion model, and later an employee at Jabot. Malcolm and Dru slept together one night when Dru was drugged up on painkillers, and he may be Lily's father.
  • Lily Winters (most recently played by Christel Khalil) - long believed to be the child of Neil and Dru, she was recently revealed to be the child of Malcolm and Dru. An unhealthy sexual relationship with Kevin Fisher, whom she met over the internet, led to the revelation that she had an STD. Is now romantically involved with Phyllis Summers' son, Daniel Romalotti Jr. The relationship is opposed by both Phyllis and Dru as they do not get along.

The Williamses and Others

  • Paul Williams (Doug Davidson) - Chris's former husband, a private investigator
  • Mary Williams (Carolyn Conwell) - Paul's meddling, judgmental mother
  • Christine Blair (Lauralee Bell) - Legal aid lawyer and former model. Wife to Danny, then Paul.
  • Danny Romalotti (Michael Damian) - Former breakout rock star. Husband to Traci, Christine and Phyllis.
  • Gina Roma (Patty Weaver) - Danny's older sister. Used to run Gina's, a much-frequented restaurant in Genoa City, but Kevin Fisher burned it down.
  • Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc) - lawyer and former lover of both Chris and Phyllis, son of Gloria and half-brother of Kevin.
  • Kevin Fisher (Greg Rikaart) - disturbed half-brother of Michael Baldwin, set many fires around town and nearly killed John Abbott's granddaughter Colleen, attending therapy to get over an abusive past.
  • Lynne Bassett (Laura Bryan Birn) - Paul's secretary, who insisted on referring to Paul only as "Boss".
  • Lauren Fenmore (Tracey E. Bregman) - Owner of Fenmore Department stores who once was Traci's teenage rival. She's had affairs with Danny, Paul, Brad, and Michael. Widow of Dr. Scott Grainger, Christine's half-brother. Mother of Scott Grainger Jr. Is now engaged to Michael.
  • J.T. Hellstrom (Thad Luckinbill) - Former boyfriend of Brittany and Colleen, musician, works with Paul Williams. Romantically entangled with old friend, Mackenzie Browning, much to Brittany's displeasure.
  • Bobby Marsino (John Enos III) - grew up with his aunt and uncle after his family fell apart, was shocked to learn that Nikki Newman accidentally killed his brother years earlier, wed to Brittany and expecting their first child.
  • Brittany Hodges Marsino (Lauren Woodland) - Childhood friend of J.T. who is married to Bobby and pregnant with his child, daughter of Frederick (John H. Martin) and Anita (Mitzi Kapture).
  • Cameron Kirsten (Linden Ashby) - A successful businessman with a darker side. He terrorized Sharon Newman throughout late 2003 to early fall of 2004.


External sites

simple:The Young and the Restless


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