For me, The Young and the Restless has "jumped the shark," and I am no longer interested in watching or writing about this show because it bears no resemblance to the 21st century. What that means for this column will be explained later on. Similar-themed stories -- like Summer's determined seduction of Billy, her mother's boyfriend -- have been done ad infinitum on every soap that has ever existed since they began on radio in the 1930's -- a time when few women had power of their own, rarely worked outside the home, and consequently depended on the man they were attached to for their financial security and self-esteem.
80 years ago, May-December romances were taken for granted. Older men wanted fertile young women to give them sons, and young women wanted a man who could provide lifelong security and would, hopefully in many loveless marriages, kick the bucket before said man could ditch wife number two for an even younger version. But even then -- when women were in competition for husbands -- it was unusual for daughters to actively try to seduce their mother's non-related significant other, as Summer is trying to do with Billy. Up until now, Summer has had a great relationship with her mother. I can't imagine why she would want to hurt Phyllis in this way. Billy has pushed Summer away at every overture, but she will not take "No" for an answer. Summer seems determined to sacrifice her relationship with Phyllis to have sex with Billy.
I have to ask why -- why can't the writers come up with a story that's appropriate for 2018 instead of one that is better suited for 1938? Why don't we have a story that encourages family loyalty and female solidarity instead of one that still makes attachment to a male more valuable than the love of a mother? The only answer I have is that the show and the writers are stuck in a time warp from when men were helpless boobs, unable to resist the charms of nubile young things, and women, even if they wanted to, had little opportunity to succeed without a man. (I could also blame it on Japanese-owned Sony, which owns Y&R. Sony execs could easily have the same mentality toward women as the Japanese medical school that lowered women's test scores to increase male enrollment and limit females.)
As far as I'm concerned, Summer's action enforces a negative stereotype and is as hateful to women as the recent national examples of racism have been to people of color. Apparently, no one at Y&R is familiar with the #MeToo movement. Enough is enough. As I've said before, if men are so weak that any determined woman can seduce them, then they are helpless babes who need to be cared for, not put in charge of businesses or government. If they can't control themselves around women who are not their significant other, then men should stay at home and let women take on the jobs that require thinking with the big head instead of the little one.
As far as Billy and Summer are concerned, I have no doubt that Summer will succeed in seducing Billy. My only question is whether to call them "Bummer" or "Silly." Though for me, it's both, with "Silly" being my first thought -- because that's what they are, and you can add "disgusting" and "hackneyed" for emphasis. I don't doubt that Billy's excuse for giving in to Summer's enticements will be finding out that Phyllis slept with Nick. I've never felt that two wrongs make a right, and I still don't. It's a convenient excuse, and when Phyllis and Nick's indiscretion comes to light, it will probably torpedo Nick and Sharon's marriage plans, as well. I do hope that Sharon does not give up her house before her wedding to Nick is a fait accompli -- just in case she needs a fallback.
Right now, it appears that Billy is a bad bet. He is taking a huge gamble with Jabot, and if history is any judge, it does not look good for Billy's long-term success. Billy has a bad habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and I doubt that Billy's enormous gamble with Jabot will have any different result than his other reckless endeavors. He's already lost the company yacht, Jaboat, and I have to wonder how he's managed to conceal that from the company accountants for so long. Must have been the enormous tax cuts for corporations. Jabot is swimming in money, and Billy can't lose it fast enough. I wonder what would have happened if Billy had used all that extra cash to help the poor and homeless in Genoa City instead of throwing it away to feed his gambling habit.
Cane is another good example of what not to do. Cane says that he loves Lily, but instead of being truthful, he hid the truth from her -- that Lily caused the accident that killed Hilary and her baby -- and Cane did his best to keep Charlie and Shauna from telling the truth to Lily and the police. As far as I'm concerned, that was disrespectful to Lily and set a very poor example for Charlie and Shauna. If Cane had treated Lily as his partner instead of his "smoking hot" sex object, things might have turned out differently. It's probable that Lily would have received a favorable plea bargain instead of facing two counts of negligent homicide and a potential sentence of 20 years.
An aside here, about lawyers. I wonder how Michael is a good enough attorney to get Victor custody of a child that should never have been removed from his parent but not good enough to get a decent plea bargain for Lily that even a first-year public defender could have arranged with Jack McCoy on Law and Order.
Both Michael's incompetence and Cane's patriarchal approach to marriage have put Lily in jeopardy of losing both her brother and her freedom. Cane's assaults on Devon's privacy and grief in defense of Lily have only caused Devon to dig his heels in deeper. Despite that, Cane continued to approach Devon on Lily's behalf instead of giving Devon time to heal and return to his senses. Cane's utter disregard of everyone else's feelings, except his own -- and other family members' whose interests intersect with Cane's -- amazes me.
Cane has zero compassion or empathy, and I think, in a similar situation, I would be as upset and angry as Devon is. Like Devon, it takes a lot to make me angry, but once I am, I'm like Bruce Banner (the Hulk) -- "You won't like me when I'm angry!" So, like Devon, it's better to leave me alone and let me cool down and come to my senses on my own, because eventually, if you do, I will -- and so will Devon.
Cane's new solution is to take his family and run off to Australia, which made me wonder how that would work out, since I believe that we can extradite from that country. Does that mean that Cane will throw over his CEO job with a billion-dollar company and his enormous salary to ride off into the sunset with his family? What will happen to Charlie and Mattie? Will they have to give up their dreams and take menial jobs to stay off the grid to keep their mother out of jail? Despite the tickets Cane purchased, I don't think the family will make it to the airport, much less out of the country, if for no other reason than that Lily won't go along with it.
On the plus side, it was nice to see that baby Sam, who has been noticeably absent at all the recent family events, is still in the picture and got a plane ticket, too. I wondered where he was the last time the family had a special dinner at the Athletic Club. In my experience, most people take their infant child with them when the whole family dines out. Y&R could have used a fake sleeping baby in a carrier tucked away on a spare chair just to remind us that Sam was still around. Not having Sam around occasionally is another unnecessary, glaring disconnect from reality on Y&R. They don't need a real baby, just a good imitation and some sound effects.
I could drone on, but I won't. It's pretty clear to me why daytime soaps are losing viewers and are not connecting with younger people: they are no longer edgy or timely. There is much better and more realistically relevant fare to be found on cable channels and streaming services. Now that I have Netflix, Hulu, Acorn, and Britbox, I've quit watching broadcast TV almost entirely. With 23 minutes of commercials in every hour of broadcast TV, most stories are formulaic, and story details are truncated. Even fast-forwarding with a DVR doesn't improve the programming.
On the streaming services, an hour program lasts almost an hour and therefore has time for more detail than a 37-minute program with at least five program interruptions to air ten or more ads. The last interruption before the final scene is so long that the climax is anticlimactic most of the time.
Even though I intend to take a break from the soaps, I don't intend to stop reading all the latest news and views on Soap Central, still the best soap website (in my opinion) ever. I am very grateful to Dan Kroll for giving me the opportunity to start writing recaps in 2007 and Two Scoops in 2013. He had a lot of faith in me. I also want to thank Lisa Svenson for editing this column and making me sound so good. They have been terrific people to work with, and I will miss them.
Finally, let me say that it has been my privilege and pleasure to share my opinions and interact with you during these last five years. As a result, I have grown as a writer and as a person. I want to thank all of you who've read and commented on the column and my writing. I've enjoyed hearing from you, especially those of you who understood and appreciated my sometimes irreverent and zany sarcasm.
30-plus years of watching soaps schooled me about sexism, racism, and how not to behave. Now that the lessons are starting to repeat, it's time for me to change schools! Please wish me good luck and Godspeed as I continue my journey, just as I wish you Godspeed and good luck on yours.
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