Listen up, The Young and the Restless fans! It's time to get excited about the show again.
The CBS soap's new head writer, Sally Sussman -- who's not exactly new, as she worked alongside the series' legendary co-creator William J. Bell from 1984 to 1989 and returned again in the mid-2000s -- has made some serious changes that will not only warm viewers' hearts but also make their jaws drop.
The longtime soap writer gave a no-holds-barred interview to TV Insider in which she boldly bashes a lot of what viewers have seen in recent years as well as spells out her plan to get the soap (which is fortunately still number one in the ratings) on solid footing.
"The response [to me rejoining the show] has been so heartening! The enthusiasm of the fans on the message boards has touched me a lot," Sussman says. "I loved Bill Bell and it's a real testament to his talent that, even with all the not-so-good changes at Y&R over the last few years, the show is still on the air and still relatively solid. That's due to what Bill created. But I won't lie. What's happened to Y&R, and what's happened to daytime in general, makes me sad. There have been people hired to write this show who didn't know the history."
What's more, she opines, Y&R should be right alongside popular primetime series when it comes to its can't-miss factor, and that's something she hopes to achieve. "The irony of this whole thing is that, while soaps are said to be dying, the serialized format is thriving today like never before -- in primetime, in cable, even in the big movie franchises. How ironic is it that the genre that was once at the cutting edge of storytelling is now stuck doing stories about stolen babies? There is so much to write about today, so much to talk about, and that's what Bill did. When people want to see the old Y&R recreated, what they mean is that they want honesty with the characters. They don't want a show driven by plot or incident," she explains.
"Y&R has a bigger audience than, say, Mad Men, but Mad Men had a devoted audience," she goes on to say. "You didn't dare miss it. That's where daytime has missed the boat. It has failed to make the shows cultish and contemporary. Now [executive producer and head writer] Brad Bell certainly makes The Bold and the Beautiful contemporary. But the others have gone completely the opposite -- it feels like you're watching the 1980s again. That's why people don't talk about soaps much anymore, certainly not in the mainstream conversation. I have issue stories I want to tell, if the network [will let me], stories that can make Y&R relevant again. The genre isn't dead yet, thank God. Y&R still gets over 4 million viewers. First, we must keep the audience we have, but I do believe we can bring back some of the lapsed viewers and make them want to see the show again. That will be the test."
So what exactly will Sussman do to transform Y&R into a show everybody will want to be watching? She says fans will see the changes immediately -- no slow burn here. For example, her first episode on Wednesday, December 7, will feature an Abbott family breakfast. "And it will be a real scene, like in the old days," she teases. "I want to get back the spirit of Y&R, which to me is topical, multi-leveled storytelling with extended scenes -- none of this choppy-chop-chop-chop stuff -- and stories that give the audience a real payoff."
She also has big plans for who she considers eight stalwart characters: Nikki [Melody Thomas Scott], Victor [Eric Braeden], Jack [Peter Bergman], Ashley [Eileen Davidson], Nick [Joshua Morrow], Sharon [Sharon Case], Billy [Jason Thompson], and Victoria [Amelia Heinle].
To find out exactly what Sussman has in store for Genoa City's most popular characters, as well as her opinion on what else definitely needs changing on the CBS soap, check out TV Insider's full interview with the writer here.
What do you think about Sussman's plans for Y&R? Is there anything in particular you're looking forward to? Are there any changes she plans to make that you don't agree with? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.