Josh Griffith defends Y&R writer firings as "a creative decision"

Posted Thursday, March 23, 2023 2:45:14 PM
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Y&R's head writer and executive producer Joshua Griffith is speaking out about his decision to slash the show's writing team.

It's been a month since The Young and the Restless head writer and executive producer reportedly fired the show's entire team of breakdown writers. It's a move that is still very much a topic of conversation of social media.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Y&R executive producer and head writer Josh Griffith defended the decision.

"It was a creative decision that we felt would streamline the process and give us more efficiency," he told the Times.

Sony Pictures Television, which produces Y&R, has declined to comment on the matter.

Fans remain concerned about how the decision to downsize the writing team will impact the show. Griffith will absorb most of the responsibilities of the writers that were let go. There are conflicting reports about the number of writers that were fired. Initial reports had the number at five, but the Times cited sources that revealed that only four of the five breakdown writers were terminated.

Griffith won't really be writing the show alone. Amanda Beall remains on board as co-head writer. When the Times met with the pair for their article, Griffith and Beall were discussing two characters having "bunker sex." No additional details were revealed, but that sure sounds like a May Sweeps event.

Because of the volume of episodes produced each year, soap operas have a very different writing process than almost every other television series. The head writer is tasked with creating the major storyline arcs. The head writer also helps devise how those stories should play out each week, called "thrusts." Breakdown writers than take these thrusts and create more detailed outlines of each episode -- descriptions of each scene, as well as how scenes should play out and be broken up throughout the episodes.

From there, the outlines are turned over to the script writers who provide the dialogue in each scene. Janice Ferri Esser, one of the scriptwriters at Y&R, is the longest-serving writer at the CBS soap. Since joining the show in 1989, Esser has written more than 1,600 episodes.

"That's the equivalent of writing 800 feature films, and having them produced and aired," Esser said.

Once the script writer is done -- a process that takes about a week -- the draft is then submitted for editing and approval. A few weeks later, the episodes are filmed. About a month after that (or many months in the case of Days of our Lives), the episode hits the airwaves.

"It's not just creativity, it's endurance that you need," Griffith explained. "Over the years, we've had people from the movies and primetime TV. And they're brilliant writers, but they don't have that muscle."

The all-Josh-all-the-time episodes have not yet hit the airwaves, so there has been no opportunity for viewers to judge if there is a difference in the show's writing.

When they do, Griffith hints that he and the rest of the writing staff will be receptive to the feedback.

"You used to wait weeks before people would write their letters telling you how much they hate what you're doing," Griffith said. "Now [with social media] you can find out by the end of the day."

What do you think of the decision to fire Y&R's breakdown writers? Is this a case of wait-and-see before you can decide if it was a good or bad move for the show? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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