I hate to kick a show when it's down in ratings and talent, but I must — "The Young and the Restless" is jumping the shark. The term "jumping the shark" came about when Fonzie on Happy Days literally jumped a shark while water-skiing. That episode was the beginning of the end for the once uber popular sitcom.
Before getting into what is wrong about "The Young and the Restless," the latest actor defection from the show spells more trouble. Eileen Davidson, (Ashley) who won a best actress Emmy this year, has quit. Davidson says she is exiting the show to spend more time with her family. I'll have to take her at her word, but husband Vince Van Patten spends a lot of time on the road as host of the World Poker Tour. Their son is at that age when just being seen with a parent is akin to facing a firing squad.
Perhaps it is what I call the Tara Lipinski/Mandy Patinkin — otherwise known as the "I am leaving to spend more time with my family" excuse. Lapinsky said she was dropping out of the Olympic competition for that reason. Then she toured with the Ice Capades. You know, that show that was on the road most of the year. Patinkin left several TV shows, inclusing "Chicago Hope" and "Criminal Minds" for that same reason. He immediately went on tour with his one-man show. Perhaps Davidson is leaving to spend more time with the family. Or it may be the rumors that Sony, which produces the show, is telling actors to "take it or leave it " when it comes to a new contract.
Last month, Mishael Morgan (Hilary) decided not to renew her contract after a five-year run.
But the stars leaving are the least of the show's problems.
There is hardly one character to root for on the show — just Paul and Michael. And those characters have been MIA for months.
There are too many storylines: Mariah and Tessa, Billy and Summer/Phyliss, Arturo and anybody, Sharon and Nick getting back together and Victor as evil puppet master.
Then there are the storylines that are meant to be twists, but are just making matters worse. Jack is not John's son? Phyliss is playing strip poker with Billy the gambling addict? They're using Sharon's bipolar past as a reason to give Victor temporary custody of Christian? And who killed or did not kill JT?
It is not too late turn the show around. Despite its dropping numbers, the show is still number one. It is not going to be cancelled. Just being on the air is not enough to want a show to be on the air. Viewers deserve a watchable show.
So, miss know-it-all Lynda, what would you do to fix the show? I would have made the last six months one big dream ala Dallas. Too easy. I would stop stuffing characters like Tessa, Arturo, Kyle and Summer down our throats. Give a story to Charlie and Mattie, ditto Lauren, Michael, Paul and Christine. You know, characters the audience knows and cares about.
Fixing a soap is like twisting a kaleidoscope. One turn can transform a boring view into a beautiful one. There must be someone who knows daytime drama and can return Y&R to not only a show that is watchable, but a show that is a joy to watch.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.