created by William
J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell
recorded at Television City,
CPT Holdings, Inc, for CBS
Writers: William J.
Bell, William Bell, Kay Alden, John F. Smith,
Michael Minnie, Trent Jones, Jerry
Birn, Janice Feiri, Jim Houghton,
Eric Freiwold, Rex M. Best
Directors: Heather Hill, Mike
Denny, Kathryn Foster, Sally McDonald, Betty Rothberg
Producer: David Shaughnessy
Judge Ms. Viewer presiding
Charges: false feminization
The action takes place in Genoa City,
a mythical location somewhere near Madison, Wisconsin, east
of the Appalachian industrial belt. The principal character is Victor
Newman, a middle-aged patriarch of uncertain ethnic origin, whose
Freudian file is as replete with bizarre incidental totems as is the cosmetics
firm he runs with the autocratic wisdom of a Howard Hughes. Womanizer,
playboy, a father who has been married and divorced several times, his
company employs his children, ex-wives, friends and rivals in a corporate
structure that more resembles a harem than the
sophisticated international business
it is alleged to be.
While Victor is often central to
the ongoing action, there can be as many as nine stories going on, some
them Jabo related, some of them more peripheral, added for socio-political
reasons as much as for dramatic contrast. In keeping with recent Prime
Time propaganda, no one smokes, and while fine wine appears to be the social
drink of choice, more often than not even a villainess is seen sipping
mineral water. Guns are allowed, as are bare male torsos, but no female
nakedness (it's true that we recentlysaw the black Jabo executive Neil
Winters trying to mount his fashion model
wife Dru but the moral of
his impotence masked any T & A we might have glimpsed). Unavoidably,
characters sometimes vanish from the drama before their stories are finished
-- sometimes to reappear at another time -- but usually the integrity of
action is sustained with the standard devices of death and transfer, and
the stories complete their cycles, however asymmetric they sometimes are.
The matriarch is Nikki, the divorced
mother of Victor's children, Nicholas and Victoria (both junior executives
at Jabo), who has the physical -- if not the titular -- possession of
the Newman ranch, and her adult children and whomever they are married
to at any given time. Both kids occupy guest houses at the ranch, so the
family unit survives repeated death, transfer and existential exit. The
secondaries are lawyers, musicians, detectives, writers, doctors -- those
professions that are either on the cutting edge of personal freedom or
personal sacrifice. At the current time of writing (March '98) the major
crisis in the drama involves the murder of Nikki's
husband Joshua and her own near-fatal
shooting by his former wife, the psychopathic Veronica. Secondary crises
involve Nick and Sharon (personal, marital), Cricket and Paul (marital),
Neil and Dru (marital), etc. Relationships are routinely destroyed by sex,
politics, obsessive personal agendas, and yet just as routinely reinvent
themselves from the limbs of the colliding triangles that are the restless
matrix of this famous Soap Opera.
Prosecution: Your Honor,
what does it say about the state of North American culture when we realize
that The Young and the Restless is the most popular drama on television,
with an audience that lingers around 7 on the Nielsen scale (just about
seven million viewers), and with who knows what following in countries
around the world? Who can these millions be -- idiots? Incarcerated criminals,
hospital patients, people with only one channel? A glance at the pantheon
of writers and directors suggests that it is by
women for women. Certainly the setting
of a perfume factory suggests it. But even if the target audience
is women it doesn't excuse the false psychology of the characters
and cloying propaganda of the situations. Men who talk and
think like women can only be a fit pursuit for girls playing with dolls,
part of an infantile gender fantasy that has no reality in either history
or in contemporary biological reality.
Consider the lead, Victor Newman
(ac. Eric Braedon). Is he a hero or a villain? Or is he that Harlequin
beast who poses as one while acting as the other? Vaguely Latin and sinister,
yet possibly Anglo in some sort of alternate colonial universe, he's always
a paradox of social behavior. His feely-touchy greetings with their vaguely
East-Bloc decorum are pure sexual harassment, yet his demeanor is New Age
sensitivity to a nauseating level of either fraudulent intent or psycho-sexual
obsession. Three thousand years ago he would've been a Greek god -- powerful,
jealous, a meddler in other
people's business with the usual
All the characters are meddlers,
gendered in a peculiar female psychology, more hermaphrodite than male.
The lack of concern for privacy and the integrity of individual spirituality
is staggering. Characters frequently confront one another in closed, interior
spaces, armed, as it were, with can openers, threatening to open each other's
heads in crude overtures of sympathy or hostile attempts at thought-control.
One is reminded of an ant colony or a cult. Indeed, Victor's company
operates in a continuous gestalt of crisis therapy, the fevered dialogues
worthy of Brother 12 or L. Ron Hubbard.
Perhaps the worst of these drag artists
is Jack Abbot (ac. Peter Bergman), Victor's second-in-command, a perpetual
understudy in the Condition of Defeat.The altruism of the characters
is habitually sickening, and none more so than that of "smilin' Jack".
Recently Jack has been seen pondering how to reverse a vasectomy for his
arch-rival and nemesis Victor in order that his lost love Diane (now married
to Victor) can be happy and fulfilled. No Iago here, alas, or Casio for
Or there is Ryan MacNeil (ac. Scott
Reeves), the poster-boy exec, former husband of Victor's daughter
Victoria, former husband of Nina, who, having dropped Nina for the younger
mixen Trina, now proposes to continue being a father to Nina's son, even
though the kid isn't his. The same with the supreme narcissist Danny Romalotti
(ac. Michael Damian), the pop star who went to court in order to gain custody
of his former wife's son. These absurd altruists might conform to the social
engineering fantasies of L.A. City Social Services but have no grounding
in reality. The tabloid excesses of
the writing appears to be boundless.
Men and women who are incapable of sustaining relationships for more than
a few months are eager to adopt the children of their discards as if this
quid pro quo were a natural part of the way life works. Sure. Your Honor,
ask the single mothers of the world if this is how things stand with them.
Talking about children, why are they
all unbelievable in The Young and the Restless? Because kids can't act?
No. It's propaganda rather than character. Kids always eager to do homework,
to do as they are told, eager to mouth the moral certainties of adults.
Sometimes I think these guys must be into science-fiction. The little people
are androids, while the adults are transitional cyborgs, the real humans
having exited the show fifteen, twenty years ago.
Too many characters in too many scenes
are merely marking time rather than advancing story. A deliberate device
for allowing late comers to pick up on the action, some say. Lousy writing,
I say. If this is some sort of reversal on the famous "inverted pyramid"
technique in journalism, then send these writers back to school or make
them pound the beat. But of course... they are merely responding to the
commands of some executive aesthete further up the chain of command. How
else can one account for so many absurd conventions? Couples who dance
alone in rented spaces, imbibing magnums of clichés, caressing each
other in a false hypnosis. Characters lingering in doorways, monitoring
forbidden conversations. Characters with secrets known by everyone
except God. Blah blah.... Over and
over, love is presented as a commodity, scripted by the FTD, directed by
the Chamber of Commerce.
I have a suggestion, your Honor.
Kill off King Victor. A plague descends on Genoa City. Enter X, Nikki's
abandoned son. X kills the Sphinx that has been sitting on the roof of
the Newman Enterprises complex, the plague is lifted, and the joyful citizens
offer up Queen Nikki as the reward. X marries Nikki...and the Freudian
nightmare continues. Is this America today or what, your honor?
Jesus. Your honor, the prosecution has fallen into mockery!
Judge: I agree. (to
the Prosecutor) Continue your argument or sum up.
That was my summation. But I'll withdraw the Oedipus stuff if
The Court feels it's out of order....
Judge: (shrugs) I have
no problem with the classics. Counsel?
Defense: Let the Prosecution
have its moment of contempt.... Seems to me, your honor, that the Prosecution
has missed the intellectual intention of this drama completely. The Young
& the Restless uses that greatest of all literary devices, self-irony.
Remember the recent scene wherein Michael Baldwin (ac. Christen Le Blanc),
the disgraced criminal lawyer now reduced to being a "para-legal", paces
his lover's apartment, exclaims, "I was a
different person back then -- an
out-of-control sexual deviant." To which the scheming psychotrollop Phyllis
replies, "I wish I'd known you back then --" Rape reality, rape fantasy...
two women, two responses. Take your pick. If this isn't self-parody, what
Let us admit from the outset that
if there's anything wrong with the
characters it certainly isn't due
to the acting. The acting is unfailingly
good, often superb. Counsel has
a problem with Jack Abbot? Bergman won Emmys for that role twice, within
several nominations. So have several of the other actors. He has a problem
with the writing but yet the writing team won an Emmy, and was just nominated
-- Emmys are like publishing prizes. Pure hype, propaganda from the industry.
I mean, what is the competition?
Judge: Yes, what is the standard
Defense: Well, I believe
there are currently eight daytime Soaps in annual contention.
Judge: Eight seems like
good competition to me --
Prosecution: All that
means is they'll win at least once every eight years --
your Honor, that woman Lucci from All My Children has been nominated a
dozen times, never won an Emmy.
bullshit politics, is all.
Judge: Enough, Counsel.
Objection overruled. Let the Defense continue his argument.
Defense: Right. My learned
friend has spent some time slagging the "feminization" of the male
characters and the dramatic execution of the show in general. His attack
on the primary character, Victor Newman, is elemental, even unpleasant.
But honestly, when I listened to his description of Mr. Newman, I wondered
if in fact it wasn't motivated by an envy that cloaked a deep admiration...?
"Three thousand years ago he would've been a Greek god" -- indeed. Victor's
character is a masterpiece of ironic intervention. To begin with, he is
by no means as "new" as his name suggests
as he embodies paradox: on the one
hand he operates with the obsolete values of a sultan, while on the other
he moves with the adaptive moral certainty of a New Age vulgarian. He's
both singular and plural, jealous and omniscient, yet capable of an occasional
selfless magnamity and spiritual clairvoyance. Each identity masks the
other, sometimes exchanging places with the capriciousness of, yes, a god,
a hero, a creature of myth... a brute with a hangover who is a saint
with a casket of candy. Unbelievable? Of course. He is a metaphor, not
The other characters? Sharon Newman
(ac. Sharon Case), that tormented beauty whose character can't be separated
from that of her best friend and doppelganger, the equally beautiful anima,
Grace Turner (ac. Jennifer Gareis). Together they form a complete psychology
which is realized, given form, by Nick Newman
(ac. Josh Morrow) who plays that
favorite ideal, the innocent young
Prosecution: Is he a
Defense: (soldiers on)
Grace rediscovers Sharon's lost illegitimate child, keeps her, then tricks
Sharon's husband into making love to her... not the stuff a true friend
should do, but certainly just what an alter-ego might do.Love, fear, insecurity,
betrayal -- great stuff, your Honor.
Perhaps the best of the recent stories
was the short, twisted marriage of Nikki (ac. Melody Thomas Scott)
to another Harlequin ideal, the handsome young doctor. Here's a character
with a secret (and one he doesn't even know about): a mad wife whom he
thought had drowned but was in fact anonymously incarcerated in an asylum.
The wife, Veronica (ac. Candace Daly), escapes from the asylum and arrives
in Genoa City, where she insinuates herself into
her husband's new home (Nikki's
settlement from Victor) in the disguise of a domestic drone called Sarah.
This gothic scenario comes to a natural climax of jealousy and revenge
during a storm when Sarah reveals her true identity to Joshua, is rebuffed,
then shoots him dead. Her encounter with Nikki is just as violent and bloody,
although regrettably Nikki survives....
Judge: You're describing
a lot of strong women here, Counsel.
Defense: That's so.
The characters that work the best are those which come closest to realizing
their psychopathic potential.... Veronica/Sarah, Phyllis, Grace, maybe
Michael Baldwin, and most definitely Victor Newman.
Judge: But at the same
time, there seem to be a lot of passive men.
Defense: Well the yuppy
black exec Neil Winters isn't passive -- he just booted his wife out because
she wouldn't heel, wouldn't put her family and home before her modeling
the men are all dolls. Puppets.
Defense: Just because
they frequently exemplify the Christian value of self-sacrifice doesn't
mean they aren't real men. Your Honor, you're a woman. I ask you --
Judge: (removing his
female wig) Ask me what?
You're a man!
Judge: Lucky for you,
Counsel for the Prosecution. (to the Defense) Sit down, sir. I've
heard enough to rule on this case. The charge is one of "false feminization",
that is, the feminization of the male characters in The Young & the
Restless for the purposes of cheap fantasy and propaganda. Frankly, as
I listened to the Defense I thought I was hearing a prosecution argument.
The men are metaphors.... (sighs, shakes his head) I've watched this show
on occasion because my wife has it on before the six o'clock News.
The shooting of Nikki was very poorly
handled.... However, I digress. The actions of the male characters
speak for themselves. Suckholes, little more than pets, and I for one resent
this attempt at reducing the American male to child dependency. I find
The Young & the Restless guilty as charged.