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THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
The Young and the Restless (Y&R) is a soap opera known for its down-to-earth storylines and realistic characters mixed in with a little daily drama and romance. Viewers will see affairs and corporate takeovers on the show, but rarely ridiculous storylines that involve alien invasions, spy adventures, or over-the-top villains. The realistic elements of this show are why fans love it so much. Y&R is also famous for its notorious storylines over the years. Here is an overview of some of the most controversial moments in this soap opera’s history.
While soap operas currently dive into storylines that feature gay and lesbian relationships, back in the 1970s these types of topics were a bit taboo. In those days, Katherine was mourning the loss of her husband, feeling a tad lonely, and her friend Joann moved in with Chancellor after her divorce. It seems that Katherine would develop feelings for her friend, and at one point, even touched her hand, and the two women shared a kiss.
Matt Clark and Nick Newman had a huge rivalry in high school, causing a tremendous amount of chaos in the late 1990s. Clark would leave town in 1996, only to resurface in 2000 when he returned to Genoa City with a new face, eager to seek revenge on Nick and Sharon. He even pulled out his own breathing tube cord while in the hospital, essentially killing himself, all in the hopes of framing Nick for his murder. This was disturbing on so many levels, and while Nick was found not guilty, many fans were taken aback by how extreme this storyline was.
Speaking of disturbing, Adam Newman has always been a controversial character on the Y&R; however, his antics in 2009 were very over the top. Not only did he cause Ashley’s mental breakdown and her miscarriage, but he also switched Sharon’s baby and gave Faith to Abbott. To boot, a heterosexual Adam seducing and bedding a homosexual Rafe Torres (who was investigating him) seemed to cross a line or two and proved that Adam would literally do anything to cover his tracks and escape jail time.
In 2012, Y&R shed some light on the increasing concern around cyberbully and teenagers, which continues to be a huge issue in today’s world, when a young Summer taunted a peer on social media, via text, and instant messaging. The silver lining was that once she got to know the person she was bullying, and realized how much she was hurting him, she did try and rectify things.
In the mid-90s, Nathan Hastings dove into an affair with Keesha Monroe, cheating on his wife Olivia. While everyone kept Nathan’s infidelity under wraps, when Keesha found out her ex-boyfriend died of AIDS, Olivia was finally brought into the loop. The storyline brought the HIV/AIDS condition into the forefront for fans, and while Keesha ended up being HIV positive, and eventually developing AIDS, somehow Nathan (and thus Olivia) were spared.
In 2010, the Abby Newman character underwent soap opera rapid aging syndrome (SORAS), transforming from teenager to a young adult. As such, the Naked Heiress storyline was launched where Abby jaunted everywhere in the nude. This included riding into the Athletic Club au natural on a horse. Abby was a rebel at that point in time, looking to create controversy and scandal to launch a reality television show concept. She even taped Danny Romalotti and herself doing the deed so she could have a sex tape and get famous. The storyline ended up being a little over-the-top for older viewers who weren’t used to seeing such antics before.
Billy Abbott and Mackenzie Brown were each other’s first true loves. The couple did have their ups and downs, but they also shared magic and chemistry that Y&R viewers loved to watch. In 2003, right after their wedding, the two discovered that they were related and actually cousins. As it turned out (at that point in time) Billy’s mom (Jill) was the daughter of Mac’s grandma (Katherine)! The very idea of them hooking up creeped many Y&R viewers out. The good news is that they weren’t ever cousins after all which was revealed years later. Gotta love those soap opera plot twists!
In 1984, the late and great Jeanne Cooper pitched an out-of-the-box idea to Y&R executives that had never been seen on daytime drama before. As she was going to have a facelift, she thought that art could imitate life and asked the writers to develop a facelift storyline for Katherine’s character as well. The execs agreed, and Katherine had a facelift on the show. While many fans applauded the authenticity of the storyline, some viewers were turned off by the concept.
Same-sex relationships aren’t new to the soap opera world or Y&R for that matter, but the land of daytime drama hasn’t fully dived into the concept of bisexuality. Mariah and Tessa are currently engaged in romance where two friends became lovers. It seems to be widely accepted by viewers at this pint, but when they initially started flirting with the idea, there was a little controversy around this storyline as both women were involved with men prior to this romance.
Speaking of Mariah, she hits another controversial moment on this list. She entered the land of Genoa City in 2014 and moved in with Nick and Sharon Newman as she tried to establish herself in the little town. Sharon felt drawn to the young woman as she had an uncanny resemblance to her dead daughter Cassie, yet Mariah was initially drawn to Nick and became infatuated with him. It was a little creepy and gross, considering that Nick was technically her step-dad as she ended up being Cassie’s twin. Long-time Y&R fans had seen the unique bond Cassie and Nick developed while she was growing up, and watching Mariah make the moves on him was just awful to watch.
Something as equally as uncomfortable as Mariah and Nick was the time in 2012 when Sharon and Victor were an item. For years, Victor was like a father-figure to Sharon when she was married to Nick. Watching the two turn their beautiful daddy-daughter relationship into something else seemed incestuous for some fans. Turns out the actors who play Victor and Sharon Newman disapproved of the storyline as well.
The debate around abortions still lingers on today. Both pro and against supporters of this issue can be quite passionate about their sides which makes Ashley Abbott’s 1987 such a huge controversy for that time. Overall in daytime drama, most women decide against abortions or end up losing a baby via miscarriage if they are on the fence about the pregnancy. Ashley’s decision to go through with her abortion during that time was huge.