Should Paul Williams return to The Young and the Restless? It’s a surprisingly loaded question. Firstly, let’s dispel with the idea that we’re merely asking about a character return, because we’re not. We’re talking about one of Y&R’s pillars, a hugely popular presence that has been portrayed by the one and only Doug Davidson since 1978.
From his varied romances and infidelities to his troubled family life, Paul Williams has arguably held the greatest esteem in fandom circles of any character outside the Newman and Abbott family trees (okay, it’s a tight race with Katherine Chancellor for that title). He has rich histories with the majority of characters on the canvas, so he can interact with a number of current storylines.
On top of that, he’s the police chief of the Genoa City Police Department, a role that should keep him on a steady, recurring contract at minimum. There are several storylines that desperately need him. Like, why is Rey investigating his own poisoning? Because apparently he’s the only badge in town!
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Secondly, the question surrounding Paul Williams has a somewhat checkered history. While viewers noted a decline in his character’s storylines over the last few years, Davidson’s firing in 2018 came as a shock to fans and cast-mates alike. He returned for a while in 2019 and again in 2020.
Although Paul Williams hasn’t been seen on air since November 19th, 2020, his alter ego remains very visible on social media. He regularly engages with his fervent fanbase and is direct regarding his relationship with Y&R.
“I have no shows left to air and no dates scheduled,” he replied to a fan in early 2020. “I guess I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.”
In March of this year, his frustration had taken on a deflated acceptance when he tweeted “I think I am done. After 43 years, I am treated like a day player. No bueno.”
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On May 8th, Eric Braeden (who plays Victor Newman) came to Davidson’s defence, tweeting “I have been in DOUGIE DAVIDSON’S CORNER FOR YEARS!”
“I think it is utterly wrong that he isn’t involved in story lines,” the icon railed. “He is one of the all time favorites on our soap and should bloody well be an important part of it!!!”
Although certainly the most strongly worded attack Braeden has offered on the issue, it isn’t the first. At the time of Davidson’s firing in 2018, Braeden retweeted a fan’s reaction: “I have just learned that the wonderful Doug Davidson has been fired… This is a disgrace.”
While Davidson and Braeden’s comments have shown just how much support a Paul Williams comeback has, one wonders if Y&R show-writers might object to the public criticism. Unless there’s a contract dispute, it’s hard to find any other explanation as to why such an iconic character (and available actor) has been shelved.
There’s no shortage of chatter on this issue. Fans have debated whether this is a case of ageism, while soaps writers have gone so far as to pitch storyline ideas that feature the former private investigator. Supposed “insiders” have claimed for months that several cast members are rallying for Davidson’s return.
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It isn’t that Y&R should do the right thing because they owe Doug Davidson for his decades of work. Rather, Y&R writers should bring Paul Williams back because they owe the fans — and the fans have spoken. Either reinstate everyone’s favorite police chief to the Genoa City canvas, or at least supply fans with a statement regarding why that won’t happen. If Davidson’s work has made the character irreplaceable in the eyes of so many, then how can Y&R deem him expendable?
The outcry has reached a sustained pitch for too long, so we’ll add our voice to the choir: when will Y&R producers address the future of Paul Williams?
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