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The Young And The Urban, Black America's Favorite Daytime Show, Three Decades and Going

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By John Gordon
UC Staff Writer

Upon stepping on the set, I had an immediate feeling of comfort, and recognition. With the exception of the cameras, directors, producers, and grips, I was at home, my "second home" of Genoa City, which I visit, Monday through Friday when I watch the Young and the Restless.

This has been my "second home" every possible weekday morning for as long as I can remember. I know things about this show, which I now know, even some of the actors have no knowledge or memory of. You now know I am an expert, like no other of this show, its storylines, and progression.

This visit enabled me to obtain a knowledge of this show that changed my thoughts and opinions of Y and R, a change both good and bad. I was first introduced to most of the African American cast, a total of seven main characters (a presence unseen on any other network). In addition, this strong seven is joined by an equally vibrant and powerful supporting cast, both Black and White.

On a daily basis, this talented ensemble, presents to their audience positive stories of Black love, success, and offer a view to young viewers, the visions of the possibilities, so often unseen in daytime and prime-time alike.

With all of these positive African American screen images, you can imagine my surprise to find that there were very few African American employees behind the scenes (with the exception of several young African American interns and a handful of grips, script techs, and a host of other similar positions). I was introduced to no one on this day, with a position of power or influence, meaning, no writers, producers, or directors, who were African American.

For this reason, I was not very surprised to learn from Victoria Rowell (Drucilla to the diehards) that she must make Drucilla a lot more "realistic." When asked if she considered herself a writer, she immediately denounced the title. I then say to Ms. Rowell, if the Y and R script was a record, as on records, if you add a riff, you get a writer credit. Ms. Rowell, you add the riff, the hook, and the background to the record of this script daily, and for that reason, accept the title of writer and own it, at least until someone who looks like you begins to write for you.

The lack of African American writers and producers was a subject that was repeated several times during this visit. With all of the talent on the stage at that moment, it quickly became evident that their one desire was to have writers who were more "in tune."

They desire storytellers who know and feel the plight as well as the accomplishments of their strengths and weaknesses. For that same reason, an African American writer, could very easily debate the start of obviously "doomed" relationships, (i.e., Neil and Victoria, Brad and Olivia, and of course, "the worse de la worse" John Abbot and Mamie Johnson). Hindsight should make it apparent that African American writers would have argued this coupling to the death.

With all the confusion (to me) of the African American cast, and what seemed to be the deliberate lack of African American writers, I set off on a mission to speak with David Shaughnessy, the newly crowned, Executive Producer. (William J. Bell, the creator and former Executive Producer has taken on the less active role of Senior Executive Producer).

My goal was to hear from "the boss" why this show, though so popular, with African Americans had not one writer (besides Ms. Rowell) that represented in race and in writing, a vast majority of its viewers. I was expecting some well thought out and PC response from Mr. Shaughnessy, and to my great surprise, learned that he was a straight-shooting, aspiring actor, who simply uttered the most dull and consistently repeated comment on the set, "If it's not broke, why fix it?"

Why fix it? Fix it because your ratings, in your words, "are dwindling." Fix it if for no other reason than the fact that I want African American story lines to relate to me and to flow as smoothly as those of other characters. Fix it Mr. Shaughnessy, because although not broken now, eventually because of all the character growth, and family expansion, the "ethnically tunnel" writing style of the present team, will eventually just mimic that of other daytime shows. Y and R and its cast deserves more. The devoted fans, of all races deserve more.

Mr. Shaughnessy, I applaud your honesty, and the fact that you were so forward about an antiquated style of African American writing, however, you are in a great position to make this change, and I know you feel this is truly the right thing to do. If not simply to soften the corners of your African American dialog, just do it to say you tried something new.

As the need has presented itself, I would be happy to forward my resume, as you already know from our conversation, I got the Genoa City family tree and history down.
With all of this new and profound knowledge, I left the set with the comfort of knowing that my idea of a possible coupling of the "perfect" interracial pair was actually heard by the Executive Producer.

But sadly, the question that I know is lingering in the minds of Y and R fans across the nation and still remains unanswered. The coupling, is the idea of an affair between Mr. Billy Abbot (the princely son of John and Jill Abbot) and Lily Winters (the princess-like daughter of Neil Winters and Drucilla Barber-Winters), a match made in interracial heaven.

The lingering question is of course, "Who is Drucilla's baby's daddy?" Will we ever know? Probably not, but it sure is fun to speculate. And that is what I believe to be the true beauty of this serial, with all of its storylines and characters, there is a consistency that is unparallel and unsurpassed by any other show on any other network. Happy 30th Birthday Y and R.

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