Deep Soap: ‘Y&R’ Could Use Some ‘General Hospital’-Style Levity

Bradford Anderson of ABC's "General Hospital" and Sharon Case of "The Young and the Restless" (Photos: ABC, CBS)

A Tale of Two Soaps

Everyday, I eagerly look forward to watching “General Hospital.” From Robin’s (Kimberly McCullough) impending return to her family, to Silas and Sam’s burgeoning romance, there is as much as puts a smile on my face as brings a tear to my eye.

Plenty of bad things happen. Connie (Kelly Sullivan) was murdered. Dante (Dominic Zamporgna) and Lulu (Emme Rylan)  are going to have to give the baby they love back to its biological parents. But they are counterbalanced: Dante and Lulu’s loss will be Maxie (Kristen Storms) and Spinelli’s (Bradford Anderson) gain.

In contrast, right now I steel myself for watching “The Young & the Restless” like it’s a trip to the dentist. Plenty is happening, but almost all of it is depressing.

Chelsea (Melissa Egan) and Adam’s (Michael Muhney) baby is blind. Michael (Christian LeBlanc) is prepared to throw his life away by confessing to a murder he did not commit. The victim is Carmine (Marco Dapper), who before he inexplicably went psycho was poised to become the Casanova of Genoa City. That would have been a lot more fun to watch.

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Sharon (Sharon Case) is mentally ill and refuses to get help. Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) is in a coma.  Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) has MS. Dylan (Steve Burton) has PTSD. Darkest of all, the show is about to kill a child just a month after the death of the show’s beloved matriarch Katherine.

The only upbeat storyline is Devon (Bryton James) unexpectedly inheriting $2 billion, but instead of throwing a giant party and enjoying his newfound fortune, he’s been stressed out about the situation and claims he does not want to change his life. God forbid we should get to see someone having fun even though aspirational, wish-fulfillment storylines are a daytime staple.

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I am not sure why “Y&R” has gotten so dark, though a case could be made that Genoa City has been a miserable place to live for the past few years and it’s now more noticeable because the other soaps have lightened up.

The deaths of Brad, Colleen and Cassie were hardly happy occasions. When “Y&R” executive producer Jill Farren Phelps was in charge at “GH,” that show was equally gloomy. It’s her signature storytelling style. So far, it has not had a negative impact on “Y&R’s” ratings. But I have to hope that the new headwriters will bring some joy to Genoa City.

Sami & E.J. of “Days”: Portrait of a Happy Couple

You know what’s fun to watch? A couple who has endured numerous internal and external obstacles, including a revolving door of headwriters and executive producers who did everything they could to keep them apart for no apparent reason, happily working together to battle their enemies.

I am speaking, of course, of Sami (Alison Sweeney) and E.J. (James Scott) of “Days of Our Lives.”

While Sami languished in jail for far too long trying to prove that she killed a dirty cop to prevent him for castrating her ex-husband, (hey, who hasn’t been there?), their current storyline is great pay-off for fans who spent the past six years rooting for them to be together. Finally, instead of fighting each other, they fought for each other.

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E.J. giving control of the family business back to his father, agreeing to live with him was a romantic sacrifice that set up a fun future storyline as the entire DiMera family lives together under one roof. This is how soaps are supposed to work: The resolution of one storyline creates another.

Sami hates the situation, but instead of breaking up with him, after initially blowing up, she appreciated the sacrifice he made for her. My only complaint is that on Thursday, E.J. said Stefano was selling the famous portrait of Sami and E.J. on eBay. It turned out to be just a funny line, not an opportunity for viewers to purchase the item. Yes, I checked.

It’s obvious that Margie, the dirty cop’s widow, is going to attempt to shoot Sami at her engagement party. But unlike the standard issue short-term soap psycho, she’s a three-dimensional character. It’s believable that she thinks Sami got away with murder because the 11th-hour revelation of evidence that cleared Sami was obviously shady.

Margie really has no reason to believe any of the allegations that her husband was cheating on her and taking money from Stefano. Frankly, Sami could have stopped Bernardi from harming Rafe by screaming at the top of her lungs or shooting him in the leg instead of in the chest. It was justifiable homicide, but it sure wasn’t self-defense.

For months we have seen her slowly unravel. Other than marrying the wrong guy, she didn’t do anything wrong. It’s easy to see how she could snap and resort to violent revenge. She is almost sympathetic.

I hope that the shooting will not stop Sami and E.J. from getting married, but whatever the fallout is, I feel confident that they will weather it together.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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