Wow, there have certainly been a lot of changes on the show since the summer of 2022 when I last gave Y&R their midterm report card! These special review columns are typically planned to come out around Daytime Emmy season but, unfortunately, most award ceremonies are being put on hold due to the ongoing writers' and actors' strikes. Here at Soap Central, though, we're continuing with tradition (and giving our fearless leader, Dan, a much-needed break for a couple weeks) by preparing this special feature column for you again this year!
Before we get started, here are a couple of things to keep in mind about Y&R's 2023 Midterm Report Card:
1) I am writing this column a few weeks before it will be posted on the site, which means I will only be reviewing storylines/characters featured from January through July;
2) the grades I am handing out are solely based on the show's handling of the characters, so I mean no offense to any of the actors whose characters or storylines may receive lower grades (I love the cast)!
With those disclaimers out of the way, and without further ado, here is my Y&R Midterm Report Card for 2023:
Let's start out report card season on a nice note by giving accolades to some special guest appearances and special tribute episodes that we have been treated to so far this year. At the top of the list deserving an honorable mention is the Jerry Douglas/John Abbott tribute episode, which featured his real-life widow, Kym Douglas, in a cameo as Traci's book agent, Zelda. The flashbacks were a lot of fun, and it was nice to see the ever-sparring Abbotts have a few moments of peace as they remembered their late father. Beth Maitland (Traci) deserves a special shout-out for this episode -- and all her appearances so far this year, too! Traci has cemented herself as the heart of the Abbott family in John's absence, and any scenes we get to see her in are worth an honorable mention on my list!
I also want to give honorable mentions to the special returns of Amanda, Malcolm, and Leanna Love this year. Although their visits in Genoa City lasted only a few episodes, their presence brought a special element to the ongoing storylines they were involved in. As far as I'm concerned, these three are always welcome back in Genoa City!
Well, enough with the niceties! It's time to pass out some grades -- and I'll be handing out the "F's" first!
Borgnine (and Genoa City's pet problem)
This ill-fated feline never stood a chance with a name like Borgnine, did he? His name alone has earned him the first failing grade of 2023. My working theory is that the writers intentionally used this awful name for the kitty so that we wouldn't get too attached to him. After all, the writing was basically on the wall regarding the cat's fate when both he and Cameron showed up in town around the same time (even if I didn't see the deadly twist coming). In fact, I can't say that the murder of a cat was a storyline plot I thought I would ever see on Y&R. As much as I loved that "shock and awe" moment of surprise we got when we learned of his fate, the treatment of Borgnine -- and the larger pet problem in Genoa City -- earns Y&R a failing grade for the year!
This grade could really be given to soap operas in general because there is a serious lack of pet populations in soap opera towns. Realistically, most of these wealthy families that are featured in soaps (and even the blue-collar characters) would absolutely own a family pet or have a furry companion. I get it, though. It's probably a logistical nightmare trying to manage animals on a daytime set, so I understand that is a deterrent. Still, it would be great if they could find a way to feature pets more regularly in an attempt to brighten up viewers' days (rather than only using them for random plot points without putting in the work to make us care about them more first).
For example, how great would it have been to see Chelsea get an emotional support dog as part of her mental health recovery storyline? It would be fun to see the show think outside the box like this and bring us some fun moments with characters and their pets occasionally. If we do see more pets, let's just hope they don't all meet Borgnine's fate (and I'm not referring to his death -- I'm referring to his bad luck of being given an awful name)!
Jeremy Stank... er, Stark
As much as I loved James Hyde in the role of Jeremy Stark, his character's overall storyline arc this year was incredibly underwhelming. We were continuously told that we should be afraid of this man, but he seemed "all bark and no bite" once his character finally arrived in Genoa City. James Hyde's performance was the main thing that continued to keep Jeremy interesting as a character (even when much of the character development was lacking in the scripts). Toward the end of his character's run, we finally started to see a more villainous side to Jeremy as he kept Phyllis under his thumb and they ultimately fought to the death (his). However, even those improvements leading up to his demise cannot save his character from receiving a failing grade this year.
Missing in Action: Gloria; Jill; Esther; Danny; Noah and Allie
Where are these characters?! It's no wonder that Gloria, Jill, Esther, Noah, and Allie are all on my list of 2023 Flunk Outs, given how poor their attendance has been so far this year. We just recently learned that Michael is helping Gloria out of some legal trouble in Sweden, and we don't get to see any of the fun?! I get serious FOMO (fear of missing out) when I hear about her hijinks happening off-screen.
Hell, I'd even be happy if we could see Gloria as often as we see Jill (although that is not saying much). As fun as it is to see Jill pop up on a video call here and there, it is always so much more fun when she is actually in town and getting involved in everyone's business. I especially enjoyed her scenes with Sally and thought it would have been great to see her take on a mentor relationship with Sally, but, alas, it seems that is not meant to be. I just hope they aren't keeping Jill away because they don't know what storylines to write for her -- there is so much they can still do with her character. How fun would it be to see her and Esther interacting at the Chancellor-Winters offices? It would be a great way to feature both Jill and Esther in their best element -- at each other's throats and on each other's nerves!
While I sort of understand the absence of Gloria and Jill on the canvas at the moment, I was really confused by Noah and Allie's sudden disappearing act. Did the abrupt change in their storyline occur due to the changes on Y&R's writing team? I may be in the minority, but I was a fan of this couple and was looking forward to seeing what might be next for them as their new romance gained traction. But almost as quickly as they appeared in town last year, they have seemingly vanished this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll reappear before the end of 2023!
I'd also like to see more of Danny this year and maybe even a romantic reunion between him and Christine now that they are both single. Their scenes together in recent months have been exciting, and I'm starting to understand why they have such a following as a fan-favorite couple. They had been broken up for years by the time I started watching Y&R, so I have only ever seen them as friends (aside from the occasional flashback, of course). It would be good fan service to reunite them. But he'll need to get more screentime for that to happen, so, until then, Danny remains on the 2023 Flunk Outs list.
Mariah and Tessa (D-)
These two almost made my list of 2023 Flunk Outs because of their lack of attendance, er, screentime. However, because they have been featured slightly more than the rest of those flunkies, and because I have enjoyed most of their storyline developments this year, they are scraping by with a "D" grade. I hope they get a larger storyline in the coming months. Mariah working with Sharon, Nick, Adam, and Phyllis will certainly be interesting. And we desperately need to see Tessa doing something other than walking in and showing off the baby every few weeks.
Adam and Sally (D)
I don't even know where to start with these two. Those of you that read my Two Scoops column regularly know that I am a big fan of them as a couple. And you also know how frustrated I have been over how the show has handled their storyline. These two were definitely headed for earning an "A" grade with the pregnancy storyline and their possible reunion, but then they were pushed apart even further (as they so often are) when Adam was forced to choose between saving Sally's life or the life of their unborn baby. So, is it time for Adam/Sally fans to throw in the towel and accept defeat? It's certainly hard for this fan to keep up the faith and keep caring.
It pains me to put Phyllis on the "D List" because she is probably my favorite character, but she has really been off her game this year! The silver lining? Everything Phyllis has gone through has provided Michelle Stafford with a lot of great material to work with and she absolutely deserves an A+ grade for her portrayal of the character! Both the actress and the character have made 2023 very memorable, to say the least.
Phyllis did what she does best and behaved as though she were her own worst enemy, making one bad decision after the next. Phyllis let revenge consume her, and that left her blind to Jeremy and Tucker, as they both got the upper hand on her this year. Under normal circumstances, those two wouldn't stand a chance against her. But 2023 was no normal year for Phyllis because she spent much of her time on the run (and too often wearing terrible disguises) after having faked her death to frame Diane for her murder! The final decision of hers that assured her spot on the "D" List this year was the way she involved her children in her plot. She put Summer and Daniel in legal trouble that could have landed them behind bars; plus, Summer's involvement in Phyllis' cover-up cost her a heavy price now that Kyle seemingly wants to divorce her. For shame, Phyllis. For shame.
The "C" List: Billy and Chelsea; Michael and Lauren; Abby and Devon
I am enjoying all of these characters currently and like the direction their minor storylines have potential to go, but it's time to ramp things up for all of them a bit and give us something to root for about these couples again. Billy and Chelsea have a lot of promise as they continue to date, but there is just not a lot happening, and they are teetering on becoming boring again. Michael and Lauren are far from boring in general, which is why we need more of them on our screens! It's always a delight to see them pop up every now and again, but they deserve a storyline of their own again (together or separately). Perhaps they could play a major role in a B&B/Y&R crossover storyline tied to Sheila (yes, I asked for this last year, too, and I'm still patiently waiting)!
Speaking of waiting patiently, I have been hoping for an Abby/Devon pairing since Emme Rylan was in the role of Abby, so I am thrilled that they are finally beyond the "friends stage"! The show is taking a nice pace with them, but like the other couplings mentioned here on the "C" List, there isn't much happening. I like how they are getting involved in Ashley and Tucker's storyline, but I don't want to see them just become side characters in another plot. I'm hoping their move into the Chancellor mansion will breathe some new life into their storyline and lead to something new for them. These "C Listers" all deserve more than the show is giving them right now.
Blink-and-You'll-Miss-Them Storylines (C+)
Just like the characters here on the "C List," some storylines had a lot of potential but wrapped up far too quickly and left us wanting more (or had us scratching our heads and wondering why the show even went there in the first place). The storylines earning this grade on Y&R's report card this year are Jack and Diane's jewel heist; Fenmore's sexual orientation surprise; and the return of Cameron Kirsten. All these storylines needed much more time to be fleshed out in order to have the impact that the show wanted them to have.
Jack and Diane's attempt to frame Jeremy for stealing jewels from the Newmans could have been an interesting storyline. Unfortunately, the whole thing played out in less than a week's time, and most of the action occurred off-screen. Fenmore's "coming out" storyline suffered the same disservice; in fact, can it even be considered a storyline if it all went down in one episode? It's so disappointing when everything important or fun about a storyline happens off-screen and viewers just learn about it after the fact. For some reason, Y&R went with a "less is more" approach on a few storylines, and they didn't really work out so well. Just think how much more exciting the jewelry heist and frame job could have been if we had actually seen it all play out on our screens!
As for Fenmore, I think he was a good choice for a gay character (or is he bisexual?), but my feelings are torn about the way we learned about his sexuality. On the one hand, I love that it was seemingly no big deal and that there was no big drama about him having a boyfriend with him when he visited town. That's actually pretty great! On the other hand, though, I feel robbed of not learning about his sexuality along with his parents because I think the scenes would have been fantastic. Given that Christian Le Blanc (Michael) is gay in real life, it would have been touching and poignant to allow him to act through that emotional moment with his on-screen son. Is that too much to ask for?
I hate to put the Cameron Kirsten storyline here on the "C List," but it, too, suffered from rushed storytelling. I liked the potential of this storyline so much, and it had everything going for it to earn an "A" on this report card. But ultimately, I had to hit it with a "C" because of how quickly it ramped up and then abruptly ended. Cameron is a great villain that could have caused terror and panic on the canvas for months, but instead, he practically went off the deep end right away and started murdering cats and strapping bombs onto young women! This story had all the right beats and was one of the most entertaining and promising plots of the year, but unfortunately, it just ended up leaving me wanting more (in a dissatisfied way).
Nate and Victoria; Kyle and Summer (B-)
Let's start with Kyle and Summer because they only made it on to the "B" list -- just barely. They were somewhat boring and in the background for most of the year until Phyllis' "death" shook things up for them. But they've recently started to get really interesting again now that they are separated. I understand that these two look good as a couple on paper, but they have both always been more interesting apart. I would love for them to become close friends over time and have each other to lean on, but I'm hoping a reconciliation is not what the writer(s?) has in mind. Kyle and Audra have been one of the most interesting parts of the show lately, so I'm hoping we'll continue to see more of them. Summer and Chance, though... I'm not sure about that potential pairing they've been teasing us with lately. Summer may have found it endearing that Chance was a Boy Scout, but in reality, she should really be with a man who is less of a Boy Scout and accepts that she is probably going to break the rules sometimes. But who knows? Opposites do attract!
Nate and Victoria have been one of the highlights of the year for me, so I'm happy to place them on the "B" list. I know they are not everyone's favorite because they don't like that their relationship started as an affair while Nate was still with Elena, but you can't deny that they have both kept the show very interesting this year! They have a little room for improvement before they are ready to earn their "A" grade, but I'm liking where they are headed and think they could be one of Genoa City's great power couples. They don't rely on one another to make their characters interesting, and when they are in scenes together, they both take center stage. Their chemistry reminds me of other great Newman couples like Nick and Sharon, and Victor and Nikki, so I hope the writer(s?) doesn't waste their long-term potential. They are still in the dating stage and haven't even fallen in love yet, so I can only imagine how much more intense and entertaining this duo will become as their emotional connection continues to deepen. I'm hoping they make my "A" list on next summer's midterm!
Chance; Elena; Heather; Lucy (B)
I don't have much to say about these folks individually because they haven't really been featured a whole lot this year. Chance and Elena we've seen a little bit more of than Heather and Lucy, but all four of them have shined this year, and I've really enjoyed their characters. The actress they got to portray Daniel's daughter, Lucy, was a nice addition to the cast, and it was fun getting to know her now that she's a teenager. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her, and I hope we continue to see more of Heather, too! I keep crossing my fingers for the day that she and Adam run into one another while she is in town. Maybe Sally will pay more attention to Adam again if she sees him start to hang out with his ex! I'm writing this column at the beginning of August, and I'm gonna keep all my fingers and toes crossed until this column is posted in mid-August in hopes that it helps us to have gotten at least one Adam/Heather scene by the time you are reading this! I'll report back on the condition of my appendages in my next Two Scoops column at the end of the month...
As for Chance and Elena (hmmm... could they be a good coupling?), I've liked the direction their stories have taken this year, but the problem is that they both have felt like supporting characters in storylines that they are very much a major part of. For most of the year, we have only seen Chance in his detective role, and he has not had a real storyline for himself. He became the supporting character in Abby and Devon's storyline and only recently began to get more screentime when he started dating Sharon (and flirting with Summer). I'm very curious to see where his character turns up by the end of the year. Which blonde will he be with by then?
But enough about Chance. Let's chat about how great Elena is! Much like Kyle and Summer, Elena and Nate have been far more interesting apart than they ever were together. I've been clamoring for Nate and Elena to break up for a while now, and I was very happy with how well the writing was handled for Elena's character. She was never a doormat, she stood up for herself, and we got to see her call out Nate on his bad behavior. I may be a Nate and Victoria fan, but I am also very much an Elena fan. In fact, I'm a Brytni Sarpy fan and have been since I first saw her on General Hospital years ago. I just really hope the show realizes her potential and continues to give Elena good storylines because she currently has no real direction. Whatever happened to that podcast she was trying to start with J.T....? Let's pick that storyline back up ASAP, please! And let's hope they throw a good man Elena's way soon, too (Nick, perhaps?)!
Victor and Nikki (B+)
While these two haven't really had their own major storyline per se, I appreciate how much they are woven into the fabric of the show and are very much still a presence in a number of storylines. I know that Eric Braeden (Victor) has had some health scares this year, but you wouldn't know it when you see Victor continuing to command the screen (and his family) every week! Melody Thomas Scott is always a joy to watch as Nikki, too, and I've enjoyed how much she's been involved with Newman Enterprises these last couple of years. Sure, Victor needs to loosen up a little bit when it comes to controlling his grown children's lives, but let's just enjoy the drama that he causes by doing so in the meantime!
Abbott Family War (A-)
This year has seen the Abbotts warring with one another yet again -- and that has been a big win for viewers! Adding Susan Walters back into the mix as Diane was a great idea last year, and her return continues to pay off this year. While it would be nice if everyone could just get along, that wouldn't make for very entertaining television; so, instead, it's been fun to see Jack and Ashley on opposing sides of a family war again. Telling a story like this that includes all the members of the Abbott family was a great approach to take. We've gotten to see more of Traci, Billy is finally being treated as a legitimate Abbott (instead of always being kept at a distance and treated like the black sheep of the family), and Jack and Ashley have found love (and neither one of them is happy about their sibling's chosen romantic partner). It's been nice to see Abby pulled into the story, too, and championing her mother to fight for love more than anything else. But will Ashley listen to her daughter? One thing is for certain -- the holidays at the Abbott household will certainly be interesting this year!
I'm so glad that the show didn't toss Audra away when the storyline she was involved in at Chancellor-Winters climaxed. Zuleyka Silver has been outstanding in the role and has really given us a character to root for. On the surface, some may think that Audra is mean, but in reality, she is just very blunt and tells people what is on her mind -- and I'm here for it! She didn't make the "A+ All Stars" list this year, though, because of the recent revelation that she helped Tucker cover up that one of their PR teams ignored multiple statutory rapes that one of their musical artists was engaging in with young girls on their tour. Not a good look, Audra -- but I'm sure you'll find a way to come out on top!
Lily and Daniel (A)
I'm so thrilled to have Daniel back in town and involved in so many storylines this year. He has always been one of my favorite characters, and I love his romance with Lily. I have always thought they belonged together, ever since they first got together as teenagers, so this is a great "full circle" moment for them -- and for viewers! They have really good screen chemistry, and it's nice to see them both finding some happiness after all they've been through recently.
50th Anniversary Gala (A)
You'll have to check out my Two Scoops column "Prepare for the worst" to get my full review on the week worth of episodes that spanned the 50th anniversary gala earlier this year, but in a nutshell, I thought it was great (and well deserving of an "A" grade). This is when Phyllis and Jeremy's storyline was at its most interesting. The tension of not knowing what was going to happen to Diane was a fun thrill while enjoying everything else that was going on at the gala. The other great part about those episodes was the returns that we got treated to! I've mentioned a few of them already in this column, but I want to give a shout-out to those I haven't: Nina, Gina, and Mamie. It was so fun to see them all mixing it up with Genoa City's elite again, and including them was a great way to honor the legacy they've all left on the show throughout the years.
Linden Ashby (Cameron) really came in and did that! He was so good slipping back into the role of creepy Cameron, and it was a shame that we only got him on our screens for about a month. Although I'm not happy with how quickly he came and went, both the character and the actor deserve this A+ for how exciting they made the show this year! Cameron deserved to die, but I just wish it hadn't happened so quickly.
I didn't even realize how much I'd missed seeing Christine around Genoa City recently until we started to get more and more of her again this year. Having her involved in the Phyllis storyline was a great idea, and as much as I would love to see Doug Davidson (Paul) back on the show working alongside her, I'm glad that she and Paul have broken up if it means she is free to have her own storylines again. I really liked the few scenes we've seen her share with Danny when he's been in town this year, too, and I hope that a romantic reunion is planned for these two soon. Maybe even a Christine/Danny/Traci triangle?
This has been quite the year for Sharon! She didn't have much going on during the start of the year, but she certainly made up for it since then. Once Cameron started tormenting her again, we were treated to some outstanding performances by Sharon Case (Sharon). She's always great in her scenes, but when she got that heavy material revisiting the trauma that Cameron brought to her life and fearing for what he would do next, it was hard to turn away from her, and she left viewers wanting more (in a satisfied way). Her new romance with Chance is pretty cute, but, like Adam, I think she and Nick will inevitably end up back together.
What can I say about the guy? He's trying to make peace at Newman Enterprises, he's trying to form a relationship with Adam (for the most part), he defended his family from a psychopath (again), and he's doing his best to make Sally happy (even though I'm not a fan of their coupling). He's just an overall good guy when you get right down to it (even if he can come across as a bit holier-than-thou sometimes). I'm really liking Nick so far this year, and I'm interested to see where his storyline goes (as long as it is the opposite direction of Sally). I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of a potential pairing between him and Elena, and I think that could be a fun storyline for both him and her if the writer(s?) goes there. Whatever they do with him, let's hope they keep writing him well and continue to keep him likeable, because Joshua Morrow (Nick) shines as the hero.
Ashley and Tucker
I've definitely saved the best for last here, folks. How great have these two been this year?! Ashley and Tucker have been the highlight of 2023 for me. I loved how Ashley stayed firm in making Tucker work hard to win her back. You could literally feel the torture Tucker was going through as he tried to win her back and get her to fall back in love with him. It's nice that in this second half of the year, we are seeing them more as a stable couple. Trevor St. John (Tucker) is a delight in literally all his scenes -- with anyone! I hope this latest scandal regarding the statutory rape coverup doesn't tarnish his character too much, because Y&R is on a great roll with him otherwise.
Well, that's nearly the end of my Y&R report card for this half-year in review. There's just one thing left to do, which is to give the show an overall grade for 2023 so far. It looks like the "A's" have it again this year, as I seem to have handed out the most of those. Similar to my thoughts during last year's midterm report card, though, the show probably more accurately deserves a "B" as their overall grade because there are definitely some improvements needed. But overall, I'm happy with and entertained by the show, so I'm satisfied with giving it an overall "A-." I'm sure many of you might disagree with some of the grades I handed out, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts, so don't hesitate to share the grades you would have handed out. Whether you agree with my grades or not, you know what to do -- hit those Comments and let me know what you think!
I'll see you next time for our regularly scheduled column. Take care!
What are your thoughts on The Young and the Restless? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.