For more than four decades, The Young and the Restless has been on the air. Characters and storylines have changed over the years. Some have ranked “unbelievable” even by soap opera standards. Still, the daytime series was ahead of its time when showing one prominent character doing PG-13 level thing.
Why ‘The Young and the Restless’ still holds the most viewers on average
Few daytime soaps have aged in the way The Young and the Restless has. Some only aired a short time and others didn’t make it at all. The CBS hit manages to stay on top for a few reasons: good storytelling, compelling characters, and a legacy that outlasts the cast and crew.
While the coronavirus pandemic caused nearly everything to shut production down, Y&R tapped into their strengths to navigate the muddied waters. The network chose to focus on a different theme each week, playing encore presentations of past episodes.
The risk paid off as TV Series Finale showed Y&R remains on top with ratings among the 18-49 women demographic for the 2019-2020 season. As one of only four remaining soaps on TV, Y&R continues to soar.
Another reason the soap is still relevant is its ability to pioneer new topics. One of which involves a star who’s still very much a part of the show.
The PG-13 move one ‘Y&R’ star made for daytime TV
Melody Thomas Scott has been on The Young and the Restless almost as long as its inception. Before joining the cast, Scott had a blossoming career that began with modeling in childhood, followed by roles in projects like Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie.
Scott was 22 years old when she landed the role of Nikki. However, the role began as something a little more risque with Scott playing a stripper — one of the first on TV.
“Bill Bell [Y&R‘s creator and head writer] originally wanted it to be mud wrestling, and then the network nixed that, so she became a stripper. I was around 24 years old and very uncomfortable with it,” Scott told CBS.
“I never felt that I was a good dancer, and suddenly I was dressed up on this stage and having to do these choreographed numbers. Every week we did a new strip. If we were to watch that now, it would be so tame. I was wearing pantyhose!”
The interesting way Scott was cast for the role
With how long Scott has played Nikki, it feels like the role was created just for her. However, she’s not the first one to play the part.
“I remember the talent test more than I remember the first day. I was an emergency recast,” she said. There was another Nikki (Erica Hope) before me and the same week I got the role, I landed a sitcom on TV — and I wanted to do the sitcom!”
Thankfully, her agent talked her out of the sitcom.
“She said, ‘I want you to do Y&R for a while,” Scott told Global TV. “‘Even though it’s a three-year contract, we can get you out before that if something comes up.'”
The pilot for that sitcom never sold but Scott held a multi-decade career as one character.
“I had never seen an episode of the show, and I had no idea what I was getting into. But I think the talent test was on a Friday, and then I heard on Monday that I had to start work on Tuesday,” she added.
And the rest is history. Catch The Young and the Restless weekdays on CBS.