Is there any woman more hated amongst soap fans than Jill Farren Phelps? I think we would all agree that the answer to that is a very loud no. The legendary executive producer has helmed a record breaking 6 daytime shows and the majority of them are no longer on the air? Is it a coincidence? Not so much. It’s not that Phelps’ story telling is bad- in fact I’d say just the opposite. She is known for crazy twists and really pushing the envelope as far as daytime is concerned.
Way back in the late 80’s when Phelps was producing Santa Barbara she decided to have the shows heroine, Eden Capwell endure a brutal rape, by her gynecologist. Years later when Phelps had moved on to Another World she killed off a beloved character by the name of Frankie Frame Winthrop in what still is considered the most gruesome murder scene to play out on daytime television. When she dared to split up an old school “super couple” on One Life to Live the actress actually begged to be killed off rather than have her character morph into someone that the audiences would never believe in.
Jill has left a trail of wreckage from Santa Barbara, Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and Another World to the only show still standing after she was fired- General Hospital. Her work has garnered Emmy’s and rave reviews but those ratings still always plummet with her in control. Why is that? Because Jill has a method that ultimately fails every time. She fires fan favorites, totally disregards the years of character history that already exists and then brings in her favorite people to add to the shows canvas. It never, ever works. Shows don’t get canceled on her watch. She ends up out of a job and the new producer is left to try and save the ship that is already sitting near the bottom of the daytime sea, because the fans abandoned it and got hooked on something else instead.
Phelps took over at The Young and the Restless in the last year and for the first time in over a decade, it is not in first place in the ratings! Phelps has also fired favorite cast members and brought in people like Steve Burton whom she has a friendship with. It’s the same old thing, but why? I’m starting to wonder if the formula is more purposeful then we have realized. Could it be that Phelps is actually brought in to systematically kill the few remaining shows in the dying breed? I mean she has already alienated hard core Y&R fans and that seems to be the thing. Once you turn the audience away then the numbers fall and inevitably you’re looking at another daytime show getting the ax. Could it be that CBS is ready to see Y&R wind down for real? They know that Phelps will garner some awards and break new ground, all while putting the nails in another daytime coffin!
We know she’s like the angel of death, but could it be network dictated? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!