I have to wonder, if the top brass at The Young and the Restless would have handled the firing of Michael Muhney differently, if they had a crystal ball. Hindsight as foresight sure would have come in handy in this situation. Just to recap, in case you’ve somehow managed to miss the drama that seems to create a rift that gets a bit deeper with each passing day, Muhney was fired last month and shortly thereafter allegations of him harassing a fellow actor, Hunter King, were leaked to the press. Supposedly the head of CBS Daytime is married to someone at TMZ and well, the whole world found out after that in no time at all.
What has ultimately followed is an epic battle between fans of the show and those actively working for CBS or Y&R in some capacity. Some supporters of the show have held to the notion that if Muhney did indeed grope an actress then he needed to go, plain and simple and I think most of us would agree. If my co-worker makes a grab at me I’ll expect action because it’s necessary in this day and age to make it clear that the behavior cannot be tolerated. I don’t pretend to know what Muhney did or did not do but I am very clear on the fact that this issue is really no longer just about his firing.
Why are Y&R fans dropping off by the day and in a very public way? Because this incident follows several smaller, but equally painful firings that have left the most diehard of viewers not connecting to any of the characters onscreen. Hell, they themselves admit that they are fast-forwarding through many scenes to get to the good stuff. They have watched solid, beloved actors/actresses like Michelle Stafford, Genie Francis and Billy Miller be shoved out the door only to be replaced with characters that they don’t care about.
Jill Farren Phelps is the executive producer in charge of cast changes and she has a recipe that usually ends in disaster, yet she brings it to the table each and every time. By the time she is fired and my guess is that will be pretty soon given the current scandal that has been inappropriately handled, the show is going to be unrecognizable to remaining fans and irreparable for her replacement because they do not share her exact vision to being story lines full circle. Instead they will try to quickly repair what is broken and as we have seen in the past with shows like Another World or Santa Barbara, it doesn’t work.
The fans have turned on the show that used to feed them a nice dose of entertaining comfort five days a week. The fans are disgusted because they’ve watched their beloved characters leave the screen one after another in rapid succession. Many fans have been down this exact road before. I mean, how many of us have only watched one show? I’m a lot like many of you. I remember coming home from preschool and watching Another World with my mom, who herself started watching with her mother. I tuned back in when Anne Heche was there and stayed till the end. I was also keenly aware of other shows too. I get it. The pattern of decline is set and probably was the minute Jill set foot on the CBS lot. She was there to do damage and of course she has, and so this time, everyone is fighting back.
This time, Y&R fans are smarter and realize that it’s a whole lot easier to let go of something when you’re pissed off. Choosing to walk away from Y&R is an empowering move and it means that you’re pulling the plug on the show before you read somewhere online that CBS is doing it for you. Because ultimately, that is exactly what is happening here. A show cannot exist when the fans are hating on the cast and the fans can’t help but feel that if the cast is disloyal to each other – many in the Y&R cast are practically begging Muhney to speak up and save the show – ironic after they turned on him and gloated over his firing, isn’t it?
If the old guard really thought that this would just fade away at first I’m pretty positive that they totally get it now – it won’t. Perhaps they should have realized the strength in a solid fan base and I really hope that other genres are paying close attention to this and learning from it. You don’t disrespect the very people that your job depends on. It really is that simple and you fans have sent the message loud and clear to everyone at CBS.
How much longer will Y&R be on the air given the snowballing situation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!