Posts Tagged ‘The Young and the Restless’


Caitlin McCarthy received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College. An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has two feature films in development: “Resistance” with Populus Pictures; and “Wonder Drug” with actor/producer Alysia Reiner. In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school.

A SOAPY LIFE by Caitlin McCarthy

The Great Aunts

 In 1974, when I was 4-years-old, the TV became my babysitter. Now don’t worry – I wasn’t planted in front of a TV all by myself.  My great-aunts were right there with me, watching the entire CBS soap opera line-up. My parents both worked during the day, so my friend Michael’s mother would drop me off at my great-aunts’ house after nursery school. I had quite the set-up: a little chair before a marble coffee table, where I ate lunch and watched TV at the same time. My great-aunts surrounded me like guardian angels on the couch. Even Bijoux, my Great-Aunt Lulu’s beloved French Poodle, had a perch – the La-Z-Boy recliner – where he watched the soaps with his “missy.”

First Communion: Caitlin and sister Erin, 1974

The afternoon would kick off with “The Young and the Restless” and end with “Guiding Light,” which my great-aunts (born in the late 1800s) had started following when it was just a radio show in 1937. When the music for GL’s end credits started, my great-aunts would turn off the TV, put on an Engelbert Humperdinck record, and then discuss the various shows at length.

This was my first master class in storytelling. I learned about character motivation, storyline development, plot critique – you name it. No wonder I became a writer later in life.  I was surrounded by characters, both on and off screen.

Great-Aunt Lulu was, by far, the biggest character in my family. Of Acadian descent, she dated a fellow French-American named Napoleon for 25 years. Uncle Nap died 10 years after they married.

Great Aunt Lulu with Bijoux

Childless, Great-Aunt Lulu treated her French Poodle Bijoux like a baby, sewing outfits for him and giving him a rhinestone collar long before bling came about. She refused to feed him dog food or let him eat of a bowl. Instead, she would place him on the La-Z-Boy recliner, tie a bib around his neck, and feed him a specially prepared “gruel” with a spoon. The poor thing hated having the spoon shoved into his mouth. But he developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome and only had eyes for his missy. He growled and snapped at everyone else, especially if they dared to sit on *his* La-Z-Boy.

The real-life characters weren’t limited to my great-aunts.  My neighborhood in Worcester, Massachusetts was filled with them. (more…)

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eric-braedenLet’s talk TV. Was anyone else sitting virtual vigil at the deathbed of Victor Newman, hero/villian of CBS’s top-rated THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS? Stellar writer and fellow Soap addict Suzanne Strempek Shea mourns A GUIDING LIGHT EXTINGUISHED in her excellent elegiac essay.

Sources now say Victor (aka Eric Braedon) really won’t walk out on his worldwide fans due to a pay cut. But with even top-rated Y&R forced to cut costs, with ratings in decline, Soaps face death by Reality TV. Maybe our endless supply of fresh ‘celebrities in disgrace’ is to blame. Are we all so addicted to real-life scandals we no longer thrill to made-up ones?

I for one can’t stomach Reality TV or revived game shows: too damn depressing. I can’t watch more than a few minutes without wondering queasily: who ARE these people? What Balloon-Boy-size case of Attention Desiring Disorder drove them to such extremes? Why is everyone following low-class real-life jerks like Jon Gosselin rather than classy larger-than-life jerks like Victor Newman? But maybe there’s something I’m missing in Reality-TV-land. Clue me in.

Which Reality shows do you watch?  Dancing With Stars? Real Housewives (I prefer the Desperate ones)? The new (do we really need a new) Let’s Make a Deal? What’s the fascination– and, Victor or no Victor, can Soaps survive?

PS: thanks to Caitlin for this cool link on Roger Thorpe on “Guiding Light” PPS: And thanks to Mark for further insight into fame-seeking/Attention Desiring Disorder.
photo: Eric Braedon, the one and only Victor Newman: NNDB.com

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