Okay, I am really, really trying to be kinder to my soaps, with so many in such precarious states right now, but I have to call it like I see it. Genie Francis is embarrassingly-bad as kooky Genevieve Atkinson on The Young and the Restless.
I’m sure I will catch hell for going here about a daytime treasure, but Francis’ portrayal of Cane and Caleb’s (Daniel Goddard) unhinged mother has been cartoonish and abysmal from her first air show. I don’t know if Francis is painfully attempting to channel the late Elizabeth Taylor’s fun, campy turn as Luke and Laura’s arch nemesis Helena Cassadine on General Hospital 30 years ago, or going for Evil-Lyn from the old He-Man and The Masters of The Universe cartoon, but she’s missing the mark either way.
As much as I would love to solely blame this performance on the writing—because let’s face it, the story is dreadful—Francis is the one making the choices to jerk, gasp and wince as Genevieve registers each and every emotion or painful memory. This is not the Genie Francis we know and love.
Let's go back to the storyline for a second. So Cane, didn’t die, his never-before-mentioned twin brother, whom their father Colin (Tristan Rogers) brought to town to take Cane’s place, is the one who bit it on the steps? Now, at their odd, Oedipal mother’s behest, Cane is pretending to be Caleb, who is, at Colin’s behest, trying to drive Lily (Christel Khalil)—the love of Cane’s life—insane? The only one insane is whoever thought this would translate to anything resembling good television. Kudos to Goddard, Rogers and especially Khalil for doing their Herculean best to sell this drivel. It looks like we have three new nominees for the Kim Zimmer Award For Turning Shit to Sugar.
What is it about the writing team of Maria Arena Bell, Hogan Sheffer and Scott Hamner that they simply cannot help themselves when it comes to embarking on ridiculous, contrived front burner storylines? This regime does well when they mine the soap’s rich history and complicated relationships to give us character driven story, so why won't they do more of that? I am loving the Battle for Baby Lucy, Ashley vs. Kay and many other tales on the show, but the big story, the one getting all the press, being pimped in all the glossy magazines, is once again horrendous.
Genevieve: The Pervy-Odd Mob Mama is now part of a long line of really stupid front burner tales from MAB and Co. From turning Daytime Emmy winner Greg Rikkart (Kevin) into the missing member of Alvin and The Chipmunks, to “So Long, Sister Killer” to Sean Young’s ghastly guest stint, we continue to see evidence that MAB and her team are more interested in coming up with the next EW.com headline-grabbing stunt, complete with a big name guest star, than writing an actual soap opera for the fans who have kept Y&R at the top of the Nielsens for over 20 years.
TV industry pundits loves to cite more women 18-49 working outside the home whenever viewer erosion for soaps is discussed, and while we get that is a major factor, women started heading out into the workplace in droves during the late 70's. We fans, journos and bloggers in the trenches with this genre—who actually pay attention more than just when a soap is cancelled—realize terrible, dated, clichéd storytelling, which insults the remaining audience’s collective intelligence, is likely causing as many eyeballs to turn away from soaps as the shattering of the Glass Ceiling, if not more.
Daytime soaps are under seige. Y&R may be “Number 1”, but really, what will the station of being atop four soaps matter come January? All the “client soaps” are in danger of their current contracts being their lasts, so why won’t MAB and Co. go ahead and start listening to the fans now, before they find themselves on the chopping block, as opposed to desperately attempting to curry our favor when the show is given notice (Cough: Guiding Light)?
I am not saying soap writers should spend all their time on Daytime Confidential, Soap Opera Network or Daytime Royalty taking notes, but when a soap continues to piss fans off by telling wonky tales—that also cause the ratings to tank (So Long, Sister Killer indeed)—perhaps it’s at least worth noting that your very own, free online focus groups warned you a story sucked donkey nads all along?
Sidebar: At the risk of repeating myself, it makes absolutely no sense for Y&R to write out the soap’s biggest female star ever, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), claiming budget woes, while bringing on Genie Francis, who no doubt costs a pretty penny herself, only to have Francis wreck her daytime legacy with this laughable, over-the-top story.
This flawed move is especially glaring since Thomas Scott just turned in another Daytime Emmy worthy performance as Nikki fell off the wagon and ripped into her AA support group, before Victor (Eric Braeden) found her broken and emotionally bruised on a park bench. Give me a story like that over 10,000 doppelganger tales any day of the week.
I really want to stop ragging on Y&R, but first they have to stop making it so easy, and meet fans halfway. Genie, darling, there’s a new writer at GH, whom everyone says loves to write for women. Go home and give him a try. Maria/Sony/CBS bring Nikki Newman back like yesterday and we’ll try to forget this Genevieve madness ever happened.