To compete with the youthful ABC soap operas, All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital, CBS executives wanted a new daytime serial that was youth oriented. William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell created The Young and the Restless in 1972 for the network under the working title, The Innocent Years! "We were confronted with the very disturbing reality that young America had lost much of its innocence," Bell said. "Innocence as we had known and lived it all our lives had, in so many respects, ceased to exist." They changed the title of the series to The Young and the Restless because they felt it "reflected the youth and mood of the early seventies." The Bells named the fictional setting for the show after the real Genoa City, Wisconsin, which was located on their way from their then-home in Chicago to their annual summer vacation spot in Lake Geneva.
The Young and the Restless began airing on March 26, 1973, replacing the canceled soap opera, Where the Heart Is. Bell worked as head writer from the debut of the series until his retirement in 1998. He wrote from his home in Chicago while production took place in Los Angeles, California. Originally, Bell wanted to shoot the series in New York, however, CBS executives felt that Los Angeles would be more cost effective. John Conboy acted as the show's first executive producer, staying in the position until 1982. Bell and H. Wesley Kenney became co-executive producers that year until Edward Scott took over in 1989. Bell then became senior executive producer. Other executive producers included David Shaughnessy, John F. Smith, Lynn Marie Latham, Josh Griffith, Maria Arena Bell, and Paul Rauch.
In the mid-1980s, Bell and his family moved to Los Angeles to create a new soap opera. During this time, his three children, William Jr., Bradley, and Lauralee Bell, each became involved in soap operas. Lauralee Bell worked as an actress on The Young and the Restless. Bradley Bell co-created The Bold and the Beautiful with his father. William Bell Jr. became involved in the family's production companies as president of Bell Dramatic Serial Co. and Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. "It's worked out very well for us because we really all worked in very different aspects of the show," William Bell Jr. said. "With my father and I, it was a great kind of partnership and pairing in the sense that he had a total control of the creative side of the show and I didn't have even the inclination to interject in what he was doing."
After William J. Bell's 1998 retirement, a number of different head writers took over the position, including Kay Alden, Trent Jones, John F. Smith, Lynn Marie Latham, Scott Hamner, Josh Griffith, Maria Arena Bell, and Hogan Sheffer.
In 2012, former General Hospital executive producer Jill Farren Phelps was hired as the new executive producer of the soap, replacing Bell. Griffith was also named the sole head writer. On August 15, 2013, it was speculated and reported by several online sources that Griffith had resigned as head-writer of the serial. Further speculation adds that Shelly Altman may take over as the new scribe, alongside Tracey Thomson or Jean Passanante may be brought aboard as co-head scribe. On September 12, 2013, it was announced that Passanante and Altman were named head writers of the show, with Thomson promoted to co-head writer.
On September 18, 2014, former All My Children, General Hospital and Santa Barbara head writer Charles Pratt, Jr. was named as the new head writer of the show. Passanante, Altman and Thomson have been demoted to breakdown writers. Pratt was also named as co-executive producer sharing the credit with Phelps. On June 7, 2016, Serial Scoop announced that Phelps had been terminated from her position as executive producer; a replacement was not named at the time of their reporting. The following morning, Sony Pictures Television confirmed to several media outlets that Phelps had been let go from her position; British television producer Mal Young was announced as Phelps' replacement. Phelps' last appearance as executive producer was July 12, 2016, while Young's first appearance occurred the following day on July 13. On September 13, 2016, it was announced that Pratt was named as executive producer and show-runner of Lee Daniels' Star. The same day, Daytime Confidential revealed that former Generations and Days of Our Lives head writer Sally Sussman, who previously had positions with the show, such as Associate Head Writer, was in-talks to replace Pratt as Head Writer. On September 15, 2016, it was confirmed that Sussman was named as the soap's new head writer.
On September 21, 2016, Daytime Confidential reported that after ten years since leaving the soap, Alden had been re-hired to be a story consultant under Sussman's regime. Sussman's tenure as head writer began taping on October 20, 2016, and began airing on December 7, 2016.
Taped at CBS Television City, studios 41 and 43 in Hollywood since its debut on March 26, 1973, the show was packaged by the distribution company Columbia Pictures Television, which has now been replaced by Sony Pictures Television. The Young and the Restless originally aired as a half-hour series on CBS and was the first soap opera to focus on the visual aspects of production, creating "a look that broke with the visual conventions of the genre." Similar to the radio serials that had preceded them, soap operas at the time primarily focused on dialogue, characters, and story, with details like sets as secondary concerns. The Young and the Restless stood out by using unique lighting techniques and camera angles, similar to Hollywood-style productions. The style of videotaping included using out-of-the-ordinary camera angles and a large number of facial close-ups with bright lighting on the actors' faces. Conboy said he used lighting to create "artistic effects". Those effects made the series look dark, shadowy, and moody. The Young and the Restless' look influenced the taping styles of other soap operas. When H. Wesley Kenney replaced Conboy as executive producer, he balanced the lighting of the scenes.
Due to the success of the series, CBS and their affiliates pressured Bell to lengthen the series from 30 minutes to a full hour. Bell attributed this change to the show's fall from number one in the Nielsen ratings, since the lengthening of the show led to the departure of a number of cast members. "The issue of performing in a one-hour show had not been part of their contracts," Bell said. This forced the show to recast multiple main characters and eventually phase out the original core families in favor of new ones. The show expanded to one hour on February 4, 1980. It airs at 12:30pm ET/11:00am CT/PT, although some stations opt to air it at 11:30am CT.
Exteriors used in the late 1980s and early 1990s (and reused years later) included locations in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including Allegheny General Hospital, One Oxford Centre, the Duquesne Club, Hampton Township and the prison. Phillip Chancellor died in the Richland, Pennsylvania area, where the police chief was not told and believed the accident really happened.
On June 27, 2001, The Young and the Restless became the first daytime soap opera to be broadcast in high-definition. In September 2011, its sister soap The Bold and the Beautiful became the last soap to make the transition from SD to HD before All My Children ended its ABC run on September 23, 2011 and began its TOLN run online on April 29, 2013. On April 24, 2006, SoapNet began airing same-day episodes of the series. The final airing on SoapNet was on June 28, 2013. The soap has moved from SoapNet to TV Guide Network. The same day episodes begin airing on TVGN (now Pop) weeknights on July 1, 2013.
Co-creators William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell centered The Young and the Restless around two core families, the wealthy Brooks' and the poor Fosters. Bell borrowed this technique of soap opera building from his mentor, Irna Phillips.
While casting for the series, Bell and executive producer John Conboy auditioned 540 actors for the 13 main characters. They assembled the youngest group of actors ever cast on a soap opera at the time, hiring mostly unknown actors who they considered "glamorous model types". Chemistry between actors also factored into the criteria for casting. The stories focused on the younger characters, with an emphasis in fantasy. The fantasy element was reflected in the love story between Jill Foster and the millionaire Phillip Chancellor II; the Leslie Brooks, Brad Elliot, and Lorie Brooks love triangle; and Snapper Foster's romance with Chris Brooks.
Sexuality also played a major role in the stories. Formerly, soap operas did not delve into the sexual side of their romances. Bell changed that, first during his time as head writer of Days of Our Lives and again on The Young and the Restless. William Gray Espy's Snapper Foster is considered the "first to discover sex on a soap opera." During the story, the character is engaged to Chris Brooks (Trish Stewart) and having a sexual relationship with Sally McGuire (Lee Crawford). Other plots reflected sexual themes as well. For the first time in the genre, the dialogue and the story situations included explicit sexual themes such as premarital intercourse, impotence, incest, and rape. The series also explored social issues. Jennifer Brooks underwent the first mastectomy on a soap opera. Other social issue storylines included bulimia, alcoholism, and cancer. Lesbianism was also touched on with Katherine Chancellor, who flirts with Jill while drunk in 1974 and has a brief relationship with Joann Curtis (Kay Heberle) in 1977.
When the series lengthened from a half-hour to an hour in 1980, multiple cast members who portrayed characters from the original core families departed because their contracts only bound them to performing in a half-hour show. A number of the characters were recast until one of the few remaining original actors, Jaime Lyn Bauer, who portrayed Lorie Brooks, decided to leave. When she announced her intention not to renew her contract, Bell decided to replace the original core families. "As I studied the remaining cast, I realized I had two characters- Paul Williams, played by Doug Davidson, and Jack Abbott, played by Terry Lester- both of whom had a relatively insignificant presence on the show," Bell said. "They didn't have families. Hell, they didn't even have bedrooms. But these became the two characters I would build our two families around."
The characters from the Johnson and Williams families were integrated into the series while the Brooks and Foster families, with the exception of Jill, were phased out. The continuity of the feud between Jill and Katherine, which began in the early years of the show, smoothed the transition. The relationship between the two characters remained a central theme throughout the series and became the longest lasting rivalry in daytime history.
Another character introduced in the 1980s was Eric Braeden's Victor Newman. Originally, the character was "a despicable, contemptible, unfaithful wife abuser" who was intended to be killed off. Braeden's tenure on the show was meant to last between eight and twelve weeks. "When I saw Eric Braeden's first performance- the voice, the power, the inner strength- I knew immediately that I didn't want to lose this man," Bell said. "He was exactly what the show needed. Not the hateful man we saw on-screen, but the man he could and would become." Bell rewrote the story to save the character and put Braeden on contract. Victor's romance with Nikki Reed became a prominent plot in the series.
With the success of another iconic character, Kimberlin Brown's Sheila Carter, Bell made daytime drama history in 1992 by successfully crossing her over from The Young and the Restless to his second soap, The Bold and the Beautiful. The success of the crossover was due, in part, to the creativity of Bell, as the nefarious character of Sheila was presumed to have died in a fire on The Young and the Restless.
In the 1980s, core black characters were introduced with the Barber and Winters families. Victoria Rowell (Drucilla Barber) and Tonya Lee Williams (Dr. Olivia Barber) were cast as the nieces of the Abbott's maid, Mamie Johnson, in 1990. The brothers Neil (Kristoff St. John) and Malcolm Winters (Shemar Moore) were introduced as love interests for Olivia and Drucilla. The Young and the Restless became popular among black viewers, which Williams and St. John attributed to the writing for the black characters. "I play a CEO at a major corporation, that's something we don't see that often," St. John said. "And the show doesn't use the old African-American stereotypes that we have been seeing on TV, like the hustler, the pimp, the drug dealer. We have come a long way." Though the characters held prominent positions in the fictional work place of Genoa City, they had little interaction with other characters outside of their jobs.
The serial has won 116 Daytime Emmys, along with 360 nominations. The following list summarizes awards won by The Young and the Restless:2006 "Hall of Fame Inductee" Eric Braeden (Victor Newman)
2003 "Best Daytime Serial" Written by Kay Alden, Trent Jones, John F. Smith, Jerry Birn, Jim Houghton, Natalie Minardi, Janice Ferri, Eric Freiwald, Joshua McCaffrey, Michael Minnis, Rex M. Best
2006 "Best Daytime Serial" Written by Kay Alden, John F. Smith, Janice Ferri, Jim Houghton, Natalie Minardi Slater, Sally Sussman Morina, Sara Bibel, Eric Freiwald, Linda Schreiber, Joshua S. McCaffrey, Marc Hertz, Sandra Weintraub
2008 "Best Daytime Serial" Written by Lynn Marie Latham, Scott Hamner, Bernard Lechowick, Cherie Bennett, Jeff Gottesfeld, Jim Stanley, Natalie Minardi Slater, Lynsey Dufour, Marina Alburger, Sara Bibel, Sandra Weintraub
In Belize, Channel 5 Great Belize Television airs the soap, while rival Channel 7 Tropical Vision Limited also airs the soap.
In Canada, the Global Television Network airs new episodes a day ahead of the US broadcast. Most Global stations use The Young and the Restless as a late-afternoon lead-in for their local newscasts, but times vary by market. It also airs on NTV in Newfoundland and Labrador which airs the program on a same-day-as-CBS basis.
In Jamaica, the show airs on CVMTV.
In Trinidad, the show airs weekdays on CBS and has been airing in Trinidad since the 1980s. In 1988, 70 percent of Trinidadians who had access to a television watched daily episodes of The Young and the Restless, a series that emphasized family problems, sexual intrigue, and gossip.
In Australia, The Young and the Restless airs after Days of Our Lives on Arena. It previously aired on the Nine Network from April 1, 1974 to February 23, 2007, before joining the W line-up on April 2, 2007, to August 17, 2012, On July 20, 2012, it was announced that the show would move to Arena on August 20, 2012, after W rebranded as SoHo. Episodes are approximately seven months behind those airing in the US at present.
In New Zealand, The Young and the Restless aired alongside Days of Our Lives on TV ONE and ended on November 6, 2009. The soap was approximately four seasons behind the CBS season due to being preempted by holiday and sporting programming.
In the Philippines, aired from 1987 to 1989 on ABS-CBN.
In the United Kingdom, The Young and The Restless has aired on many TV channels starting in 1990, when episodes from 1987 debuted on BSB Galaxy in a regular weekday timeslot. When BSB merged with Sky in November 1990, the soap moved to Sky's flagship channel Sky One and aired at 11:00 weekdays until the end of 1992. When BSB's original three-year contract to air the soap expired, Sky chose not to renew it. In 1993, Y&R was picked up by UK Living (then known as simply Living, now Sky Living) in a primetime timeslot, picking up where Sky left off. This lasted until late 1995. In 2007, Zone Romantica, now CBS Drama began broadcasting the show weekdays [four years behind US]. In 2009, when CBS went into partnership with and took over the Chellozone Channels the show was relegated to just one showing a day [in favor of repeating shows such as Dynasty and Dallas in the daytime]. It was attracting around 18–20,000 viewers at midnight in the last week of its broadcast in the UK in August 2010.
In India, the show began airing in February 2007 on Zee Café. The channel started with episodes from 2004.
In South Africa, the show airs on e.tv. The show was originally aired in South Africa in the early 1990s, dubbed into the Afrikaans language, and entitled 'Rustelose Jare' (Restless Years). In 1999 The Young and the Restless was canceled but the show returned to South African television screens in June 2004, with no overhead foreign translations. As of June 2014, episodes are screened nine months behind the US. Because of "continual viewing" with no breaks, South African audiences will catch up with the US broadcast by mid-2016.
"Nadia's Theme" has been the theme music of The Young and the Restless since the show's debut in 1973. The melody, originally titled "Cotton's Dream", was composed by Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr. for the 1971 theatrical film Bless the Beasts and Children. The melody was later renamed "Nadia's Theme" after the ABC television network's sports summary program Wide World of Sports lent the music for a montage of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci's routines during the 1976 Summer Olympics; despite the title, Nadia never performed her floor exercises using this piece of music. Instead, she used a piano arrangement of a medley of the songs "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" and "Jump in the Line."
Botkin wrote a rearranged version of the piece specifically for The Young and the Restless' debut. The song remained unchanged, save for a slight remix in 1988 and a three-year stint in the early 2000s (decade), when an alternate, more jazzy arrangement of that tune was used, using portions of the longer closing version of the original theme.
An LP album was published in 1976 by A&M Records. The track list contains two titles of the French composer Michel Colombier, Rainbow and Emmanuel, a success track which he wrote in memory of the death of his son.
In late September and early October 2012, upon the show's 10,000th episode, the current form of opening credits were updated. In the years prior, fans criticized them for their lack of updates and cast additions (some contract players, such as Adrienne Frantz, and Kimberlin Brown came and went without being added).
In mid-February 2017, the current form of opening credits were updated to honor the history on CBS Daytime and to carry them into the future as they approach the 44th anniversary.
As of 2010, The Young and the Restless has managed over 1,000 consecutive weeks in the #1 spot for daytime dramas. On the week ending April 6, 2012, The Young and the Restless was watched by a new low of an average of 3,960,000 viewers for the week, beating its previous low of 4.209 million in October 2011, as well as being the only week to date below 4 million viewers. Currently, the show is still the most-watched daytime drama; and for the season 2011–12, has a household rating of 3.5, and 1.5 for the Women 18–49 demographic. As of 2008, the Tuesday episodes of The Young and the Restless on average is the most-watched daytime drama showing.
When introduced during the 1972–73 season, the show was at the bottom of the ratings, but rose rapidly: ninth by 1974–75 and third by 1975–76. By 1988–89 it had dethroned long-time leader General Hospital as the top-rated soap, a position it has held ever since. During the week of December 2, 2013, the series celebrated their twenty-fifth year as the number one daytime drama. The Young and the Restless airs every weeknight on Pop, where it averaged 362,000 viewers from July to September 2013.^A (debut)
^B Tied in rating (8.1) with General Hospital; however General Hospital drew more viewers in millions.
^C The Young and the Restless was number-one solo (for the first time) for the 1988–89 and has retained this position ever since.