The top-rated daytime soap wins viewers with hot stars and steamy storylines

Aretha Franklin likes to watch. So do Wayne Gretzky, feminist author Camille Paglia, and Walter Matthau. They’re among the up to 10 million viewers who turn on The Young and the Restless every day for, well, a turn-on. For six years running, the racy CBS series has been the highest-rated daytime soap, making its following the largest cult within the cult of soap-opera lovers.

The devotion to the folks of Genoa City is the result of a magic formula concocted by The Young and the Restless‘ cocreator and senior executive producer William J. Bell: sex plus campy situations plus moody lighting plus gorgeous but dim characters plus sex plus really close close-ups plus dropped towels and trou. And did we mention the sex?

One of the show’s most recent eye-opening plotlines involved the hunky and often shirtless Cole (J. Eddie Peck). He married the fetching but once-frigid Victoria (Heather Tom) after a whirlwind courtship, only to discover, post-honeymoon, that they might be — ohmigosh! — brother and sister. Yuck. Gross. Tune in tomorrow.

Y&R, as it is known (the soap in the Flintstones movie is called The Young and the Thumbless), began in 1973 and quickly established itself as different from the other talky soaps of the day. What really set Y&R apart then is what sets it apart now: a focus on younger, usually scantily clad characters involved in relatively real-life situations. (This show has never gone in for fantasy plots like ABC’s General Hospital or One Life to Live, though who can forget when Y&R‘s black private eye, Tyrone, infiltrated the Mob by posing as a white man?)

Along the way, Y&R helped launch the careers of such stars as Tom Selleck and David Hasselhoff. Its new hunk du jour is Shemar Moore, 24, who plays Malcolm, the ne’er-do-well brother of Neil (Kristoff St. John), the rising young cosmetics executive who was recently seen having a steamy encounter with his wife, Drucilla (Victoria Rowell), in the company sauna.

And how was Moore cast for the role? Was he spotted in a local theater production? In a TV commercial? Nah. He was seen in GQ magazine.

The Young and the Restless
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