The Innovative & the Ignored: A Critical Reflection of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Transmedia Strategy

by Brett King

Abstract

As part of its ongoing effort to expand its audience base and remain on the air, the US American soap opera  “The  Young  &  the  Restless”  has  been  utilizing  transmedia  since  the  mid-1970s. This piece looks at those earlier strategies, in addition to exploring more recent, cutting-edge ventures that make it possible to examine the intersection between transmedia and the (assumed) female experience.

Introduction

In the current discourse on media, the concept of “transmedia”—that is, utilizing multiple media platforms to expand and tell a singular story—has drawn much attention. There has been discussion of its usage in dramatic adventure series, science fiction programming, and more.1  Yet, one genre that has remained conspicuously absent from this conversation is the soap opera. Perhaps this is because soaps—at least in US American culture—are seen as a dying breed, thus not worth the attention. Despite this, there is one soap opera in particular that has been actively utilizing transmedic forms for nearly 40 years, far longer than many of the other television series frequently lauded for their efforts in this area: The Young & the Restless (CBS; 1973-present).

As part of The Young & the Restless’  ongoing  efforts  to expand its audience base and remain relevant (thus on the air), it has employed a transmedia strategy since 1976. This paper will provide readers with an historical analysis of The Young & the Restless’  earliest multi-medium endeavors, as well as offer a discussion highlighting modern, cutting-edge ventures executed by producers. As part of this overview of The Young & the Restless’  transmedia  strategy, readers will learn: how, in an effort to grow their audience in the pre-Internet era, producers turned to print-media; how producers have prioritized the frequently overlooked and assumed female experience in crafting a transmedia experience; and, how producers have created a fresh avenue of revenue in an age where the genre—as a whole—is not as profitable as it once was. In short, this paper will explore the ways in which The Young & the Restless’  transmedia  strategy  over  the last 40 years has been, and continues to be, truly innovative.

Reflexivity, Theory, and Method

I am approaching this piece from the point-of-view of a third-year undergraduate student majoring in the discipline of Cultural Studies and minoring in Women & Gender Studies. To date, most of my academic work has focused on the (mis)representations of gender, sexuality, race and class within popular culture, especially television (moreover US American daytime soap operas). I am a genuine fan of television, and, as a queer man living in a frequently homophobic culture steeped in heteronormative ideologies, I am interested in exploring television’s capacity to  challenge  these  systems.  Within  my  broader work, those theories that are most beneficial to me in understanding culture are those that illuminate the ideologies which subject and misrepresent certain groups of people while elevating others (e.g., Feminist and Queer Theory, written by scholars such as bell hooks and Judith Butler).

With these ideas in mind,  when  I  discuss  issues  of  “culture”  from  here  on  out,  I  am doing so in a manner akin to cultural theorist Raymond Williams in his essay “Culture  is  Ordinary.” That is, I am speaking of a whole way of life—complete with culturally-inscribed practices, shared meanings, internal politics of difference, etc.— which governs the way(s) people (both individually and collectively) live their lives and make sense of the world around them. Essential to this idea of culture is an understanding and recognition that cultures have fundamental worldwide, and temporal differences (i.e., Williams’  concept  of  dominant,  residual,  and  emergent  cultures), and that I can only analyze and speak of culture from a uniquely reflective position within my own. Furthermore, when I discuss issues of audience reception, I do so with a tacit understanding  of  Stuart  Hall’s  work  on  dominant,  resistant,  and  negotiated readings of encoded messages.

In essence, I recognize that various cultural factors might interfere with  individual  audience  members’  ability  to  interpret  the  intended  message(s)  that  producers have encoded within their production(s). In turn, this might cause such audience members to walk away with an understanding of the message(s) that differs from what the producers originally intended. Hence, why  I  refer  to  the  producers’  intents throughout, rather than what may or may not have happened on the audience-end of the cycle.

For this piece, I will also utilize the concept of production theory. Production theory is a framework of understanding that explores the relationship between popular culture and capitalism, and which developed from the field of television and media studies.  As  such,  a  “production  analysis  draws  attention  to  the  fact  that  whatever  else  popular culture may be, it is deeply embedded in capitalist, for-profit  mass  production”  (“Production Analysis”: paragraph 6). This is accomplished through analyses of pop culture artifacts (e.g., a television series) on three different levels: the microlevel looks at the workers involved in production; the midrange level looks at the institutions driving the production; and/or the macro-level looks at the governing forces exerting control over the production. The overarching goal of production analysis is to give consumers of popular culture a better understanding of those artifacts.

Of the three levels discussed above, I have employed a midrange critical reading here. I explore The Young & the Restless in terms of its intra- and inter-network locality, its branding and marketability, and its efforts to broaden its audience base and increase viability. I will show that, in understanding these factors, we gain a better understanding of the possibilities not only for the soap opera genre, but also for the application of transmedia as a whole.  Similarly,  I  utilize  the  idea  of  genre  theory,  which  “examines  the  development  or  characteristics of a specific classification  of  television  programming”  (Fineman,  “Theory  Overview”).  I  apply  this  theory  in  my  explanation  of  the  genre,  as  well  as  my  suggestions  surrounding its possible evolution.

Soap History

In his 2008 audience-impact  study  titled  “Soap  Operas  and the History of Fan Discussion,”  Sam  Ford—at the time, the instructor of a course on the American soap opera, and the Project Manager for the Convergence Culture Consortium Program at M.I.T. (Mistretta: paragraphs 1-2)—provides a concise history of the soap opera genre. Ford notes that even the  term  “soap  opera”  is  rooted  in  the  relationship  between  television and capitalism: in their earliest incarnation (short, daily dramas played on the radio), soaps were sponsored by soap companies (Ford: section 2.2). In that same section, Ford goes on to explain that these early soap operas focused  on  the  “ongoing development of an ensemble  cast”  (ibid)  to  attract  viewers.

Today, this ongoing character development is just as significant to the genre as it was in the 1930s and 1950s (when soaps transitioned to television), which brings us to Ford’s  next  point:  Soap  operas attract an audience through the creation of an immersive story world defined by characteristics such as: a serial storytelling structure; a sense of long-term continuity built through years, even decades, of key characters who are featured  daily or weekly; a deep character backlog that has developed over time; an ensemble cast of 30 or 40 characters who are featured on the show at any one time; and self-referential ties to events from a rich textual history. (Ford: section 2.3)

However, while that immersive experience is capable of retaining established viewers, it can also be problematic in terms of gaining new audience members because there is simply too much history, and much of it is non-archived. For example, new viewers of The Young & the Restless (assuming they did not have access to the Internet) would have no way of knowing the rich textual history driving the Katherine Chancellor and Jill Abbott characters  quasi-feud.3  As will be discussed in the next section, however, The Young & the Restless found a transmedic way around this flaw of the genre early on.

Ford also points out another area of soap opera production worth noting here: “[T]hese texts are defined by creative  powers  that  are  in  constant  flux:  not  only  are  hundreds of people employed to create soaps, but characters and story arcs will pass through various creative teams. Any U.S. soap opera that survives for decades will eventually see its creative team  completely  turn  over”  (Ford: section 2.3). This is notable because new authors bring with them the possibility for fresh, innovative perspectives. In some cases, they may have a different understanding of emerging constructs and/or evolving discourses (e.g., Web 2.0 and feminism), the combination of which may give rise to new ways of reaching out to potential audiences.

Turning the Page on History

Long  before  the  publication  of  Marsha  Kinder’s and  Henry  Jenkins’  ground- laying works on transmedia4—17 years earlier, to be exact—CBS’  The Young & the Restless was already engaged in the process of creating transmedic artifacts. Between 1976 and 1987, authors for Bantam Books and Pioneer Communications, Inc., while working in conjunction with Columbia Pictures, Inc., released (at least) ten novellas based on the series.

The  Bantam  Books  came  first  and  were  “[b]ased  on  the  Emmy  Award-winning series created by William J. Bell and  Lee  Phillip  Bell”  (Sherwood: title page). They focused on the romantic couplings audience members were most drawn to (e.g., Brad Eliot  and  Leslie  Brooks),  what  fans  today  would  call  a  “super  couple.”6  The stories told in these early books were actually re-tellings of events that had occurred earlier in the show’s  run,  but  with  a  twist.  Not  only  did  the  print-form of these stories offer consumers a chance to catch-up/refresh their memories, they also granted readers a unique insight into the thoughts and motivations of their ostensibly favorite characters. (After all, who didn’t  want  to  know  that  Leslie  was unable to sleep for two nights and unable to focus on her  pending  concert  in  Detroit,  because  she  was  so  tormented  by  Brad’s  relationship  with  her sister Lorie?) This is relevant to note because US American soap operas rarely utilize voice-overs (i.e., characters internal voices) as a means of conveying thoughts and motivation, choosing instead to rely on production and aesthetic techniques (e.g., emotive expressions during lingering close-up shots, dramatic music, etc.). Thus, by providing new readers and viewers-turned-readers a window into the thought processes of these characters, the books allowed audience members to feel even more immersed in the lives of (the fictionalized) Genoa City, Wisconsin’s citizens.

The Pioneer Communications series of books began publication in 1986, ten years later. Like the Bantam Books that came before, this second series of novellas offered consumers an expanded glimpse into past events. By then, The Young & the Restless had been on the air for thirteen years, and had aired approximately 2,470 hours of brand new, non-repeating storytelling.7  Numerous characters had come and gone, and, with such changes,  the  show’s  core-families evolved (the Brooks and Fosters were phased out in favor of the Newmans and Abbotts). For many viewers, the various couplings and un- couplings that came with this evolution made it hard to keep up. For instance, audiences may have forgotten (or never known) that before the Nikki Newman character was firmly ensconced in a love-quadrangle  with  the  show’s  two  leading  men  of  the  1980s,  she  actually spent two years married into a different core-family (the Fosters). Columbia Pictures and Pioneer Communications sought to bridge this gap in the only way open to them in the pre-Internet days: print-media. The cover art on many of the books from this series  declared  that  readers  could  “[r]elive  the  past  from  its  very  beginnings  in  a  continuing  series  of  paperbacks.” Furthermore, like the Bantam Books that preceded them, the nature of this form of media enabled creators to delve deeper into  characters internal thoughts and motivations, 8  once  again  furthering  the  depth  of  the  consumers immersive experience.

A third print-media venture worth noting here is a single book released in 1998, on the occasion of The Young & the Restless 25th  Anniversary.  Columbia  Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Entertainment Company authorized authors Barbara Irwin and Mary Cassata to write a  Collector’s  Edition  book.  Over  the  course of 304 pages, readers encounter:  detailed  synopses  of  each  year’s  primary  storylines  (between 1973- 1998); family  trees  devoted  to  the  show’s  core-families;;  a  “wedding  album”  featuring  pictures and plot-line information  for  48  marriage  ceremonies;;  a  “map”  of  the  fictionalized Genoa City, Wisconsin, which denotes where characters live, the addresses of featured restaurants, and more; and, a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the creative process and actors. Although this book simply offers a recap of what has come before—it does not provide new story material—it does function like its predecessors in the  sense  that  it  contextualizes  25  years’  worth  of  history  for  audience members. Additionally, the latter half of the book (the map, tour guide, and behind-the-scenes features) serves to draw consumers even more deeply into the world of The Young & the Restless by  adding  an  air  of  authenticity  that  increases  audiences’  connectedness   to  the  (fictionalized) Genoa City, Wisconsin. Thus, producers maximize  the  series’  audience- base and profitability.

As I have mentioned already, the nature of these print-media forms—by virtue of retelling  earlier  storylines,  and  creating  new  avenues  of  understanding  characters’  motivations—served to create an even deeper immersive experience for the audience. As Ford notes, it is exactly that experience that keeps existing audiences coming back (section 2.3). Further, the books offered The Young & the Restless’  “Powers  that  Be”9  a chance to ensnare new viewers: those consumers who stumbled upon one of these artifacts at their local drugstore or grocer, but who had rarely/never watched the actual television show before. Once those consumers finished reading the books, producers expected them to tune-in to the actual program and find out what transpired in the interim; or, producers expected readers to be curious enough to want to find out if their own interpretations of certain characters jived with what appeared on-screen. Given the technological limitations of the time (i.e., the lack of Internet), the Bantam and Pioneer books were an ingenious way for producers of The Young & the Restless to market their product and increase its viability.10

Innovative Style

In  “Character,  Audience  Agency  and  Transmedia  Drama,”  Elizabeth  Jane  Evans explores the BBC series Spooks (BBC One; 2002-2011), and hails it as innovative in terms  of  digital  interactivity.  In  particular,  Evans  is  interested  in  looking  at  the  series’  use  of gaming as a means of maximizing  audience  interaction  and  forming  “a  matrix  of  interconnected fictional texts that are not only an extension of the television text, but are capable of providing different kinds of entertainment  in  their  own  right”  (198). In a similar vein, Tom Abba, in his essay on the future of transmedia narrative, comes back again and again to the idea of gaming—specifically Alternate Reality Games—as a key component of the web-based, transmedic experience.11 In fact, as of this writing, most of the transmedia scholarship I have encountered has focused on the importance of gaming culture. Little, if any, attention has been paid to either those who would not actively seek to participate in a gaming culture, or the (generalized) female experience. With regard to the latter, the only mention I have found  so  far  has  been  in  Henry  Jenkin’s  “Transmedia Storytelling,”  though even that is framed in the context of the frequently male-dominated gaming culture.12 In 2008, around the same time Evans was calling Spooks’  approach innovative, The Young & the Restless was employing transmedia in a way that was different from other series—a way that was truly innovative, in the sense that it prioritized the (assumed) female experience13 and it did not rely on Internet-based games. To understand this argument, however, the reader needs access to a bit of back-story first: within the world of The Young & the Restless, four fan-favorite characters came together in 2008 to start an in-universe fashion  magazine  titled  “Restless  Style.”  The magazine was (and continues  to  be)  a  prominent  feature  of  the  shows  storyline,  in  large  part  due  to  the  characters that work—and fight, and make love, and get fired, and later rehired—there. In an effort to bring attention to the series and interact with fans, producers created a real- world  website  dedicated  to  the  fictional  magazine’s  content.

Originally found at RestlessStyle.com,14 a sub-section  of  Sony  Pictures’  website, many industry followers at the time focused their attention on this transmedic magazine.15 In part, such coverage  came  about  because  series  producers’  method  of  reaching viewers was a first for the genre, and, as I mentioned already, producers were employing transmedia in a way that ran counter to the norm (i.e., it was not based on the frequently masculinized idea of gaming). That is, the transmedia format employed here relied on producers’  assumptions  about  what  women  viewers  were likely to seek-out in their  time  spent  on  the  Internet.  According  to  the  press  release  announcing  the  “Restless Style”  site:  “This  site  offers  the  latest  runway  trends,  fresh  beauty  tips  and  red  carpet  coverage, in addition to such things as videos, polls, photo  galleries  and  horoscopes”  (qtd. in DeLeon: paragraph 3).

The Young & the Restless’  creators  merged this assumed understanding of their audience  with  that  same  group’s  desire  to  know  more  about  the  shows  characters  and  environment  and  interact  with  them  on  a  personal  level  (i.e.,  Ford’s  immersive  experience). For example, visitors to the real-world site were able to seek the advice of controversial key character and fan-favorite  Phyllis  Newman  courtesy  of  the  “Ask Phyllis”  feature  (“Y&R’s  RestlessStyle.com”: paragraph 1). Fans were also given access to exclusive “behind  the  scenes  video  footage”  (“Y&R’s RestlessStyle.com”: paragraph 2) of characters orchestrating cover-shoots with real-world figures like Katy Perry, and wearing fashion by the likes of Christian Dior.16,17 Finally, rather than being subjected to actual advertisements, visitors to the site encountered ads for other in-universe brands (e.g., the Crimson Lights coffee shop, or the Forrester-brand haute couture line featured on  “sister-soap”  The Bold & the Beautiful). Through such features, existing audiences were encouraged to delve even deeper into the universe of The Young & the Restless, thereby giving them even more of a reason to keep watching the series. (And it certainly did  not  hurt  that  two  of  the  show’s  most  polarizing  female  characters  in  terms  of  fan- loyalty—the Sharon and Phyllis Newman characters—were at the heart of so much of “Restless  Style’s”  content,  both  in  the  fictional- and real-world environments.) In terms of bringing in new audiences, the genius of this approach rested in the potential cross- promotional appeal: a space was created in-universe for real-world pop culture figures like Perry and artists like Jeff Koons to be featured, thereby creating a reason for the followers of such figures to connect with the series and (hopefully) become hooked.

Jabot, Calling…

In recent months (2011), the creators of The Young & the Restless have undertaken their most innovative and potentially revolutionary step in terms of their transmedic evolution.  As  they  did  with  “Restless  Style”  in  2008,  producers  once again sought to bridge realities and genres by bringing Jabot Cosmetics—another in-universe company—into the real world. Unlike the previous venture, however, this time the producers set their sights on Jabot Cosmetics, a prominent company in-universe that has been  an  integral  part  of  countless  plotlines  and  characters’  lives  for 30 years. It is highly unlikely that anyone who has seen more than two episodes of The Young & the Restless would fail to recognize the significance of Jabot to the overarching series. With that in mind,  “TPTB”  have  struck  a  deal  with  the  real-world Home Shopping Network (HSN) to sell  products  sporting  the  Jabot  Cosmetics  label.  In  addition  to  being  sold  on  HSN’s  dedicated television channel, these products are also available online at both the HSN website and the Shop Jabot website.

For reasons that will be discussed presently, this venture offers The Young & the Restless’  audience  a  heretofore  unheard  of chance to immerse themselves in the storyline, and interact with tangible artifacts from the show—a specific, transmedia type of product capitalization offered by few other media-dependent properties. The approach also offers something valuable to the series itself: it creates another avenue of revenue in an age where the genre—as a whole—is not as profitable as it once was, and when many are prophesying the end of the structure. As noted by Liz Kalodner, the general manager and executive  vice  president  who  oversees  CBS’s  consumer  products:

This is a truly innovative licensing deal that just makes sense on so many levels. Jabot already has built-in brand familiarly with the viewers, and the launch of these new products  will  be  integrated  into  the story-lines  in  a  very organic way. Fans will get to watch the development of these products unfold on the show and then be able to actually  buy  them  and  use  them,  themselves.  (“Jabot  Cosmetics: The Real Deal”: paragraph 2)

As Kalodner highlights, this venture is more than a mere marketing campaign, and it is exactly that something more which qualifies the Jabot project as a transmedia experience. All of it—the packaging, the promotion, the sales, etc.—is actually  part  of  the  series’  recent and foreseeable storyline. The Jabot-HSN venture was featured prominently in the narrative building up to the product launch,19 and there is the (very real) possibility that the successes and/or failures of the line in the real-world will be referenced during in- universe  discussions  about  Jabot’s  sales  figures.  As  a  result,  audience-consumption of real-world Jabot cosmetics could dictate the outcome of future storylines. For example, if enough product is not purchased via HSN and the Shop Jabot website, producers have an impetus for scripting in-universe stock prices going down, thereby positioning rival company  Newman  Enterprises’  “Beauty  of  Nature”  cosmetics  line  as  a  threat—again— and paving the way for future dramatic moments. This approach gives the audience yet another level of unprecedented influence over the characters and story-lines they follow (and certainly more influence over the story than some of the other mediated properties critics are excited about). Talk about an immersive experience for the audience—it’s  like  the  producers  just  gave  them  a  seat  on  Jabot’s  Board  of  Directors  by  virtue  of  their  credit  card!

Still another aspect of this campaign worth noting is the actual packaging and marketing. The Jabot product line (both in-universe and in the real-world) utilizes stylized fonts and colors associated with The Young & the Restless’  branding  as  part  of  its packaging (see: images at right; courtesy of SoapCentral.com). Audiences recognize the red, looping font as the same used in the famous opening credits, and this, in theory, increases their desire to possess a piece of the show as their own.

Similarly, the line utilizes Tracey Bregman as its spokesperson in the real-world, and her character (Lauren Fenmore) as the in-universe spokesperson. The reason for this is that Tracey/Lauren has been a prominent figure in many storylines on both The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful during the last 28 years. Fans of the series recognize Bregman—quite often as a favorite—and this association, in conjunction with the fact that she is marketing the line on both the real-world and narrative-levels, should broaden  the  chances  of  the  campaigns  success.

In essence, the producers expect this transmedia venture to succeed in maintaining existing audiences by making them actual stakeholders in the The Young & the Restless property, and by playing  on  their  desire  to  be  part  of  the  “rich  textual  history”  (Ford: section 2.3) they have vested so much time in over the years. Of course, this strategy also offers hope for potential new viewers vis-à-vis those who might not have watched the show, but who were intrigued by either the idea or actual product when encountered on the Home Shopping Network or elsewhere. Of course, given the newness of this experiment in transmedia, it is unclear whether or not The Young & the Restless’  creators  will meet with the desired success.

Don’t Touch That Dial!

I am sure there will be those who read what I have written here and still say: the soap opera genre is dying, so why should we care; or, why should we waste time on looking at them any furem/plstrongther? Likewise, I believe there will be those who say that the discourse has already been exhausted thanks to the superior efforts of scholars like Christine Geraghty, or that US American soap operas are encoded with regressive ideas on women and social issues and we should just let the genre die.

It is true that, as of this writing, there are only five (soon to be four) US American soap operas to be found on daytime television—it does seem as if the genre is on its last legs. But as Ford notes in his outline of the soap genre’s history, they have been a staple of television since the 1950s and were part of radio even before that (section 2.2). They would not have been able to survive these last 80 years without possessing a knack for survival that would make cockroaches and Twinkies jealous. In the past, soaps have reinvented themselves through a combination of behind-the-scenes changes (e.g., new writing teams, recasts, etc.) and controversial storylines. At other times, however, the artisans behind the scenes have shown themselves to be capable of shattering convention and trying something truly new and innovative. The Young & the Restless is a prime example of the latter. Over the years, and through the use of transmedia (even before the term was coined), the series has refused to remain confined to the televisual medium. It has co-existed alongside printed, paperback narratives; it has operated in conjunction with an interactive web-based periodical; and, currently, it is relying on a previously undefined combination of the Internet, television, cross-promotionalism, consumerism, and nostalgia that I will call Nostalgic Inter-Televisual Consumerism (at least until someone else comes up with a better term).

As for the other arguments against pursuing this line of study: while there is certainly no denying the exemplary work of Christine Geraghty and others who have framed the way the Academy sees soap operas as cultural artifacts, it does not mean that there is not room for growth. As I have demonstrated here, soaps—as heralded by The Young & the Restless—could significantly expand the way we look at transmedia, which could, in turn, influence the way media producers make use of other forms (e.g., the Internet, print-media, etc.), and audiences interact with said-forms. Similarly, it is true that US American soap operas are occasionally behind-the-times when it comes to certain ideas—after all, their audience base does tend to be somewhat more conservative when it comes to social issues, as indicated by various comments made over the years by industry insiders in regards to controversial storylines.20 By no means, however, does that mean that we should stop considering the media we consume. Indeed, we should remain all the more vigilant because of that fact.

One final point I can foresee future scholars challenging me on is the matter of power-dynamics. Throughout this piece, I have discussed transmedia texts’ usage of fan- favorite characters and couplings. Obviously, the creators of the texts make the final decisions when it comes to which characters are featured, what happens with them, and how story-lines are influenced by their interface with other mediums.  Thus,  the  audience’s  ability to interact and control their immersive experience is still limited to a significant degree.

Conclusion

I admit that I have been somewhat critical of the existing transmedia scholarship discussed throughout, which has shown itself to be both gender-biased and narrow in its scope. Certainly, I do not mean to diminish or negate such work completely—indeed, it has formed the basis of my own writing here. Rather, my goal has been simply to demonstrate that the way(s) in which The Young & the Restless—and, by extension, the soap opera genre—uses transmedia is truly innovative in comparison with other series and genres, and that, if other media producers adopted a similar approach, the discourse on transmedia could be pushed in new and exciting ways. As I have already discussed throughout, The Young & the Restless’  producers  have  facilitated  audience  interaction and stimulated audience growth over the last 40 years, and they have done so by continually expanding The Young & the Restless’  narrative  into  other  media,  and  by  focusing on the (assumed) female experience. No other media properties can compare in terms of longstanding transmedia ventures or female-oriented approaches; but, they could certainly learn a thing or two. So why is the Academy more interested in dramatic adventure series like Lost, and science fiction programming like Spooks?

Finally, personal experience and perspective have undoubtedly led to some biases on my part when it comes to this issue. Nonetheless, as I mentioned above, it is my firm belief that the US American Academy does not pay enough attention to the soap opera genre. Millions encounter soap operas on a daily basis—they have done so since the days of pre-television—and viewers simultaneously consume the messages contained therein and  create  new  meanings  for  themselves  on  issues  ranging  from  womens  health,  to  sexuality, to family, and so on. What are we missing by not discussing this important site of meaning-making and knowledge?

Addendum #1

Known titles, presented in chronological/alphabetical  order…

Publisher Title Author Year
Unknown The Young and the Restless: Far Side of Love Unknown Unknown
Unknown The Young and the Restless: One Shining Moment Unknown Unknown
Bantam Books The Young and the Restless:the Story of Brad and Leslie Deborah Sherwood 1976
Bantam Books The Young and the Restless:the Story of Chris and Snapper Deborah Sherwood 1976
Pioneer Communications Network, Inc. The Young and the Restless: A Touch of Paradise Angelica Aimes 1986
Pioneer Communications Network The Young and the Restless: Bittersweet Harvest William J. and Lee P. Bell 1986
Pioneer Communications Network The Young and the Restless: Bold Passions Unknown 1986
Pioneer Communications Network The Young and the Restless: Echoes of Love Angelica Aimes 1986
Pioneer Communications Network The Young and the Restless: Private Yearnings Unknown 1986
Pioneer Communications Network The Young and the Restless: Shining Star William J. and Lee P. Bell 1987

 

Endnotes

1Forexamples,see:Abba’sworkonLost,andEvans’workonSpooks.

2See:“Encoding/Decoding.

3KayandJill’streatmentofeachotherissignificantlyrootedina1970s-love-affair involving Kay’s then- husband and the amorous Jill. Later, a millennial storyline saw the two women retconned as mother- daughter—muchtothecharacters’chagrin.Thatstory was itself retconned circa 2010.

4See: Playing with Power and “Transmedia Storytelling,” respectively.

5See: Addendum #1 for known titles.

6See:Reepformoreontheideaofthe“supercouple.”

7The Young & the Restless ran as a daily half-hour program between 1973 and 1980, at which time it became a daily hour-long program (see: Hyatt, and McNeal).

8For example, readers could better understand JillFoster’sassumptionsaboutwhatitmeanstobewealthy(Aimes, W. Bell, and L. Bell 72).

9“ThePowersthatBe,”or“TPTB,”isacommonwayforparticipantsinInternet-based discussion boards geared toward soap operas to refer to the collective of forces that influence various aspects of the show (e.g., head-writers, executive producers, sponsors, etc.).

10In the years since, other soaps—such as As the World Turns (CBS; 1956-2010)—have also employed transmedia strategies that rely on print-media, though that is a discussion for a different piece.

11See:“Hybrid Stories.”

12“So,womenmaynotplaygames,butwomenwholikeLord of the Rings might experiment on a related gametitle”(Jenkins3).

13That is to say, producers relied on culturally inscribed, gendered expectations of what their target audience—women—would want from a transmedic experience.

14The page is now defunct, and the link merely takes Internet users to Sony Pictures’ main The Young & the Restless page.

15Foranexamplesee:“RestlessStyle.comIsInBusiness,”postedbyusernameMelodie.

16See: “RestlessStyle PhotoShoot – BehindTheScene” for an example of this exclusive content featuring in-universe characters.

17From a production standpoint, this venture becomes even more interesting when one considers the business-end logistics of featuring real-world vocalists, designers, and so forth (i.e., paying royalties, etc.).

18 One of the most notable exceptions might be The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a real-world book discussed and read by characters within the Harry Potter franchise.

19For instance, in the July 28, 2011, episode of The Young & the Restless, characters Jack Abbott and Lauren Fenmore were seen promoting the Jabot-HSN joint venture on an episode of The Talk (2010- present), a real-world talk show that airs later in the afternoon on CBS. This segment not only allowed producers to plug the upcoming cosmetics line, but, as a result of questions based on in-universe events, The Talk’shosts helped further the overarching storyline (see: “Y&RTuckerJuly28,2011,”min.2:23).

20  Also worth noting is that the actors who play Lauren and Jack—Tracey Bregman and Peter Bergman—filmed a segment (as themselves) that appeared on an actual episode of The Talk at the same time, in which they too discussed the Jabot-HSN joint-venture (see: “PeterBergmanandTraceyBregman on The Talk,” min. 4:17).

21  For instance: Kay Alden, the former head-writer for The Young & the Restless, had this to say about the audience’sreactiontoaquickly-scuttled lesbian storyline in the 1970s: “You could hear television sets clicking offallacrossAmerica…Theaudienceknewexactlywhatwasgoingon…At no other time can I remember an instant ratings drop because of a single storyline”(qtd. in Bibel, paragraph 8).

Works Cited

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Web. 4 Nov. 2011. <http://www.dcrc.org.uk/publications/hybrid-stories- examining-future-transmedia-narrative>.

Aimes, Angelica, William J. Bell, and Lee Phillip Bell. Echoes of Love. Rocky Hill, Ct.: Pioneer Communications Network, 1986. Print.

Bibel,  Sarah  A.  “Deep  Soap:  (Gay)  Pride  and  Prejudice.”  Fancast. 16 June 2008. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.fancast.com/blogs/2008/deep-soap/deep-soap-gay- pride-and-prejudice/>.

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Evans,  Elizabeth  Jane.  “Character,  Audience Agency  And  Transmedia  Drama.”  Media, Culture & Society 30.2 (2008): 197-213. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 Sept. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com.emils.lib.colum.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=9&sid=98984831-d3e0-4ede-9ee6- e9e79bbf1423%40sessionmgr4&bdata=JmxvZ2luLmFzcCZzaXRlPWVob3N0L WxpdmU%3d#db=a9h&AN=31712250>

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<http://web.ebscohost.com.emils.lib.colum.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=9&sid=98984831-d3e0-4ede-9ee6- e9e79bbf1423%40sessionmgr4&bdata=JmxvZ2luLmFzcCZzaXRlPWVob3N0L WxpdmU%3d#db=f3h&AN=51138791>

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Kinder, Marsha. Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: from Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Berkeley: University of California, 1993. Print.

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One thought on “The Innovative & the Ignored: A Critical Reflection of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS’ Transmedia Strategy

  1. Glad you found my Transformative Works and Cultures piece of interest. I wrote some about soaps and tramsmedia in my Master’s thesis and also wrote an (unpublished) report on soap operas and transmedia as a white paper for an organization that I would be glad to share with you, if it is of interest. Enjoyed this piece, BTW!

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