On a highway, a camera films a mysterious hitchhiker with ripped clothing and a fresh head wound next to a semi-trailer truck driver. The hitchhiker gets out at Genoa City and stays, marking the beginning of “The Young and the Restless.” The No. 1 daytime drama celebrates its 50th anniversary as a fan favorite, with fans growing up alongside the actors. Lauralee Bell, daughter of the show’s founders and a star, attributes the show’s longevity to the fact that it is like a family that shows up every day.
Created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, “The Young and the Restless” follows the lives of several Midwestern families, with William Bell as the head writer for decades. An Emmy-winning actress on the show, Bell says her father would be unsurprised by the show’s milestone, as he believed that with two families coming from different backgrounds and good, solid characters, the story is endless. The show has helped launch the careers of numerous actors, including Tom Selleck, Eva Longoria, and the late Paul Walker.
As the show celebrates its milestone, a masquerade ball storyline kicks off, and “Entertainment Tonight” plans a special. The show has tackled serious issues such as date rape, AIDS, and alcoholism, and the real-time storytelling approach keeps audiences engaged. The show was the first to broadcast in HD, introduced black actors in the 1980s, and portrayed the first mastectomy on daytime TV. The Bell family’s continued involvement in the show and international broadcasting deals have contributed to its success and profitability.
Bell believes that every TV show is like a soap, and the genre continues to thrive, with variations such as “The Crown” and “Succession.” The first scene’s hitchhiker, Brad Elliot, experienced a love triangle with a pair of sisters, a marriage, the heartache of a miscarriage, a diagnosis of blindness, and a divorce petition. Surgery restored his sight, but his marriage never recovered. He left Genoa City after five years, and the show continued its dramatic storytelling.