Young and the Restless spoilers tease that one of Sally Sussman’s final plots may be killing ratings for the long-running and top-rated CBS soap. The talk of the town on soap social media is the same-sex kiss between Mariah Copeland (Camryn Grimes) and Tessa Porter (Cait Fairbanks). There were rumblings for weeks about the two young ladies coupling up, but in early August, the big kiss finally happened, and now ratings are in for that week, and you can see that Y&R took a hard hit. Is it the Mariah-Tessa romance that’s to blame, or are other factors forcing the ratings to fall?
CBS knows Y&R viewers might be offended
In a recent interview with Daytime Confidential, retiring Y&R writer Sally Sussman addressed the same-sex romance controversy. Sussman clarified that the tale about the two women is a “love story” not “a gay story” and said it’s about falling in love with a person, “not a gender.” Plus, there’s the fact that Y&R is the only daytime soap with no same-sex couples. General Hospital has married guys Lucas Jones (Ryan Carnes) and Brad Cooper (Parry Shen). Bold and the Beautiful has trans goddess Maya Avant (Karla Mosley).
Plus, the streets of Salem are extremely diverse on Days of Our Lives. It’s true that The Young and the Restless dipped its toes into the waters of same-sex action with Adam Newman (then Michael Muhney) and Rafe Torres (Yani Gellman), but that was about influence, not romance, and it fizzled fast. Sussman noted in her DC interview that CBS was aware the Mariah-Tessa story might “offend some people” and are aware they have a “very conservative audience.” Nonetheless, Sussman said the storyline was “enthusiastically approved.”
The kiss heard round the soap world
Y&R recaps from SheKnows Soaps confirm that Mariah kissed Tessa on Thursday, August 3, but it happened the day before on Canadian soap TV, so everyone knew about it on Wednesday, August 2, and the rumors were running rampant earlier in the week. The latest rating report from Soap Opera Network show an abrupt drop between Tuesday and Wednesday of more than 120,000 viewers and then another 198,000 between Wednesday and Thursday and another 26,000 the day after the kiss.
The Young and the Restless started the week on Monday, July 31 with 4,479,000 total viewers, but by the end of the week, it was down to 4,024,000, which was a total decrease of 455,000 viewers. That’s a big hit. In the all-important 18-49 demographic, Y&R hit a new low. Compared to the week before, The Young and the Restless was down more than 160,000 viewers and compared to this time last year, down more than 353,000, and that’s with the buffer of the higher numbers on Monday and Tuesday pulling up the average.
Sussman was unprepared for the backlash
In her Daytime Confidential interview, Sally Sussman said when the audience began to realize where “the story was going,” CBS told her they were “getting a lot of negative comments.”
Sussman seemed surprised by the vitriol and said, “I was honestly a little taken aback by the depth of the negativity. It made me quite sad.”
The ex-Y&R writer added, “I had hoped with this story people wouldn’t just see gender… Now that I’m not with the show anymore, I have no idea how it will play out in the future.”
When the Mariah-Tessa storyline bubbled up, even before they consummated their affection with a kiss, there was already uproar on Twitter and Facebook in soap groups. Many “fans” exclaimed they would quit watching if it happened and doubted Y&R was really going down the road. The numbers are in for the week of the kiss, and viewers did tune out, but was “Tesriah” the reason why or is something else driving the dip in numbers?
What caused Y&R ratings to plummet?
The Young and the Restless had a busy few weeks and major shake-ups. Within the few days before the girls’ smooching scene, other changes were afoot at CBS Daytime. Sally Sussman and Kay Alden both retired – and fan reaction was mixed. Some liked Alden, but Sussman had more than her fair share of critics among fans. In the next breath, Mal Young was confirmed to take over as the head writer along with his executive producer duties. That was another shocker that might not have pleased some fans.
Then again, the Mariah-Tessa romance could have triggered the Y&R ratings drop because fans did what they said and did not tune in because they objected to the storyline. Same-sex romance is a fact of life in our society and is mainstream. However, you can’t make fans watch what they don’t want to, even if their stance is inconsistent with the reality of our world. If the ratings rebound next week, we can chalk up the record low to the change in leadership or other factors.
However, if the ratings stay low, it begs the question of whether Mal Young and CBS Daytime will change the direction of Y&R to please its conservative fans.
What do you think? Do you love or hate the blossoming romance between Tessa and Mariah? Are you still watching? Check back for more spoilers on developing stories like Dina and her Alzheimer’s plus more on Kevin Fisher’s (Greg Rikaart) return as part of the Mariah-Tessa love story. Watch CBS every day to see more of these Young and the Restless spoilers for the week of August 14.
[Featured Image by Rob Kim and Jason Merritt/Getty Images]