The Soaps: Tune In Tomorrow

'Y&R' Stays on Message

Bullying has been front and center in the news of late, and rightfully so. Since "The Young and the Restless" has never met an issue it hasn't liked, it's no surprise that it has taken on this significant topic when telling Jamie's story. To be fair, the show did far more than turn it into a public service announcement for tolerance.

It might have been a more dynamic story if Jamie had been a core character or at least related to one, but Jamie came to the show with some trumped-up ties to Ronan and thus obliquely to Phyllis. His bullying started as an attempt by Phyllis' daughter Summer to get back at Ronan and Phyllis for real or imagined slights. We told you it was an oblique tie-in.

With that said, the show did relate Jamie to a core family by having Michael and Lauren take an interest in the fragile boy, which was a perfect choice. First, the show brought back Lauren and Michael's son Fenmore and aged him to teenage status. The guy is creepy in an "Anthony Perkins playing Norman Bates" kind of way. He, too, started to bully Jamie because he resented his parents' interest in him.

Michael and Lauren were a good choice because we have known these characters for more than 20 years, and in the case of Lauren, 30 years. Better still, the same actors (Christian LeBlanc and Tracey E. Bregman) have been playing the role since the beginning.

Michael is now a layered but basically sympathetic character, however, in the early years he came with a history of exploiting others and attempted rape, the ultimate act of bullying. His backstory included an abusive and bullying father. Lauren first appeared as a bully as well, mercilessly taunting the overweight Traci Abbott. The show has recently referenced Michael and his brother Kevin's troubled past, but it looks like the slate has been wiped clean on Lauren.

While Michael believed that Fen might have pushed Jamie off a roof, the thought never entered mama bear Lauren's mind. After Jamie accused Fen of the deed, Lauren stalwartly defended Fen, but Michael was not so sure of his son's innocence. We find it odd that the show has not brought out Lauren's own past if only to display the contrast between what was then and what is now. How things change.

Yet, we applaud "Y&R" for showing Michael's compassion toward his brother Kevin during a blackout, because it revisited Kevin's trauma over having been locked in a closet as a child by their abusive father. Because Michael was not there for Kevin, it gives so much motivation to his taking Jamie's side. He is trying to right the wrongs he made when he was not there for Kevin as a child.

Although it was mainly Lauren who led the charge to take Jamie in, we wish she took a less strident stance in her defense of her son at all costs. We remember how cruel she was to Traci. No, we don't think she would have pushed Traci off a roof, but she never doubts her son. The rift caused by the difference between how Lauren and Michael see Fen is also setting up the dynamic for another story. Lauren is now drawn to Carmine, and the two have kissed. Lauren did pull away, but this arc is just getting started.

Often, teenagers are pulled into a show in hopes of sparking the interest of younger viewers. Even though Jamie's ties to the people of Genoa City were originally weak, he has been integrated into the narrative fabric. Instead of creating vapid teens with great bodies, the show has given us layered teens with issues. In the process, we got dramatic grist for longtime characters as well. A good message, delivered well.

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