Mental health is a huge issue in the United States right now, and The Young and the Restless is to be commended for tackling depression and suicide. But the character they chose to do it with was absolutely the wrong one for the job.
Fool Me Once Y&R
Only a year ago, Chelsea Lawson (Melissa Claire Egan) faked being mentally ill to get out of going to prison for a crime she absolutely committed. And the performance Egan is giving now is identical to the one she gave then. So how are we supposed to believe it? Especially since she seemed to have recovered in the span of a few days AND got everything she wanted in Billy Abbott’s (Jason Thompson) and Adam Newman’s (Mark Grossman) attention, not to mention a way to make Connor Newman (Judah Mackey) feel guilty for being angry with her about Johnny Abbott (Paxton Mishkin).
Perhaps this breakdown was real. But she’s still the Chelsea who cried wolf one too many times, which makes it a little hard for us to fully believe her.
Better Young and the Restless Candidate
Think of how much stronger this tale would have been with a non-con artist in the lead. Imagine if it had been written for Esther Valentine (Kate Linder). The woman feels unneeded by her daughter and grandchildren. Her best friend and employer is dead. Even her frenemy, Jill Foster Abbott (Jess Walton), has left Genoa City. Esther has every right to feel lonely. Which can lead to depression. Which can lead to her feeling nobody needs her. Which can lead to a suicide attempt. Which doesn’t feel fake and manipulative.
Y&R: It Can Happen To Anyone
Or imagine what a strong message it would have sent to put Abby Newman Abbott Chancellor (Melissa Ordway) at the center of such a story. You can be young, beautiful, rich, successful, married to the man of your dreams, and finally have the baby you always wanted…and mental illness can still grab a hold of you.
What if Abby had internalized the message that she didn’t “deserve” to feel depressed? What if she hid it under the mistaken belief that Chance Chancellor (Conner Floyd) was the one who’d suffered “real trauma,” which means he “deserved” support, therapy, and understanding, and she was just a spoiled brat who didn’t?
Y&R could have shattered misconceptions and offered hope to those suffering alone. Instead, it made mental illness seem like a con that, even if it was real, could be cured quicker than the common cold.
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