The soap world is reacting to published reports that The Young and the Restless has let go of five breakdown writers. The decision has been described as an effort to “streamline” production and is reflective of other shows. Josh Griffith, who is already serving as executive producer and head writer, will take on the additional duties of writing the show’s daily breakdowns.
Josh Griffith Will Write More of Y&R
The big news was first reported by The Wrap. While the article’s title says this was Griffith’s call, the story quotes an insider as saying, “There was some restructuring of the writers staff to streamline the creative process.” The source did not confirm whether this move was proposed by Griffith or Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show. “It was based on what made sense for the show creatively and mirrors the structure at other soaps.” Soap Hub received “no comment” from the show’s spokespersons.
Veteran Y&R scribe Sara Bibel was one of the breakdown writers directly affected by the decision. “I was one of the writers who lost their jobs” Bibel tweeted. “I will always be proud and grateful for the 6 years I spent at #YR. During my tenure, I wore almost every hat: scriptwriter, co-headwriter the year we ran the tables at the Daytime Emmys (2018-19), script editor & outlines.
“I’m proud that my name appeared in the credits on 250+ episodes a year of produced broadcast TV,” Bibel posted in another tweet. “If I had the luxury of working at a slower pace? I know I could do excellent work. Put me in your rooms, showrunners. Hire me for your OWAs producers & execs.”
The scribe hasn’t lost her sense of humor during this challenging period. When a social media follower posted like Sheila Carter, James Stenbeck, and Reva Shayne that Bibel would return, she tweeted in reply, “I would like to wear a red dress and jump in a fountain!”
Bibel and the other affected writers have received support on social media. “My heart is broken for my colleagues and friends,” posted Michele Val Jean, a writer for The Bold and the Beautiful and a former scribe for General Hospital and Generations.
The Soap World Reacts to The Young and the Restless
“I only know the little I’ve seen on Twitter, and I’m sure my reaction is no different from most — pure shock,” says veteran daytime writer Courtney Simon (Santa Barbara; As the World Turns; One Life to Live), who also acted as Dr. Lynn Michaels on ATWT. “It’s unthinkable to me that anyone in power, a network, a producer — would sanction a purge of this magnitude. Are we really to imagine that a one-hour show airing five days a week can function with only a head writer and a script team? That’s going to seriously alter some job descriptions.”
“In my opinion, a head writer’s primary job is story,” an industry insider told Soap Hub. “Is what we are currently telling working? How do we do it best? What’s coming after that? And after that. How do we set things up and plant Easter eggs for the future? And that is more than a full-time job. A soap is like a book that never ends. The story beast must be fed every day. Now to say that you’re also going to fully flesh out and structure every individual episode, I don’t know how that’s possible. I certainly don’t know how it’s possible without being very detrimental to the show.”
A Daytime Emmy-winning scribe spoke to Soap Hub, expressing doubt that this is a positive play. “In a medium where we need more voices in the room, it’s a little shortsighted to have there be only a single voice,” the writer shared. “When the head writer is [also] the executive producer and the breakdown writer, you lose having those other voices. I’m not sure how The Young and the Restless can be better with this move.”
“The irony is, the past few days of shows have actually been pretty entertaining, and that wasn’t due to the overall stories, but to the individual episodes, which is thanks to the breakdown and dialogue writers,” says Alina Adams (Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime’s Greatest Moments), Soap Hub writer.
Time will tell if “less is more” as Griffith takes on more creative control of the show. Other individuals have worn multiple hats while running soap operas. Mal Young served as the show’s executive producer and head writer during his stay in Genoa City. As half-hour dramas in the 1970s, soap operas had very small writing staffs. The gone-but-never-forgotten Edge of Night was written by Henry Slesar (head writer) and often with actress Lois Kibbee (Geraldine Saxon), who handled the dialogue. One credit crawl for The Doctors in 1974 lists only three writers — Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock and James Lipton.
Currently, Y&R has some front burner tales including but not limited to Sally’s (Courtney Hope) unexpected pregnancy, the continuing fallout from Diane’s (Susan Walters) return from the dead, Adam’s (Mark Grossman) finding his role within the Newman family/business, the return of Jeremy Stark (James Hyde), and boardroom wars with Devon (Bryton James) and Lily (Christel Khalil). Five fan-favorite actors are set to return next month, which you can read more about here.
Josh Griffith – His Soap Opera Backstory
According to Wikipedia, Griffith began his career in daytime writing at Santa Barbara in the late 1980s. He won a Daytime Emmy as One Life to Live’s co-head writer in 1994. Additionally, Griffith created the short-lived Sunset Beach, which aired on NBC from early 1997 to late 1999. After another stay in Llanview that lasted about a year, Griffith became a script writer at As the World Turns under Hogan Sheffer.
Griffith first came to The Young and the Restless as a creative consultant and breakdown writer while Lynn Latham was head writing the show. Shortly thereafter, Griffith was promoted to co-executive producer alongside Latham. After Latham exited the show, Griffith became executive producer. He left in 2008 and was rehired by the show in 2012 after Maria Arena Bell left as head writer/executive producer.
After leaving Y&R again in 2013, Griffith became co-head writer of Days of our Lives along with Dina Higley. His material on DAYS aired in 2015 and 2016. Griffith returned to Y&R again in 2018, first as supervising producer. He assumed additional creative duties for the show after Mal Young’s departure in 2018. He became the show’s sole executive producer following the exit of executive producer Anthony Morina at the end of 2022. The Young and the Restless is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next month on March 26.