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'The Young and the Restless': Ratings' rise provokes a key question

What will old and new fans decide?
What will old and new fans decide? Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images

'The Young and the Restless' has been a hot topic since late-last year. That, in turn, helped draw viewers at rates (nearly 6 million live sets of eyes) that haven't be seen since 2008. But, will this CBS' steamer be able to sustain ratings' success now that many major plot lines have changed?

The three major broadcast television networks understandably cut their soap opera losses during the past decade due to major ratings' declines. Changing lifestyles, shifting demographics and other factors forced those hard business decisions to be made.

Soap operas, which have always been particularly unique on the TV screen, are fueled by passionate loyalists who are deeply committed to their 'show', or 'shows'. So, it's natural that fans react zestfully when their beloved stars leave, or are pushed out.

Combine the modern incarnation of the great Michael Zaslow (most famously known for his portrayal of 'Roger Thorpe' on 'Guiding Light') with the lineage of Victor Newman and the 'YR' spark was lit. Yes, Michael Muhney was consistently terrific every time 'Adam Newman' was written into any scene starting in 2009.

Already dealing with the death of Jeanne Cooper, the voluntary departure of Michelle Stafford, and the apparent voluntary departure of Billy Miller, the top brass at 'YR' didn't need a divisive real-life controversy to emerge. However, that's exactly what it got.

No one, outside of the main players, really knows why Muhney is no longer on the show. The set-up to the announced January 30 final scene, where the actor and the character are both banished from Genoa City, obviously was going to draw interest. But, will enough of the returned, or new, viewers stick around now that he's gone?

There has and will likely always be a certain segment of any TV show's fan base that chooses to look away for personal reasons. And then the major question is: Will they be replaced by enough new fans to even, or increase, the score? If not, early February 2014 could be the peak of 'YR'.

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