An increasing number of engaged soap opera fans know that the daytime landscape is transforming day-by-day. Take, for instance, the evolving story-within-a-story on 'The Young and the Restless'. Yes, current and former fans are helping to write an entirely new script.
If it were 1974, YR would be a year into its run on CBS. The 'Big 3' networks, which also included ABC and NBC, would be controlling console televisions across the United States through a stack of afternoon soap operas that followed a slate of AM game shows.
A sizable number of stay-at-home parents, who weren't forced (or chose to) be employed, worked through their household tasks while watching fictional fare on a regular basis. Those were sometimes golden, though not always great, days in an era gone by.
Click ahead to 2014. Societal changes, that can be debated on other digital platforms, have created a different and drastically smaller broadcast television audience. For starters, many can (and do) opt to watch whatever favored show during other time-shifted portion of their day. But, this available high-tech option wasn't the problem modern soap opera formats initially faced.
The ungodly amount of cable channels available on every system served to slice the heart of daytime long before a social media storm formed. YR audience members, in particular, represent a 1970s'-style textbook case of people power taking to the streets. In this instance, most roadways exist in hyperspace.
Michael Muhney's removal from CBS' number 1 show last December created a reaction that no mood ring could survive. The difference between any beloved star's removal from a soap 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, as compared to today, is the uncontrollable dynamic that connected fans are able to self-create. This previously non-existent factor enables viewers to bypass the traditional top-down media power structure if they so choose.
Facebook posts and shares, Tweets and retweets, along with Pinterest pictures, just to name three social media behemoths enable like-minded people to communicate with and naturally influence behavior on a wide scale. The unknowable strength of these rising numbers is being felt.
While many TV shows undergo cast changes, the unexpected loss of a well-liked daytime star often becomes a traumatic event for soap opera devotees. YR staffers were instructed to write beyond 'Adam Newman's' late-January disappearance. Meanwhile, Muhney's fans are jointly creating a parallel script on their social media screens. Their work has become more important, within that strong circle, than a CBS' show they now view as a distraction.
It seems hard to imagine how YR can recapture this media savvy segment of its audience, unless Muhney is somehow rehired for his old role. And all power to the brave actor who might try to replace him. Of course, millions are ready to type, or thumb-in, their treatment of whatever transpires.