“The Young and the Restless” Is Celebrating 50 Years On Air

Updated: Mar. 20, 2024

The Young and the Restless, which has been the number one daytime drama for 34 consecutive years, celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.

When husband and wife William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell created The Young and the Restless in 1973, they probably never dreamed that the daytime soap opera would become one of the longest-running series on television. This week, the show celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, having aired well over 12,000 episodes over the last five decades.

The series premiered on CBS on March 26, 1973, as a direct competitor to show’s like ABC’s All My Children and General Hospital, and eventually, the 30-minute show was expanded to hour-long episodes in 1980. The series follows the lives of several families in the fictional Midwestern town of Genoa City, and while those families and the many characters on the show have evolved over time, the show has remained one of the most popular daytime series of all time, holding the spot as the number one daytime drama for more than 34 years. To celebrate The Young and the Restless season 50, here are a few reasons why the show was so groundbreaking and why it’s still as fresh as ever.

If you love old TV shows that are still as entertaining now as the day they aired, here are a few more to check out.

How has The Young and the Restless changed over the years?

American actor, recording artist, and producer Michael Damian, American soap opera actress Lauralee Bell and American actor Kristoff St. John (1966-2019), pose for a portrait in April 1992 in Los Angeles, California. Damian portrays Danny Romalotti, Bell portrays Christine Blair and St. John portrays Neil Winters on The Young and the RestlessWilliam Nation/Getty Images

The Young and the Restless originally began as the story of the wealthy Brooks family and the poor, struggling Foster family, and the relationships, rivalries and romances between them. The show revolutionized both the content and look of soap operas; it featured often progressive storylines, sexual relationships and social issues that had not previously been seen on soaps before, and the series was filmed using cinematic lighting and camera angles that would influence the way many soaps that came after it would be shot.

Once the show switched to an hour-long format in 1980, much of the original cast and the families at the center of the show left, to be replaced by two new families, the Abbotts and the Williams. At this time, the show also introduced the villainous Victor Newman, the character played by Eric Braeden, and his wife Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott). The role of Victor was only meant to be a temporary guest spot, but Braeden became so popular, his character has remained on the show for more than 40 years, and the pair are one of the original soap opera power couples. Another duo on the show, Katherine “Kay” Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and Jill Foster Abbott (Jess Walton) are two of daytime TV’s most bitter rivals: the two women have the honor of engaging in the longest-running feud in the history of daytime soaps, which began in the mid-1970s.

Why is The Young and the Restless so iconic?

In addition to the show’s longevity, it’s lauded as one of the best TV shows on daytime TV because, in addition to its memorable storylines, it has launched the careers of more than a few big names in Hollywood, including David Hasselhoff, who played Dr. Snapper Foster from 1975 until 1982, the late Paul Walker, who starred as heartthrob Brandon Collins in 1992, and Eva Longoria, who played the complex and volatile Isabella Braña from 2001 until 2003. The series was also groundbreaking in that it was one of the first daytime soap operas to feature Black characters in the core ensemble. Actors like Kristoff St. John, Victoria Rowell, Shemar Moore, and Vivica A. Fox were a part of the show’s cast at a time when many other daytime shows were dominated by white actors.

The show has its share of unforgettable moments, too; topping that list would have to be the now-iconic cake fight between the always-sparring Kay and Jill in 2009. Thanks to a wild 2003 plot twist, it was discovered that Jill was Kay’s long-lost daughter, but six years later, that plot point was reversed, culminating in a fight of epic frosting-flinging proportions. One of the show’s most touching moments occurred in 2019 when it held an emotional memorial service for the character Neil Winters, played by St. John, who died in real life that same year. And of course, what would a soap opera be without a mysterious twin? Y&R is famous for its numerous plot twists and secrets, and after actor Daniel Goddard’s character Cane Ashby was shot to death in a 2011 episode, the fan outcry over Goddard’s departure was so massive that he was brought back to the show months later, where it was revealed it was Cane’s brother Caleb who was killed.

What can we expect for The Young and the Restless’ 50th anniversary?

Dayanara Torres Delgado On The Set Of The Young And The Restless Television ShowFrederick M. Brown/Getty Images

To commemorate The Young and the Restless’ 50th anniversary, an hour-long Entertainment Tonight special that celebrates the show’s legacy is now available to stream on CBS.com and Paramount+. The special features interviews with cast and crew from the past and present, special behind-the-scenes footage, and stories from Genoa City that you’ve never heard before, plus clips of all of the most iconic scenes from the show over the years. You can also check out some bonus content from the set over on The Young and the Restless Instagram page. We’d suggest celebrating with a cake, but we all know how that will go with this cast. And thankfully, The Young and the Restless’ 50th season will not be it’s last, as the show has already been renewed through the 2024 season.