They used to be called soap operas, mainly because their main advertisers manufactured detergent and other soap-based products that our stay-at-home mothers and grandmothers bought. And once upon a time, there were several hours worth of these programs on all three major TV networks, and our moms and grandmas planned their day around their favorites.
Times Have Changed
Now daytime dramas are few and far between…and maybe a guilty pleasure. One of the CBS mainstays is The Young and the Restless. One story thread is weaving its way through the usual script of wealthy, well-dressed people engaged in canoodling and corporate scandal. A female character is exhibiting signs of depression and isolation manifesting in a suicide attempt.
The network prefaced the program with an on-screen warning: Today’s episode contains sensitive and potentially disturbing content for some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. If you are in a crisis, or want to talk to someone, Call 988. Trained counselors are available 24/7.
At the end of the most poignant episode, the featured actors in the scene appeared as themselves and reiterated that help is only a phone call away and that trained counselors are always available at 988. The on-screen graphic also cited https://save.org/.
Moments like these are the salvation of network television. This program will be viewed by millions of people over the air and on multiple streaming platforms. This powerful story thread is likely to capture other media attention, too. A medium that is usually chastised for mindless programming – especially by dollar-conscious networks – still has the power to change lives.
Who is Responsible?
Public service announcements are no longer required on radio or television. Any entity can buy a commercial, but it’s expensive. When a television program organically integrates this kind of message into its script, it’s powerful. By adding a trigger warning before the show begins and a ‘call to action’ at the end, the writers/producer/network are consciously stepping up and demonstrating a committment.
Thank you to The Young and The Restless writers for telling this story and for CBS for believing in the message. And yes, help is only a phone call away, anytime.