How did ‘Young and Restless’ pull off Best Drama Series upset at Daytime Emmys?

The Daytime Emmys ended with a shock when “The Young and the Restless” defeated defending champ “Days of Our Lives” for Best Drama Series. Two-thirds of our experts and a strong majority of users thought “Days” would win back-to-back prizes. So what happened?

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The answer, I think, is in the episode submissions. “Days of Our Lives” submitted a pair of episodes featuring a wealth of dramatic shockers including a busted-up relationship, two separate rape revelations, and a wedding-day sex tape. But it couldn’t trump “Y&R,” which packed a bigger emotional punch.

“Y&R’s” submitted episodes originally aired mere days apart and were part of the same storyline: the hit-and-run killing of Delia, the young daughter of Billy Abbott (Best Actor winner Billy Miller) and Chloe Mitchell (Best Supporting Actress nominee Elizabeth Hendrickson). Unlike “Days,” whose episodes were more diffuse, featuring multiple storylines, “Y&R” had the benefit of one heartbreaking story with no distractions.

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It probably also helped that the two episodes were creatively diverse. The first episode was largely a fantasy, in which Billy, caring for Delia by the side of the road, imagines what her life would have been like: from her first date, to her college graduation, to the birth of her child.

The second episode is more traditionally structured, gathering the ensemble cast at the hospital right after Delia is pronounced dead. Elsewhere, Adam Newman (Michael Muhney) is guilt-ridden after realizing that it was he who unknowingly hit and killed Delia.

Perhaps voters also found the “Y&R” story more accessible. Mourning the death of a child and searching for those responsible is easier to digest out of context than the “Days” episodes, in which we learn, among other things, that the bride (Best Actress winner Eileen Davidson) at a wedding drugged and raped the groom’s brother, who also happened to be the priest officiating the ceremony.

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Jill Farren-Phelps, who accepted the Drama Series trophy at the end of the night, is the executive producer of “Y&R,” and if nothing else she knows how to craft Emmy-friendly event episodes. From 2001-2012 she was the executive producer of “General Hospital,” which won Best Drama four times during her tenure (2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) for flashy showcase episodes including a hotel fire and a train wreck.

“GH” still holds the record for the most ever Drama Series victories (11), but with Farren-Phelps’s help, “Y&R” could soon catch up. This year’s win was the eighth for the top-rated CBS sudser.

What did you think of this year’s Best Drama Series race? Did the right show win? Join the passionate discussion in our forums.

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