Actor Bryton James has been speaking to my heart over the past few days in his role as Devon Hamilton on The Young and the Restless. When it was first discovered that he was Tucker’s son, I wanted to write a piece on it, but I am glad that I waited.
Paternity (and in some cases, maternity) is a staple of daytime drama. It can be argued that “Who’s the daddy” storylines on soaps are the reason that DNA tests are so popular on Maury to this day. So while we may groan at the Malcolm-Sofia-Neil paternity quagmire, we secret want and need such drama in our shows.
On the other hand, Y&R has those characters who are on a constant quest of self-discovery. I was sympathetic with Jill when she discovered that she was really a Fenmore and Jill wouldn’t acknowledge her. All Jill ever really needed was to be loved and to know that she was loved. Isn’t that what we all want in some way? But when Lauren initially rejected Jill, it stung for me because of my own “other family.”
I was born out of wedlock and raised by s single mother. My father was never there for me. This lack of interest in my life was reaffirmed when I reached out to him as a young adult and he told me to stop attempting to contact him and “his” family.
Father of the year, right? At least Victor Newman claimed his own…
Years after that, I discovered that my blood brother had become a member of the same fraternity as me. Although I reached out and we made a connection in 2007, we have yet to meet face to face.
He lives in the next county over from me.
I’m not sure how much space and time I need to give my “other” family before they accept me, but I’m resigned to the fact that it may be the 32nd of Neveruary before that happens.
I’m happy for Jill.
If Jill represents the sometimes fragile and delicate side of me which can easily wilt at the thought of rejection, Devon represents the tough, “strong black man” archetype which every black man is or aspires to be at some point. He is a protective brother, loyal son, and good friend. His background isn’t identical to mine (though he was emotionally and physically abandoned by his father) but he still has that tough, “I can do it myself” outer shell. He doesn’t “need” anyone, but he chooses to need Neil Winters. He chooses to be vulnerable to Lily Winters. He chooses to rely on Malcolm Winters. This is his family – the one that he chose and the one that chose him.
Bryton James has been acting the hell out of this part. So has Jeanne Cooper.
The range of emotions that each has displayed though these scenes has been phenomenal. One can’t help but imagine what a wonderful reunion of grandmother and grandchild this could have been if Mrs. Chancellor had just gotten it together and done the right thing.
Rightfully so, Devon can’t forgive her just yet. And he doesn’t even want to be a son to Tucker. I’d be heated as well if the man who fired me turned out to be my father.
For those of us with these sorts of paternal issues, Devon Hamilton, expertly exemplified by Bryton James, has given a voice to those frustrations. I will probably never be able to adequately write about the frustration and disappointment I feel because of my own father, much less will I be able to adequately explain how the absence as a father has impacted me, for the worse as well as for the better.
But if you want just a taste of how that feels, check out Bryton’s portrayal of Devon as this story unfolds. I am digging it.