I second what someone said earlier...I prefer Brenda Epperson as Ashley. Likewise, I'm surprised Amelia H. has lasted so long as Victoria. Heather Tom had a strong energy, but it seemed they somewhere along the line the writers didn't know what to do with her and post David Kimble Nina. The Cole/Ryan debacle dragged on for a while. Also not feeling Jason Thompson as the current Billy. Billy Miller or David Tom were the best in that role, IMO.
From the clips and episodes posted it does seem that Y&R lost steam between 1994-1996 but really picked back up around 97-98 and kept that strong momentum going till about 2001. The Billy/Mac teen seen, Tricia, The Winters, Nikki vs Diane were all great during that era.
Similarly, B&B cooled down around 95 but got good again from 98-02.
I never made it through an episode of Bethenny Ever After because *her voice* for one hour straight is... woah. She alwsys seemed to be complaining a lot. Also, unlike S3 RHONY where there seemed to be some love between the two, there no longer seemed any connection between her and Hoppy after Bryn was born.
This is going to sound weird but watching Hoppy on RHONY, I felt like he had this soft, calm voice, but behind the eyes.... I don't know, it's not really proof one way or another of what kind of person he is, it was just a feeling. Someone very tightly wound, perfectionist, who was a few messily-folded towels away from snapping. Both he and Bethenny seem extremely controlling, which is a recipe for disaster.