Problem is Leeann should have been fired a long time ago. She threatened to kill someone in season 1, shoved a camera person in season 1, broke a wine glass and threatened someone with it, spread rumors about someone being gay, and also did the racist thing. I'm curious why that was the straw..and not the other things she pulled.
Brandi should have been downgraded to a friend...but I have a feeling Tiffany was hired to gather Brandi.
Regarding Karen, she's vile and is no grand dame. A true grand dame wouldn't deem to appear on a reality show.
I am not really sure where you can go with Sonny and Carly. They are past the point of a 3rd party love interest not named Brenda. Maybe they could put Jax into the mix, but the show isn't really going there. Carly has picked up some Brenda characteristics along the way and lost a lot of what made Carly different.
I agree that LW and MB are in it for the long haul, so the easiest thing to do is just keep them together. It's true they don't really have a story, they are just inserted to others. I think it's just a lazy way to keep a mildly popular couple together. LW does try, but MB can clearly care less about the Carson pairing. He doesn't even pretend to be into it. But the last time I thought MB was into a performance was probably 2011-2012 when his marriage to Brenda broke up and some of the Kate/Connie stuff. I guess he tried with the Mike stuff too.
I think the show could easily pair LW back up with Ingo, but Sonny doesn't really have anywhere to go.
Diane Jenkins and Hilary Curtis - Y&R
I mean, there are almost too many to list. Soaps can often be so short-sighted in their search for big climaxes to stories (for ratings), and one decision made by a single reckless regime can hobble a show for generations.