The View is part of my morning routine. I work late and sleep late, so the show usually serves as background for sorting through my e-mail. Last season, Rosie O’Donnell made me pay closer attention than I had in the past, not just because of the funny or controversial things she said, but because she talked about her spouse and family in the same way the straight women did. Every day, Rosie let America know that lesbian couples were just like anyone else. Whatever else you think about Rosie, give her props for that. I was sorry to see her go.
But I was thrilled when Whoopi Goldberg was announced as Rosie’s replacement. I love and admire Whoopi and knew she would be liberal and gay-friendly in her opinions in, perhaps, a less edgy way than Rosie. Plus, The View desperately needed a woman of color in the mix.
After a few days — and a bit of controversy when she suggested that Michael Vick might have been brought up to think dogfighting was OK — Whoopi settled in and seemed comfortable in first chair. In fact, she is the perfect moderator. She is strong but gracious, able to keep the discussion moving and prevent verbal brawls, and adept at politely but firmly pausing the chatter for commercial breaks.
Comedienne Sherri Shepherd joined the table as well, giving The View five cohosts for the first time since Star Jones left in 2005.
I expected Shepherd to liven things up. I’ve always been a fan, especially when she was on Ellen, and she fit in well when she guest-hosted on The View. But she’s lost me. She’s even more conservative than Elizabeth — and less informed. The defining moment of her short tenure was during a discussion about evolution.
Even Elizabeth was speechless.
How are the ratings? According to ABC, the number of viewers is up 16 percent from this time last year. But other sources, including Rosie’s blog, claim that the increase is about half that. More relevantly, ratings are down 19 percent among women ages 18–34 and up only in the over-50 age group — not good news in terms of advertising dollars.
My opinion? Meh. I feel bad saying that, I really do. Honestly, The View is better than it was before Rosie was on it. The women don’t shy away from disagreements on politics or discussions of sensitive topics (although my life would have been much happier had I never heard Barbara Walters say the word “clitoris”). They seem to have good chemistry. But Rosie brought something to the show that it never had before and has lost now that she’s gone — the element of surprise.
Oh, I’ll hang in there. As I said, The View is part of my morning routine. But this season is, well, routine. And I can’t help being a bit sad about that.
Have you been watching? Do you like the show more with Whoopi moderating? What do you think of Sherri? And does it make you feel as weird as I do to hear Barbara talk about her sex life?