Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Regarding The “New” View

Today marks a week since the new and retooled version of The View started and I have a few things to say about it.

This is an especially important moment for the long-standing program because it’s the first season without its creator at the helm, Barbara Walters. While her send off last season was tearful and rightfully grandiose, she left big heels to fill. After all, who can replace BabaWaba? The short answer is: no one. And thankfully no one at The “New” View is trying to.

The cast of characters this year is diminished to four, but that’s about as diminished as these ladies get. The incomparable Whoopi Goldberg returns to the show as its moderator and resident pragmatic voice. Seated to her left is perhaps the least known of the bunch, Nicolle Wallace. More on Ms. Wallace in a minute. Actress Rosie Perez is the first Latina panelist on the show and quite the firecracker. (I’m Hispanic too; I can call her a firecracker if I want to!) And finally, Rosie O’Donnell returns to the program after a contentious exit a few years ago.

Going into this season, I really believed that Rosie O. was going to be the only panelist I would gravitate toward. I’ve loved and followed her career as closely as any non-stalker can. I mean, I was a card-carrying member of the Chub Club. While I remain loyal to and loving of Rosie O., the truth is that the dynamic between all four women is very entertaining. Having two icons of comedy, a Puerto Rican, and a smarty-pants Republican is turning out to be a recipe for really good TV.

In many ways, Nicolle Wallace has turned out to be their trump card. (I hope I used that expression correctly). What I mean to say is that Ms. Wallace is the surprise success story of the season. As the table’s lone Republican and former advisor to Sarah Palin, you’d think that the jokes would write themselves. And they do, only she’s usually the first one pulling the punch line. She’s not only an articulate and respected figure in the Republican establishment, but she’s genuinely thrilled to be around celebrities. In this way, and despite being a conservative, she’s really relatable; a characteristic that her former boss can’t begin to understand. Partisan jabs aside, Ms. Wallace is a welcomed breath of fresh air on the show. Although her interviewing skills could use a little work, I’m eager to follow her journey from cable news talking head to well-rounded talk show host. Keep it up!

All that said, I have to confess that I am a little disappointed with the topics they call “hot” lately. Although issues of domestic violence and child abuse are very important and topical, they are not all that there is to talk about. Coming back from an especially contentious summer, I would’ve liked to hear their thoughts on Ferguson, the continued unrest in the Middle East, or the troubling situation in Ukraine. I think I was especially disappointed today that no one brought up the Climate Marches that happened across the world this past weekend—the biggest being in their very own city. 

Still they’ve done several wonderful things, too. 

Ms. Goldberg’s segment with friend and colleague Billy Crystal about the recently departed Robin Williams literally made me cry into my pile of folded laundry. I have always found it incredibly gut-wrenching when funny people are sad. Perhaps more than even Mr. Crystal’s tribute at the Emmy’s, this moment with Ms. Goldberg on The View gave me the closure I needed. You too can watch it here.

Rosie O.’s interview with her idol Barbra Streisand was also a winning moment for the show. Any time you get those two women together, you know you’re gonna see something magical. As both a friend and a fan, Rosie interviews Barbra the way I think many of us would if we got the chance to interview our idols. It’s raw and genuine. Also and unrelated, Barbra’s new album Partners is really fantastic.

Long story short: The new View is actually a lot like the old View. It’s still a bunch of interesting and successful women, sitting around a table, talking about things we all should.

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