Over the course of the last decade, the daytime talk show has entered a decline. What was once a place for cultural and social commentary and trendsetting, the social media age—where anyone, let alone celebrities, are able to have a platform to discuss anything and everything—has rendered the talk show, at least in its classic definition, somewhat obsolete. The View gets by thanks to the eternally stormy political climate of the United States, with politics pushing pop culture, the panel’s former touchstone, to the backburner. Ever since Oprah went off the air in 2011, networks have been tirelessly trying to find something new to fill the void. It was most often filled by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has recently fallen into hopeless disrepute after countless claims of workplace misconduct blew the lid off of Ellen’s “be kind” mantras.
In the last decade, we’ve seen attempts made at talk shows by Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, Queen Latifah, Meredith Vieira, and more—with none lasting beyond three years. Last year, NBC decided that they might’ve had something with Kelly Clarkson’s popularity as the two-time host of the annual Billboard Music Awards, launching The Kelly Clarkson Show that fall. And while the singer’s personality and talent certainly shine through during her monologues and “Kelly-oke” segments, it feels safe to say that while Clarkson has many talents, talk show host isn’t one of them. (Kelly Clarkson is a national treasure and I would never dream of tarnishing her good name, but a good interviewer she is not. I said what I said!) Now, with Ellen’s reputation and legacy hanging by a thread (DeGeneres claims “yes, we’re gonna talk about it” on next week’s season premiere), CBS has pooled funding into a new daytime talk show effort of their own: The Drew Barrymore Show.
Not that Barrymore’s own legacy and talent needs any justification, but it seems appropriate to allege that her influence, star power, and genuine zest for life is brighter than any other celebrity attempts at hosting a talk show in recent memory. In the social media age of influencers and “mom life,” Barrymore’s charming disposition and love of silliness doesn’t feel fake or fabricated—it feels honest and from the heart. (Not to say that I ever personally believed Ellen was a phony in the past, but if you’ve told me she is, I’d believe it.)
It feels really easy for anyone to become “famous” in our current era, whether through social media or infamy, so the fact that someone like Drew Barrymore—who will tell you herself that she’s done it all, including infamy—is taking a stab at a daytime talk show in a time where it’s easier to get our information and perspectives from our Twitter feed than our televisions… it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. Lest we forget that, aside from social media moving in on talk shows, this has also been a rather difficult year for mankind to say the least, and who better than Barrymore to help us find our footing again? Apropos considering the actress-turned-producer has been finding her own footing in front of an audience for her entire life.
The first few episodes of The Drew Barrymore Show have received mixed reviews. While some have commended its overt and obvious themes of positivity (of which Drew has radiated every day so far), it seems as though that positivity is lost on the popular culture of today. Perhaps if Twitter had existed during The Rosie O’Donnell Show’s heyday, Barrymore’s quirky news segment called “Drew’s News” wouldn’t seem so bizarre and “bad” to some. I’ll admit, upon repeated viewings, that bit about the 62-year-old python laying eggs during the series premiere could have landed better. But the general public is also quick to judge a talk show, let alone a brand new talk show, that is also finding its footing with this year’s ban on studio audiences and producers figuring out how to fill the silences in real time on national television.
Are we even going to talk about Barrymore’s interview with her longtime friends and Charlie’s Angels co-stars, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, and the fact that Diaz wasn’t even there? Not a virtual interview, dear reader. To the unsuspecting eye, Diaz and Liu were on the same stage as Barrymore in New York. But in reality, Diaz was actually in Los Angeles, and it appeared as though she was actually there courtesy of a hologram. So perhaps we shouldn’t underestimate modern technology’s abilities to bridge the gap of things that were so thoughtlessly robbed from us by the coronavirus crisis. One thing that it doesn’t help talk shows with is, however, social media’s tendency to grab clips from something that would otherwise be lost to time, and replay it on a loop for everyone to laugh and gawk at. (Moral of the story, it’s her first week! Give Drew a chance!)
For some, Ellen used to be their daily beacon of positivity. But even before recent developments came to light, that show never truly replaced the immortal Oprah Winfrey Show, where audience members were encouraged to listen and learn, but also to laugh and to dance and to embrace life’s brief moments where the positivity of silliness is needed. Sure, I love Ellen scaring people as much as the next guy, but there’s more to life than that, you know? Not that any future talk show could ever actually fill Oprah’s shoes, and nor would we want it to. But who better than Drew Barrymore, who’s been around the block enough times to know the importance of positivity and silliness, to not only take a stab at a modern talk show but also to bring a much-needed smile to our faces during an absolute dumpster fire of a year? While I do miss the heydays of the daytime talk show pre-social media, I’m also intrigued, interested, and hopeful that we can one day find a new talk show formula for the modern age. My seatbelt is securely fastened for Drew’s turn in the conductor’s seat.