July 2, 2008

Need a Pal? Tune in Daytime TV

By Molly Willow, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Jul. 2--While watching Michelle Obama recently on The View, something occurred to me.

"Hey," I thought, "I'm watching The View."

I don't often see daytime television because, like many of you, I work during the day. Also, I don't like my conversations to be one-sided.

Yet that's why daytime television is there: More than any other chunk of programming, talk shows exist to provide companionship. (More people probably feel closer to Oprah Winfrey than, say, Brian Williams of NBC News.)

I recently spent some quality time on my couch with some popular daytime personalities to see what they have to bring to a small-screen friendship.

10 a.m.

Rachael Ray

The show is hosted by the Food Network star who isn't trained as a chef or talk-show host.

Ray has parlayed her unpolished skills into a cooking-and-talk-show empire (and a Daytime Emmy for best talk show). Her set is a kitchen, with interviews conducted at a table. She is sometimes awkward with guests and seems to fear silence.

Perfect viewer: the casual foodie who finds Martha Stewart too


11 a.m.

The Martha Stewart Show

The only daytime show hosted by a felon is also the most prim. Her opening monologue is a babble of name brands and name-dropping. She's apt to force a celebrity guest to join in a craft project (using her brand of products), remaining blissfully unaware that not everyone finds it so fascinating.

Perfect viewer: the green thumb who needs to kill an hour before a tennis lesson at the club

The View

Five women jockey for verbal position while discussing the day's news and fawning over celeb guests.

Whoopi Goldberg is a thoughtful, quick moderator; and Joy Behar and new addition Sherri Shepherd are funny, self-effacing peers. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the conservative, is too easily talked over. The weak link is Barbara Walters, who desperately wants to be one of the girls but

dishes with all the awkwardness of a grandmother talking to her bridge partners about The Hills.

Perfect viewer: the entertainment junkie who likes to argue

2 p.m.

The Tyra Banks Show

Tyra put herself on the daytime map by donning a swimsuit and praising her curves after unflattering photos of her were published. Her talker won the new Daytime Emmy category for "informative" show, but, given that the competition included Dr. Phil, I'm not sure how much of a feat that is.

Perfect viewer: the younger person who likes to get her news from the National Enquirer

3 p.m.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Ellen is the best of the bunch -- which is why she has been named best host for four years running (although Oprah doesn't enter). Ellen is witty, self-deprecating and easy to relate to; and seems genuinely interested in her guests. Plus, she dances to hip-hop.

Perfect viewer: the person at home during the day who wants to laugh

4 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey

I'm not going to say anything bad about the queen of daytime. Do you think I'm crazy?

Perfect viewer: the potential future president of the United States, A-list celebrities and anyone who might need a new car

Molly Willow writes about television for The Dispatch.

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