Has the View Ruined Public Perception of Women?

Since Michael Strahan's public exit from Live! this past spring, fans have been buzzing about who will replace him on the popular morning show. 

Reports indicate that Kelly Ripa will be joined by a female co-host, with many pop culture reporters claiming that Kelly and a second female voice would be a refreshing change from the male/female small talk and interview concept. However, some armchair critics claim that two women would turn the show from a fun companion to morning coffee to a catty screechfest and guests would feel attacked. 

The idea of a two woman panel being unpopular has been said numerous times before. A popular radio personality in the Windsor-Detroit area (who has requested to remain anonymous) was told by her producer that two women hosting a morning show would be disastrous, as two women simply aren't funny. While researching this topic, I found only one radio show hosted by an all woman panel, the Trifecta with Spain, Jane and Kate. There are very few women in radio, let alone hosting their own show.

Why is it that we don't see a lot of interview shows with all female panels? Why are we not seeing more women hosted shows or podcasts?

The short answer: The View.

While Barbara Walters's original concept for the View was such a good one, after 19 years on the air, it's become a shell of itself. Instead of being seen as women of different value systems and age groups discussing current events, people automatically think of Rosie O'Donnell screaming at Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the Iraq War, or Raven Symone screaming at Candace Cameron-Bure about a wedding cake. People automatically think of things like Joy Behar mocking nurses to help boost sagging ratings. No longer do people see the View as a show where women talk about hot button issues representing various walks of life, it's seen as a bunch of harpies attacking their guests and then each other. They're seen as a bunch of women who hate each other and every one around them. Because this is considered the most successful show with an all women panel, the negative connotations surrounding the View (and even the similarly themed show The Talk) perpetuate the idea that women are angry, moody, and consistently talk smack about each other.

But why can't two women be funny, witty and friendly? Obviously the formula works as Spain, Jane and Kate have broken into a man's world (sports reporting) and have become successful. We've seen some amazing female comedy teams, like Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb have been a successful duo for many years. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey made the SNL Weekend Update a hit (although they have been known for their catty insults towards other women and could stand a lesson in kindness). Why couldn't Kelly Ripa find a co-host that she could have the same rapport with? We need to change how women are seen on TV. Let's focus more on the friendships of Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb and less on the cattiness of the View. Let's see more tandems like Spain, Jane and Kate on the air and less two man groups talking about boobs. There are a lot of positive examples of two women tandems on TV and in film. Let's focus on them and not the women of the View.

We need more women on radio and TV doing their thing. Little girls who want to be on radio, hosting their own show would be hard pressed to find a role model, outside of a minor co-host and definitely not two women hosting their own show. We've made so much progress as a society. Let's keep working to end the catty stigma and continue to celebrate women who not only showcase funny, but witty, friendly and engaging. Not just on TV but everywhere.

Kelly Ripa is a smart businesswoman as well as a successful TV host. She's going to pick someone who not only works well with her personality, but is genuinely excited to be on the show with her and the guests. She will pick the right person, male or female, for the job and continue to make Live! a fun part of the morning.

Published by Mary-Helen Clark


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