All Hail: Oprah’s need for stimulating conversations

I go to therapy just about every day.
Well, not exactly. To be clear, I try to do something therapeutic every day, something cathartic. It might come off as self absorbed, or ‘new age,’ at its best, but it tends to work from time to time. My outlets vary.
Exercise actually works, but the Marino Center is a bit too far away for me. Still, I force myself to go about twice a week. Every so often, I’ll turn to writing. I’ll update one of my three journals. On good days, it’s the gratitude journal, on bad days, the one with the missing cover and tattered rim. In the third journal, I keep track of the lessons I’ve learned or the things I am most certain of. The title is a bit long, but I’ve nicknamed it the ‘What I Know for Sure’ journal.
I pulled many of the ideas for my journal from The Oprah Winfrey Show, my third, and most efficient form of therapy.
I turn to Oprah whenever I can. An hour of Oprah usually puts me through the same motions a session of therapy does. I’ll laugh a bit, sometimes out of nervousness for her guests, who may be intimidated, and I’ll usually choke up at some point during an episode, even if it’s about bra sizes. The point is, she has a way of connecting with people, and I am one of them.
With that being said, I must express my recent disappointment in one of Oprah’s moves. No, not endorsing Barack Obama, or disclaiming the rumors or requests to have Sarah Palin on the show before the election; that’s her prerogative. My issue, or concern, lies with her weekly Friday panel, which consists of Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King; Kelly Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos; and George Stephanopoulos’ wife, Alexandra ‘Ali’ Wentworth.
The panel, which begins by recapping the shows that aired earlier in the week, is formatted similarly to that of ‘The View,’ except that all four hosts remain fairly civil to each other. Actually, they get along quite well on camera. Each of the four panelists have voiced support, or at least sincere admiration, for Obama during the past year, which is a topic that is discussed and agreed upon almost every Friday. King holds her own, as does Oprah. The two of them seem confident on stage, and have proven themselves entertaining in the past; their 2006 road trip, their trip to Miraval Spa, etc.
Wentworth, on the other hand, attempts a joke every few minutes, most of which are not funny, and Consuelos, while attractive and probably appealing to most Oprah viewers, is hardly vocal most of the time. ‘I just pipe in now and then,’ he told the New York Post in November. ‘[Oprah, King and Wentworth] make it really easy for me.’
As a talk show fanatic, I must say that easy doesn’t usually result in entertainment. Most people wouldn’t say Elisabeth Hasselbeck has it easy on ‘The View,’ but that is why we watch (and love) her. And let’s not forget about Hannity & Colmes, that could get your blood boiling, at least it can for me. When it comes to panels, viewers need to hear arguments, we need a few stimulating conversations.
Oprah has managed to hold engaged conversations for almost 25 years, but the panel just isn’t cutting it, if you ask me. King and Oprah throw around past memories every so often, Wentworth takes a few too many stabs at humor and Consuelos sits there looking pretty.
The Oprah website promotes the panel as the ‘most opinionated trio on TV!’ Eh, let’s try another word.

‘- Sean Leviashvili is a middler journalism major
and member of The News Staff.

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