Reader, these past few weeks I have been watching some daytime TV. I cable access where I live. Instead, I’ve been watching clips on YouTube. Specifically, I started watching the long-running daytime talk show “The View.”
I’m not sure what got me to start watching “The View,” but once I started, I couldn’t stop.
“The View” is a daytime talk show where five women sit around a semicircle table and discuss the day’s topics, ranging from marital squabbles to political events. They also have interviews, from Hollywood celebrities to prominent political figures, and fun segments to keep things light. The show was started by the legendary Barbara Walters and has been on-air for 20 years. The all-woman lineup has gone through many changes, although a few have endured for long stretches.
What intrigued me most were the political segments. This current cast contains women with different socio-political backgrounds. Currently on the show are Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg (both liberal), Meghan McCain and Abby Huntsman (both conservative), and Sunny Hostin (a moderate). They have open, sometimes heated discussions about political issues, ranging from the President’s ties to Russia to the Dan Crenshaw SNL controversy.
These discussions — which feature each host’s opinion — are also informative. The show tries its best to provide facts, and to correct itself when the hosts cross the boundary from opinion to fiction. And the variety of backgrounds on the panel keep each host in check, challenging their opinions and pushing all of them to have a discussion that isn’t one sided.
I do find the discussions interesting — it gives me a variety of views on the topics of the day. But over time, I realized why I kept watching the videos. It was the first platform I found where an all-woman group discussed imperative current events and their impact on American society.
For sure, I listen to podcasts and watch news clips featuring women, but there are always men (often outnumbering the women) talking too. And, reader, I’m not saying that men should not be part of political discussions. That’s absurd. It was simply refreshing for me to absorb perspectives on current events from a panel that only had female voices. For the first time, I saw my relationships with other women represented on mainstream television. There had been representation of women friend groups on television, but rarely did they talk about anything but romantic relationships or family squabbles. “The View” offers an all-encompassing coverage of what American women talk about — serious current events and fluffy gossip.
I am sure there are now other shows or podcasts out there that also feature an all-woman discussion of current events. But “The View” was at its time revolutionary — no daytime talk show (primarily targeted at middle-aged women) had hard hitting content, lacking the fluff of other daytime talk shows. This show has tackled issues from LGBTQ rights to school shootings, treating the issues and their audience seriously. It was the first show where women’s political and social views on current societal issues were prominently featured.
“The View” isn’t perfect — over its 20 year run, it has had many controversies and questionable producing decisions. But, for me, its significance is something bigger than the show itself. In this current era, there’s a lot of talk about representation, and one of the underrepresented aspects of womanhood is the acknowledgement that women’s lives — like all lives — are multi-dimensional. You bet I can gab about light-hearted topics, but I can also engage in heavy discussion about sensitive topics. And “The View” is one of the first platforms I’ve found that displays this.