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An ode to daytime talk shows

The Talk, The View, The Chew, The Real, Today—all of these shows (and more!) are a part of our lives, probably even more than we realize. To provide an anecdote, my mom will often tell me what Tameron Hall or Al Roker did on Today, as if she’s talking about a family friend who happened to call her that day.

We love daytime television. But why do we love it? What is it about daytime television (and the hosts that present it) that mentally forces us to accept these shows into our homes and our lives? I watch a ton of daytime television, and I’ve found myself wondering these exact thoughts. Because I have some time on my hands to ponder, three possible answers have come to mind. One or all of them could be right.

1. The hosts do become like an extra group of friends or family.

There is something alchemical that happens when people watch daytime television. Much like how avid soap-opera watchers become intimately entangled in the characters’ lives, sometimes to the point of forgetting where the fake story ends and reality begins, a lot of us daytime TV watchers forget that we don’t actually know the Tameron Halls and Al Rokers and Julie Chens who host these shows. But their constant presence in our homes make us believe we know everything about them.

Of course, there’s a financial gain from this; the networks get to have a loyal base consistently watching their programming. The production teams hope to have hosts who can be charismatic and engaging enough that folks feel like they’re seeing a trusted face on screen. Their personable attitudes make even casual viewers pause to listen to what they’ve got to say, because they immediately feel like that group of cool friends or family members that somehow know everything and seem like they have their lives together. Of course, the reality is that they’re human, so they have problems like the rest of us. But still, they seem like they’ve got things figured out, so why not trust them and their opinions?

But there’s also a very emotional outlet that comes with these hosts and their audience. Sometimes, these hosts are actually stand-in cures for loneliness or distractions from depression and anxiety. Sometimes their presence is more important than what they’ve got to tell viewers about the weather or the topic of the day. Sometimes, seeing these hosts on screen gives people the courage they need to get through the rest of the day. Things aren’t always that major, but for some out there, anything is a lifeline.

2. Daytime television provides comfortable predictability.

To go along with the first point, there’s a soothing element to daytime television’s predictability. For instance, with Today, you know you’re going to get the first part, which is more of a quasi-hard-news magazine. Then you get the second part, Today’s Take, in which you get the lighter news, cooking segments, and general frivolity. Then there’s the Kathy Lee and Hoda hour, in which the chardonnay hits the fan. Each segment has its own subsegments of talk, banter, demos, makeovers, and hilarious cutaways.

After a while, you know what you’ll see each day and at what time, and usually, if no one’s taking a vacation or has retired, it’s the same faces every day that present you what you already expect. It’s a way to mindlessly control life, the uncontrollable. In life, nothing is a given. But the predictability of daytime talk shows, as well as other predictable moments in life, lull viewers into believing that everything will always be the same, that the unthinkable and unknowable are farther away than we think. The real truth is that the predictability we all crave and achieve at times is just a mirage to help us get on with life. But it helps if that mirage is also providing you with cool tips for a summer luncheon.

3. Gender politics.

There’s no area of television more conformed to gender politics than daytime television. It’s still a studio practice to gear daytime television toward women, particularly women who stay at home. Thinking of daytime television that way kind of ridiculous nowadays, because it’s not the 1950s, and women can choose to stay at home or choose to go to work if they want to, and more men are stay-at-home dads now than ever. So why the networks still think only women are in their living rooms in the daytime is beyond 21st-century logic. But somehow, the structure has remained. Most of the topics on daytime television concern what are considered “women’s interests,” like makeovers, cooking, gabbing around the table about stuff, and finding good deals on necessities and hot gifts.

The focus on women is definitely at play on shows like Steve Harvey, in which Harvey gives advice to women in search of a good man. Even soap operas have remained on television during the day, hoping to convince women to buy certain products during the commercial breaks, just like in the olden days. That’s how the “soap” in “soap opera” came to be: So many soap companies were sponsoring the dramas, hoping the homemaker would buy their wares, that the term “soap opera” was born.

The interesting thing is that many women, including myself, regularly tune in, regardless of their opinions on gender roles. Is it because we’ve been indoctrinated into thinking daytime television is a woman’s domain? Do the shows really discuss issues women are truly adamant about, or have we just been trained to like makeovers and such? I’d say both the networks and society are at fault for this narrow-minded viewpoint of women’s interests … yet I do love good makeovers and style tips. See? it’s a vicious circle.

In the end, daytime television serves a purpose, and I’m glad it’s here. What do you think about daytime television? Give your opinions below!

TV Families | EW.com
February 23, 1990 at 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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