Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Five Ways to Fix The View

As longtime readers of this blog may remember, I was once a HUGE fan of The View.  However, because of my moral objections to Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine crusade, I couldn't find a way to watch the show once she came in to replace Joy Behar.  With this past week's announcement that both McCarthy and longtime panelist Sherri Shepherd were both leaving the series, I figured it was time for me to reevaluate my View embargo, but considering the mess that it's been left in (only Whoopi Goldberg is left as a permanent member of the panel), I think it is my duty to first provide a bit of advice to the show that clearly needs it after a rough season.  Here are five ways I think Bill and Barbara (or whomever-it seems even Bill Geddie may be removed from the show at this point) can fix a show that was once appointment viewing on daytime television but has since become a mess.

1. Get the Show Back to Current Events

The reason The View initially came into being was because Barbara Walters wanted a cross-section of American women to discuss the major issues of the day.  In the earlier days of the show, smart, successful women like Meredith Vierra, Star Jones, and Barbara Walters would discuss serious issues affecting the nation.  In a landscape of cooking segments and softball interviews with random feel good newsmakers that day, it's refreshing to see a group of smart people discussing serious issues onscreen.  The show has lost that edge though, particularly with Walters leaving.  Even when Elisabeth Hasselbeck was on the show, there was a counterpoint to the show and she and Joy could have a debate.  Now there's not enough intellectual heft to the topics that are discussed, with more focus being put on Kim Kardashian's nuptials than what the President is doing in the Ukraine.  We're not asking for Morning Joe or Fox and Friends here, but the balance toward pop culture has gotten seriously out-of-hand.

2. Figure Out a Way to Maintain a Panel

This is what the show desperately needs more than anything-a panel of women that will stick around for a while.  The show lives and dies off of chemistry between the panelists, both the positive (Hasselbeck/Shepherd, Walters/Behar) and the negative (O'Donnell/Hasselbeck, Jones/Walters), but you need a panel of women that we can count on every week.  It's ridiculous that nearly a year has passed since Elisabeth Hasselbeck left the show and there isn't a permanent replacement for her on the panel.  Now there are four openings-the show would be smart to just roll out several people come this autumn. And while I'm not going to spend a lot of time picking who those women should be, I will say...

3. Hire Katie Couric

She can still do whatever it is she's doing at Yahoo (speaking of which-what is going on at Yahoo...though that may be fodder for a different article), but the show needs a respected journalistic heavyweight on the show to fill Walters' shoes, and Couric, coming off of a failed talk show, would be the perfect option.  She's great in an interview, can work with both hardball and softball news segments, and like Walters, can come on the show 3-4 days a week to balance the rest of the schedule.  She's under contract to ABC News still-this isn't that hard of an option to make.  Plus, it would give The View a new major name and who wouldn't want to see Couric get involved in major debates?  Walters still managed to put her two cents in without risking journalistic neutrality, why can't Couric?

4. Hire Some New Names

On the opposite end, the show should take this opportunity to bring in some new names.  I've heard Bethenny Frankel as an option, but that just seems to be a retread of other talk shows (plus, it ruins my Couric option if they hire another recent failed talk show host), and Frankel doesn't add any new elements.  Think of someone like Michael Strahan, who was a breath of fresh air after years of Regis Philbin, and has become the unlikely face of morning television.  There's something to be said for America discovering a new talent or personality, and provided that they have the ability to interview without completely becoming the story (no one wants someone completely ostentatious that will just grab headlines for the sake of it, but instead perhaps grab headlines for their opinions), then this is a great idea.

5. You Need an Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Much has been made about how the show needs a Latina (this is true, for the record, though not really the point I'm making here), but what the show truly needs is a new conservative voice.  What made Elisabeth Hasselbeck so perfect for the show (yes, I said perfect, and I'll stand behind that) is that she wasn't a conservative host that was going to completely alienate the audience in a way that Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham might have.  She held views that the rest of the panel (and quite frankly, the bulk of the audience) likely disagreed with, but she made up for it by both A) coming at her views from a very genuine place and B) holding her own in an argument.  Much was made of her arguments with Rosie, but she boned up on her credentials in the years that followed and frequently made fairly sound arguments amidst the "too good for the room" snark that sometimes came from Whoopi or Joy.  You need that counterpoint to have decent arguments on the air, and you need someone who can maintain likability in the harshest of circumstances.  Perhaps go with a former politician or political analyst to keep the panel savvy?  Worth a thought.

And those are my suggestions on how ABC can make The View just a little stronger.  What are yours?  How would you fix this show?  What do you think will happen next for the panel/series?  Share in the comments!

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