The Final Countdown

In case you haven’t heard, the end is nigh.

Not just the End of Days — which is allegedly this Saturday, by the way (fine, but can it all shake out after my fabulous dinner reservation?). 

But worse.

The end of Oprah.

I don’t often tackle controversy around here, unless you count things like the best movies ever, or whether or not I should have been detained for accidentally attempting car theft.

But there’s something I have to put out there, and I think many of you aren’t going to like it. 

I don’t like The Oprah Winfrey Show.  And I can’t wait until it’s finally over.

Should I seek a spot in the witness protection program?  Probably.  It’s a terribly un-American attitude to have towards one of our country’s sweethearts.

So let me clarify a few things.

I think she’s a brilliant businesswoman.  I admire her philanthropy and generosity.  She brings important issues to light.  She does far more good than harm. 

So what’s my problem, you ask?

It’s the whole Oprah Empire.  Or what has been labeled in the media as The Oprah Effect.  I feel like she has her hands in everything.

A TV show!  A magazine!  A book club!  Oprah Radio! A TV network dedicated to all things Oprah! {Because if the episodes themselves weren’t enough, you must have a behind-the-scenes look at them.}

I guess I like my TV hosts, well, just hosting their TV shows.  And making an occasional, Oscar-worthy turn in a movie, maybe. 

Before you hang me in public, let me be fair.  I haven’t been home to watch her show for 98% of the time it’s been aired, so I’ve had limited exposure.  

And yet, I still feel her Oprahness in everything around us.

I just think we, as a country, have Oprahdosed.  And it’s time to come down.

It’s the book club in particular that I think I have a problem with.   By pure coincidence, I happened to catch one of her most infamous episodes while home sick a few years ago.  It was the day she raked James Frey over the coals for the is-it-or-is-it-not-fiction smackdown of “A Million Little Pieces.”

And I do mean smackdown.  Whoa.

That scared me.  Not because she is personally scary, but because it was clear that she felt some sort of personal stake in what people read.  Some moral authority over a writer who is not on her payroll.  And this confused me to no end.  I thought perhaps my fever had spiked to the point of hallucination.

Yeah, I know.  She got people reading, based solely on her recommendations, who would not have otherwise picked up a book.  Golf claps all around. 

But she forgot somewhere along the way that she doesn’t run the publishing industry. 

So, for the first time ever, I purposely tuned in this week.  I had to see the Smackdown 2.0 with Frey, both days of it.  I was dying to know what she meant by “bringing this full circle.”  I thought this might be code for Murder 1.

What I saw was, perhaps, the most riveting daytime television since the wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital. {The first one.  With the giant 1981 veil.}

During Smackdown 2.0, Oprah basically got Frey to say that her 2006 public lashing of him was “a gift” because it ultimately made him a better person.  I think he even thanked her.  I was too shellshocked to hear it clearly.  But I did hear her apologize, with a few caveats.  And they hugged it out.  This time I had no fever, but I considered double-checking.

But I guess we should acknowledge some of the key legacies of her empire.  Dr. Oz.  Nate Berkus.  Dr. Phil. 

Thanks, Oprah, for giving us someone legit to host the “Teen Mom” series recaps.

And, if you still aren’t with me — which I suspect most of you are not — let me offer you this final incentive to come over to the dark side.  Do you know which celebrity has made the most appearances on the show? 

Celine Dion.  27. Times. 

That alone should have you signing up to be my witness protection roommate.

On the upside, Oprah pretty much introduced Spanx to the world.  This truly may be her most valuable contribution as far as I’m concerned — one for which I am truly grateful.

I know.  The free cars, the trip to Australia, Oprah’s Favorite Things.  Yes — that’s all amazing. 

If you’re in the audience. 

But not for us mere at-home mortals.  I’m left with Spanx and an amplified hatred of Celine Dion.

Whether you love Oprah or not, May 25 is drawing near.  On this day, she will air that final show (with advertisers allegedly paying $1 million for 30 seconds).  And I just want to take a moment to be happy that one hour of Oprahness each day will be relinquished.  That’s all.

In the meantime, there are plenty of commercials, teasers, recaps and celebrity endorsements to show us how Oprah changed the world.  Lest we forget.

Don’t worry.  She’ll never be far away.  You can still read what she tells you or get your O Magazine fix — or tune into the Oprah Winfrey Network (don’t even get me started).  Baby steps.

And Tom Cruise will pop up on another couch somewhere, someday.  He has plenty more crazy left in him — you can be sure.

I have to go now.  My new ID just arrived and I have to take up residency in an undisclosed location.  Just don’t let Rachael Ray and her EVOO get any more air time while I’m gone.

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  1. michelle Spreckels says:

    The only comment I have is that the acronyn of her network is “OWN”, that says it all…..

    What can I bring, Roomie?

  2. Steve Lemson says:

    Amen, sister! Every time I see her I think she should be wearing a corset and spiked heels and wielding a very big whip. We will obey her. We will thank her for disciplining us and telling us what to read, what to do, what to think, who to vote for. And do not–ever–dream of escaping the dominance of O. (Okay, perhaps I’m getting my O’s confused.) Anyway, see ya, O. Like, I hope, never. And, please, take Gayle and Steadman and all of the other O-ettes with you.

  3. I knew this post was coming sometime since I saw your tweets about Oprah before. Still doesn’t make the hate less painful. Lol. Hmm its early and I have only had 1/5 of my coffee so I am not as eloquent as usual. Heh. Bottom line for me is that yeah I get all the points you made. Is she a bit over the top…probably. is that a terrible thing? ?? not in my mind. I think once you get that big (and are a woman…yeah I am throwing the feminist card…hahahha) you are an easy target.

    Sooo easy to throw stones at all that is slightly off kilter (james frey craziness) and yeah annoying (rachel ray and celine dion…bleh)

    But I choose to seethe glass 90%full (because the other 10% is crap…but that is better than everyother thing on tv these days which is 90something percent garbage)

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks for the comment. I totally hear you. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve got far bigger problems than Miss O. I’m just ready for a little less of her.
      And I wish I could be the full glass gal. It’s never been one of my strengths — in case you couldn’t tell 🙂

  4. Kristin says:

    I’ve never been a regular Oprah watcher, but I have been paying more attention to this last season. There have been some pretty spectacular shows, and there have been some gratuitous and silly shows.

    I actually do not notice the prevalence of OPRAH in my every day life, although a friend of mine gets her magazine, watches her show, and quotes Oprah often enough to make me wonder about her state of mind.

    I’ve been impressed with how she’s managed to create a mega-media-empire, and that she actually does try to do some good with her power. And I can’t fault someone for getting people to read _A Tale of Two Cities_. I mean, seriously, that’s power.

    I watched more of the Frey episode(s), and it seemed like it was about her need to apologize publicly and “make it right” after that show five years ago.

    Still, Celine Dion. Tee hee.

    • fordeville says:

      That friend of yours you mention — that’s the Oprahness I’m talking about.
      But, yeah, I can’t get anyone to read A Tale of Two Cities. I can barely get through Us Weekly anymore.

  5. Misfit Mommy says:

    I’m totally with you. I really admire O, but I don’t kneel at the altar. As a matter of fact, (and this may get me kicked out of the club altogether,) while I have seen bit and pieces of her show – mostly in clips – I’ve never actually watched it.

    I’ve never read anything but the front cover of her magazine.

    And the little “O” on her rec read books kinda turns me off from them.

    Maybe I’m the Anti-Oprah.

  6. Nora says:

    Thank you for putting it out there I am so in your camp – she needs to be locked up! Now it is all clear to me why we get along so well.

  7. marilyn root says:

    I’ve always thought I was alone in my repugnance…we seem to agree on yet another subject!

  8. anna says:

    i had a few deep things to write, but then i realized they were all oprah quotes.

    good luck in witness protection, i’ll be sure and send you and michelle regular nutella shipments!

  9. I used to watch Oprah many moons ago. I stopped the day of the James Frey show. Enough said or I’ll be dragging out my soap box. Let’s just say I no longer enjoy the flavor of Kool-Aid she’s serving up.

  10. Erica says:

    OMG I thought I was the only one!!!! I dislike the whole Oprah effect. She is just way more influential than she should be and I’ll just leave it at that. I’ve actually never watched a full episode!! My attitude has always been c’mon…if you’re gonna watch a talk show, go all out… something really trashy/juicy/fun, like maury povich, jerry springer, or in the older days, richard bey! ; ) oh and i’m not a big celine dion fan either..her voice is beautiful, but i just don’t buy it that she’s this angel that everyone seems to think she is!!

  11. You are spot on. I always thought it was completely hilarious that Oprah is on the cover of her magazine. Every single month. I mean, she can’t throw a bone to Celine one month.

    • fordeville says:

      I think you should start putting your photo on every one of your blog posts from now on, a la Oprah Magazine. I’ll put Celine on mine.

  12. I can’t tell you how much this post warms my cold little heart. I feel the exact same way. Je deteste l’Oprah! Just tweeted this. Fabulous. And Celine Dion. wretch.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks for the Twitterlove. You can have a bunk in the witness protection house, for sure.
      I’m now actually starting to think that Oprah singlehandedly held off the rapture so that she got those final episode ratings.

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