Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farewell, Oprah – I’m Sorta Sad to See You Go

OK!  OK!  Enough already.  We’re all sad that Oprah is leaving.  What will the city of Chicago do once she’s gone?  I heard Chicago was only loaning her out from time to time because they claim to OWN her (ha).  Frankly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Oprah over the last 10 years or so.  I vacillate between finding her very inspiring to being embarrassed I’m watching the show.  I appreciated the early years that brought insightful shows with compelling content we could relate to; however, at some point (about the time her wealth was approaching Vulcan warp uberness) some guests, usually celebrities, started to make me feel a little uncomfortable in the way they thanked her for just about everything in their lives.  Oprah’s last two weeks of shows had guests and clips of some pretty famous people saying goodbye.  They didn’t just say farewell, they licked her feet.  And the way Oprah sat in her chair, taking it all in, turning loaves into fishes, made me a little uncomfortable.  She is obviously the leader of a special group of people who, based on their wealth, live in another cosmos and share inside information on life we mere mortals will never know.

The recent show featuring relationship expert, Iyanla Vanzant, was a good example of the type of snarfing I’m talking about.  Apparently Oprah resurrected her from her self-imposed obscurity after Iyanla had the nerve to think about going in a different direction after Oprah got her started.  After mutual namastes, Iyanla started the episode with a tearful apology saying how sorry she was and how much she loved Oprah.  After much flagellation on Iyanla’s part (did you see those cat ‘o nine tail anywhere?), there appeared to be some sort of reconciliation between the women.  There was so much angst going on it could only be presented in a two-part episode.  I thought I saw Oprah sprinkle pixie dust on Iyanla as she told her, “You were already forgiven” – aka - “You had me at hello."  Iyanla Vanzant Apologizes to Oprah Video.   

It seems as though Oprah needed to haul out a few of the people who pissed her off or embarrassed her over the years.  Poor James Frey from A Million Little Pieces fame. Her continued badgering of the guy and his refusal to capitulate to the total ruination of his life turned this into an uncomfortable two-parter.  He had to remind Oprah that the death of his infant son was actually the worst moment of his life, not the hissy fit she threw because she chose HIS BOOK OF LIES to rocket to famedom. 

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett were guests on her farewell extravaganza.  How fitting.  Two more self-important celebrities that pontificated about how Oprah gave them lung and brain.  Smith, who recently was denied the privilege of resting in an 1100 square foot double decker trailer on the streets of New York, while filming the upcoming Men In Black III (for real, a third?), felt maybe no one would notice a vehicle spewing fumes and exhaust that was bigger than many apartments in NYC.  

However, it’s her knack for balancing schmaltz against devotion that is one of the reasons her show is such good TV.  By interviewing traumatized people in one episode, then ripping off her Snuggie and announcing it’s the Favorite Things show in the next, she offered us never ending variety.  But, come on now, admit it.  The Favorite Things show disturbs you a little – right?  If you are post-menopausal, you might remember the daytime show,  Queen For a Day!  which, like OFT’s, was just another hour long commercial presenting products to sobbing women.  I guess after she’s off the air I’ll just have to be satisfied remembering the hysterical images of all of the people in the audience (mostly women) losing their minds and experiencing their first orgasm….in Chicago of all places.  SNL Favorite Things Parody

Oprah--you are yin and yang, and I can’t believe I’m not a little more tolerant since I am totally a Libra and believe in balance.  Just as I reach ultimate annoyance level, you come up with a show like the Rwandan sisters who were reunited with the family they thought was lost forever, and I'm back on the Oprah train again .  The thing is--once in a while, whether I like to admit it or not, your shows actually make me stop what I’m doing, sit down and listen, unlike other shows I "non-watch" which is watching TV in my multi-tasking, distracted way.  Over the years you have challenged the way I think and for that, I will miss you.

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