Then and Now: The View

“I’ve always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds and views: a working mother; a professional in her 30s; a young woman just starting out; and then somebody who’s done almost everything and will say almost anything “. And in a perfect world, I’d get to join the group whenever I wanted….”

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Since August 11, 1997, The View has been a staple of daytime television. A show hosted by a panel of women, with topics ranging from social, political, and entertainment. During its nearly 20 years, the show has evolved into a program that differs greatly from its source material.

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Lisa Ling and other cast members from ‘The View’

Viewtiful Beginnings

The first few  seasons had a strict formula that went with every episode. You had your panelists that consisted of Professionals (Star Jones, Barbara Walters, Meredith Vierra etc.), Personalities (i.e. Joy Beher), and the Ingenue (Lisa Ling, Debbie Matenopolous). They would sit in a cozy area with their coffee, and talk about things in a comfortable format and  manner.

This can be attributed to something I like to call “Early Installment Weirdness”, where there is something in a show that differs greatly from the rest of its run. This is in fact attributed to a lacking budget and the fact that its original set (which lasted for the first four season) was leftover from a cancelled soap opera. It didn’t take long for a bigger budget to come and for the show to find its real stride, which was greatly attributed to the fun chemistry of the group.

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The Changing of the Tides

As the show’s set became more professional looking, the same could not be said for the qualifications of the presenters. We started off with women of a mostly journalistic and communications based background. However, when the likes of Lisa Ling and Meredith Vierra left for greener pastures, they found their seats replaced with comedians, actresses, and reality stars. And these were the clean breaks. There were several instances where the dismissal of a panelist led to a verbal sparring match, both off and on camera.

The show’s content, however, grew more serious and sensationalized. Political and Taboo topics were, and still are, in the forefront of the show. Once again though, they were wasted on the hosts. These topics brought out the very worst of the hosts, where an outright screaming match would take up valuable time. Is it any wonder that shows like SNL and Mad TV would portray the hosts as a bunch of clucking hens in satirical skits?

Here and Now

Currently, The View seems to have finally grown a beard. The shouting matches have faded out of the unofficial format, and there is a stronger bond amongst the hosts. Said hosts now range from lawyers, journalists, advocates, and exactly one personality. Furthermore, the viewpoints of said hosts have been made neutral due to the equal amount of conservative and liberal viewpoints. And that brings us to what the View either falters or flourishes: the Hosts.

One of the most notable aspects of the view as of late was its rotating door of hosts. After the departure of producer Barbara Walters, there have been 11 different panelists in 3 seasons. American audiences love consistency, and seeing familiar faces on your favorite program leads to a stronger bond. By not allowing the audience to properly bond with the hosts before giving them the boot.Certain people, especially if they already have an existing fan base, will bring in more people into your viewership. This may explain the period where ratings were at an all time low.

The View was its most stable when it had a stable panel. Now that there seems to be no changes i the immediate future, the production of this show should be a lot smoother.

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