In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, VH1
While this year’s most obvious and manliest trend in US TV has been military shows, with Shooter and Six already with us and a slew of others in the pipeline, another, womanlier trend has been quietly bubbling away in the background: TV satirising TV. It probably all started with Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, but since then we’ve had The Bachelor satirised with UnREAL, news programmes mocked with Great News and Notorious, period dramas skewered with Another Period, and real-life crime documentaries teased a bit with Trial & Error.
Now we have VH1’s effort, Daytime Divas, a mild poking in the ribs of The View. For those who don’t know, The View is America’s equivalent of Loose Women, with its cohort of calculatedly diverse women expressing calculatedly diverse opinions on the topics of the day, ostensibly in a show of sisterhood, but largely to further their own diverse personal agendas. Former The View presenter/cackler Star Jones went on to write a satire of the show and its internal politics called Satan’s Sisters, which is the basis of Daytime Divas.
Vanessa Williams stars as the creator and co-host of ‘The Lunch Hour‘, a View-a-like show in which five women sit around and pretend to be friends while still hating on each other and dealing with their own personal problems:
- Tichina Arnold (Everybody Hates Chris) is a black female stereotype of a stand-up who plays up to the stereotype to ensure she’s the vital (irreplaceable) comedy presence on the show. But is her performance too ‘urban’ for the network? And is her rocky sex life her Achilles heel?
- Chloe Bridges (The Carrie Diaries) is a ‘sexually fluid’ former child star still on probation after rehab and having to deal with a mother who only loves her for her money
- Camille Guaty (Scorpion) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who’s perhaps a bit too boring for her own good, but never seems to get to do the journalism she really wants to be doing
- Fiona Gubelmann (Wilfred) is a conservative Christian Republican, who’s all about the family values, but whose marriage is rocky and possibly even abusive
All seems to be going well until one day, the famously cosmetic surgery-free Williams undergoes minor surgery (actually cosmetic surgery) when she has a reaction to the anaesthesia and falls into coma. Before you know it, all her co-hosts are vying to take her spot in the vital ‘left chair’, with Williams’ son – the show’s producer – McKinley Freeman (Hit The Floor) having to adjudicate between them.
Despite ostensibly being a skewering piece of TV, it doesn’t have even one-tenth the edge of UnREAL, the one real tool in its armoury being mild cattiness. The co-hosts are slightly unpleasant to one another and will threaten to confess each other’s secrets to the media, but that’s about it for the inter-personal drama and satire, the rest of the time being devoted to tepid issues-based personal drama and poor representations of bisexual women. The characters are all studiously far enough away from being real View hosts to avoid lawsuits, too, but that also means there’s no real accuracy to the comedy, either. Its idea of how a TV show is produced is like a five year old’s and the worst language used is vagina. And that’s to describe a vagina.
So, these are not ‘Satan’s Sisters’ by a long chalk and by the end of the first episode, it’s clear that Williams is the surrogate mum of the piece who keeps her family together – they all need her and it’s really just one big dysfunctional family, who’ll end up loving one another really. Ah. How lovely.
That means whether you watch Daytime Divas is basically down to whether you like women saying mildly catty things to one another to raise a laugh. And if that’s your bag, you might as well just watch The View.