Television

Oprah Takes Her Audience Down Under As Her Final Season Kicks Off

38th AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Mike Nichols - Show

Seen here at an event in June, Oprah Winfrey kicked off her final season today with another big audience giveaway. Christopher Polk/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Over the 24-season run of her daytime talk show, Oprah Winfrey has come up with plenty of attention-grabbing stunts: her announcements of her Favorite Things, her pumped-up celebrity interviews — just her screaming of people's names seems designed to create artificial excitement.

Now, as her 25th and final season gets underway, Oprah has found her latest gimmick: she announced on today's season premiere (as reported by, among others, the liveblog at the Chicago Sun Times, where they see the show before the rest of us) that she's taking the entire audience (that's 300 people) on an eight-day trip to Australia in December. She'll do a couple of shows while on "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure."

Why is she doing this? Well, why does Oprah do anything? Because she can. After a period in which Oprah's show was very much a part of the "NUNS WITH TATTOOS WHO ARE SECRET BINGE EATERS!" segment of freak-show television, she took a turn a few years back into the wish-fulfillment business, giving away lots of free stuff and trying to inspire everyone with sometimes good-natured, sometimes astonishingly hokey business about your best self and your true purpose and so on.

It makes sense that she'd kick off the season with a giant giveaway, under the circumstances, but fans (and non-fans who watch any television or follow any media, and who have very little chance of staying out of the way) will need to pace themselves for what's bound to be a very, very tearful and overwrought season. And Oprah's people need to prepare themselves for the fact that this season, more than any other, everyone who leaves the studio empty-handed — without a fancy bauble, a car, a trip, or a house — is going to have that moment in which she thinks to herself, "Hmph. Apparently, I came on the wrong day."

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