Television

CBS Introduces 'The Talk,' A Gruesome Insult To Women, Friendship, And Sense

Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Holly Robinson Peete, Julie Chen

hide captionLeah Remini, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Holly Robinson Peete, and Julie Chen host CBS's very bad new show, The Talk.

Monty Brinton/CBS

It's been a while since a network put anything on the air as simultaneously ingratiating and off-putting as CBS's The Talk. As bad as you might expect a knock-off of The View to be (given how insufferable The View is), The Talk is worse. It's much, much worse.

From the press tour presentation, it was evident that this concept had a lot of problems, but nothing prepared me for the atrocious execution in yesterday's premiere episode of what Julie Chen — one of the gaggle of personalities on display — insisted was a show where the hosts would be "your girlfriends."

These "girlfriends" include, in addition to Chen, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Marisa Jaret Winokur, and Leah Remini. The first segment, in which they all sat around with coffee mugs and chit-chatted, was mostly taken up with painfully trite observations (kids keep you up late! husbands watch sports instead of doing considerate things for you!). And honestly, that was the best part.

(Incidentally, unless I missed it, while the other four women who participated in the coffee talk — Winokur sat out — all managed to discuss their husbands, Gilbert's partner, who is a woman, never came up.)

After that, an awful interview with Christie Brinkley turned into nothing but a parade of traded compliments (Brinkley insisting the set, made up of a couch and some plants, is "stunning," the hosts all telling her in return how impossibly gorgeous she is), followed by Brinkley complaining bitterly about meanness directed at her daughter (who should be off-limits, she insisted), followed by Brinkley promoting her daughter's CD and her daughter's radio tour (sponsored by Prell shampoo!), followed by Brinkley making a general appeal that people on the Internet (I'm sorry — the "blogosphere") should be nicer. At this, the audience cheered heartily. Everyone should be nice, yaaaay!

(The only highlight was the accidentally awkward — and therefore slightly funny — moment in which Sharon Osbourne referred to Brinkley's daughter as beautiful and, um, "exotic-looking." Just a hint: Never refer to anyone as "exotic-looking." Ever. For any reason.)

Frankly, if my girlfriends were this boring, I'd dump them all and live the life of a hermit forever.

BUT WAIT. Even that was not as bad as the next segment, in which Marissa Jaret Winokur supposedly needed advice on how to talk about sex with her two-year-old son. This first led her to a doctor, who told her to start by using the real names for body parts. Winokur burst into uncontrollable giggles every time a doctor used ordinary anatomical parlance in her presence, insisting that this was far too much to ask; she would never use any, you know, v-words in referring to any part of any woman. Eeeeeew! It was one of those terribly cutesy pieces that somehow manages to be both prudish and vulgar.

Back in the studio, the women all continued this bit about how gross it is to talk about sex with kids. When Peete expressed her opinion that it is indeed a good idea to use actual anatomical terms with kids, Remini literally shouted, "That's disgusting!"

Let me be clear: I am not saying these women are idiots. They are just acting like idiots. This show is a display of people — some of whom clearly have brains in their heads, including Julie Chen — behaving like the worst stereotypes of dull, privileged women who just gossip and complain. I don't believe that's all there is to these women. It seems to be the personality that's been adopted for this show, as if in order to be "girlfriends" with the audience, you have to be horrified, giggly, immature buffoons complaining about how your husband doesn't pay attention to you and your kids keep you up all night.

Frankly, The Talk, though ostensibly created by Gilbert (who, unfortunately, talks the least despite coming off as the most sensible), feels like an angry man's vision of what groups of women friends are like. They chatter, they giggle way too loudly, then one says something and the rest do some version of "Ohhhhhhhh, SNAP!"

It's truly and regrettably awful, to a degree The View can only dream of.

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