For instance, politicians always list education as one of the most important issues of our day, however, education funding is always the first program to get cut from budgets. And we say we want healthier food items on restaurant menus but the most popular items on any fast food restaurant remains the fat greasy stuff that will probably make us fat and ultimately kill us all. And while we say that we want to see more positive images on television, the reality is that upbeat television programming are rating killers as they never really seem to capture our attention the way that trash-TV does.
And that is the big fat elephant in the room when it comes to the OWN channel.
According to published reports, the Discovery Channel, which had partnered with Oprah Winfrey for her new cable network is going to spend $15 million more to promote the Oprah Winfrey Network in hopes of exposing the fledging network to new viewership. That’s right, after a cosmic (1-1-11) introduction and support from America’s favorite best friend Gayle King; the channel has been struggling to maintain a devoted audience. Even after firing a bunch of people including the former CEO Christina Norman and appointing herself as the head honchtress in charge, Oprah and her network continue to struggle not only for for viewers but also for content as at least one of the original shows have decided to take a walk. According to the published reports, OWN will use the extra cash to promote the relaunch of the network, which officially began on Monday night.
Among the new shows, which have premiered includes the “The Rosie Show,” a messy variety-esque talk show featuring Rosie O’Donnell. Also, Oprah has once again taken to the stage with Oprah Presents’ “Lifeclass,” which is basically the Queen of Talk sitting in a chair, rehashing “pivotal” personal moments in her life as well as offering viewers a look back at the “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” On Monday’s premier episode, Oprah discussed, again for the thousand time, her weight issues, including the infamous “fat wagon” and her relationship with long-time boyfriend Stedman Graham. Last night, she followed up with a discussion on letting go of anger and a look back at the Terry McMillan and her gay ex-husband and …
Seriously, I can appreciate a good life lesson every now and then, especially when it comes from one of the most successful black women of our generation. But I don’t really want to hear this self-help Isht 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m just not that depressed. If I wanted to watch old clips from the Oprah Winfrey Show, well than I’ll just buy the box set of the Oprah Winfrey Show. And If I wanted to be lectured to about the direction my life was/is taking, well I would go see my grandma more often. Judging by the weak ratings, many folks feel the same as I do.
For those, who believe that I am being too hard on Oprah, just think for a second about the popularity of reality and trash-talk shows. After having watched hundreds of hours of these programs, for research purposes of course, I have found that the denizen of trailer park and ghettos, crying and screaming about who stole who’s boyfriend and who said what behind whose backs typically speaks more of the real, day-to-day appetite of the average Joes and Janes than the cult of the professional experts, who usually appear on the OWN network. And you can debate with me if you must but we all know that people didn’t tune in to The Oprah Show just because she had the “secret” to a more balanced life or tips to better manage our money. No, most of us tuned in to see Terry McMillan go at it with her gay husband, or to see the world exclusive interview with the woman, whose face got bitten off by the monkey and to watch Tom Cruise lose his damn mind and stomp around on the couch for 5 minutes.
Why? Well, because the key to any and every good story is conflict and the problem with the OWN channel is that it has no divergence to help illicit the maximum emotional impact, which is needed to connect with the audience. In other words, if there is nothing to solve at the end of a 30 to 60 minutes show and everything is all rose petals, what really is keeping people from using their remotes and watching a family of racist midgets strippers argue over who left the toilet seat up? Worse yet, if I were truly interested in being educated about money-matter issues or spirituality, why would I be watching television? Why wouldn’t I be reading a book?
Listen there is no other non-family/close friend person I love more than the mighty O. And I truly want her channel to succeed just because her name is attached to it. But if she is expecting this channel to rise above the ratings basement of CSPAN 3 and the Golf Network, than she is going to have to hype it up more. I’m not saying go all-Bad Girls Club or Jerry Springer or even B.E.T on us. But at the very least, try to entertain us. Because after a long day slaving away at a job that we sometimes care about, the last thing any of us want to do is come home and be lectured by the likes of Ryan & Tatum O’Neal, Shania Twain, The Judds, and Sarah Ferguson. I mean, what “I Love The 80s” did this lineup fall out of?
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.