The Rosie O'Donnell Effect

News & Politics
This post, written by Amanda Guinzburg, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Every time Rosie O'Donnell would walk on stage during The View's opening, she made a gesture of feigned shock that there were all these people wildly applauding for her. She would turn her hands upwards and furrow her brow in exaggerated confusion and then as she'd continue out towards the table (trailed by the other consistently waving co-hosts), her open Irish face would break into a bright wide smile. She was, it seemed from the very start, saying to everyone who watched: I am going to take you with me now, into the land of bright lights, quick touch-ups and major league pretend.

But doing that while still following the rest of the rules of network television proved ultimately an impossible balancing act for a woman who has remarkably balanced a great deal. Or rather a task whose compromises, not just of time away from her beloved family (a family, it can safely be said, she made a natural part of morning conversation despite the fact that it is unconventional by traditional -- and it would seem now, in large part thanks to her -- almost archaic standards) but of her fiercely held moral standards of what is right and what is real.

Television has taken almost every ounce of reality away from the very genre so named. We are all supposed to be in on the joke now -- that everything we see is edited and manipulated to serve some larger narrative. To wit: the debauched kids on MTV's Real World: The Moon! (Not really, but they're seriously running out of places to house these drunken whores), the wrecked and weeping women riding away mascara-streaked in limousines after being dumped by the latest Bachelor, or the ever available desperados of afternoon talk shows. Jerry Springer is still perhaps the most extreme, and even he now has his own meta-show, The Springer Hustle where we see that guests are so heavily prepped by producers they're actually told at what point to physically attack their cheating spouse (when the lie detector or DNA test comes back positive) or racist neighbor (when he or she inevitably and often gleefully uses the "n" word)

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