02 December 2006

Guilty Pleasure of the Week: Ellen

(Yes, I stole this idea from Sidekick. If they want me to stop, they'll have to notice me first.)

I've never been one to watch daytime TV. Not in a few decades, at least. Sure, as a preschooler I can vaguely remember watching soap operas with my mother, and a few years later I used my younger sister as an excuse to watch Sesame Street for a while (until PBS started The Electric Company, which was geared more to kids my own age). A few more years down the line, I watched my share of Speed Racer and Gilligan's Island reruns on channel 56 in the afternoons after school, on a black-and-white TV in the bedroom I shared with my brother. But after age 12 or 13, I just wasn't interested anymore, plus I was starting to get more homework and needed that time to get it done. Even now, I wouldn't turn on the TV during the day, unless it was to check the weather. But then something happened.

Because of my work schedule, I'm usually home on Fridays. Our dog has a bed in the living room, and
when one or both of us is home it's where she spends most of her day, dozing in various funny positions. One Friday morning a few weeks ago, I turned on the TV to check the weather and noticed that, even though she never looks at the screen, the dog seemed to find the sound soothing, so I left it on and went to do some laundry.

When I came back into the room a while later, Ellen was on. I thought I had left the TV on New England Cable News, which is one channel above the channel that shows Ellen. I was about to change it back, but Ellen was showing pictures of herself, head shots from earlier phases of her career, and making fun of her clothes and hairstyles ("Check out that mullet!"). I didn't sit down, but I watched the rest of the segment. Since then I've seen a couple of other snippets, including Hugh Jackman performing a magic trick. I've never seen an entire show, but I've certainly enjoyed the bits and pieces I have seen.

I won't be making a point to watch it when I'm home, and I won't be setting my TiVo to record it, but I can appreciate it for what it is: entertaining daytime television. I always thought Ellen DeGeneres was a petty funny comedian, but I've also always been skeptical of the trend of celebrities attempting to do talk shows. Look at the track record; the list of "personalities" whose shows (daytime and nighttime) have failed is long: Chevy Chase, Dennis Miller, Jane Pauley, Magic Johnson. I didn't think Ellen's show would be any different, but it is, because she's such a natural entertainer, and I think that makes a huge difference.

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