Advice for Oprah

by Abby on May 25, 2011

Oprah's OWN networkI read an article in Entertainment Weekly recently about the disappointing launch of Oprah’s OWN network. Even the media mogul herself admits: “It’s not where I want it to be.” Well, now that her talk show’s ending, she’s got time to work on it. I’ve got some feedback for you, Oprah. Read on.

But first, you all should know this is not a post in which I shamelessly kiss up and plead for a job. Although if Gayle King wants to publish my writing in O magazine, MY SCHEDULE’S WIDE OPEN, GAYLE! CALL ME!

I am actually not a rabid “Oprah” fan. I never used to watch the show because I wasn’t all that interested in polygamists, murderers, Jessica Seinfeld, or extreme weight loss. I think for me, the makeover shows were a gateway to the celebrity interviews. Then before I knew it, I was taping “Oprah” daily. Although I still only watch maybe 1 out of every 4 shows, I’d say.

And – don’t kill me, Oprah – I don’t think she’s the best interviewer. (It’s not her fault she’s less than accessible. She’s OPRAH.) Who IS good? Jon Stewart. And Oprah-protégé Rachael Ray. Seriously. Watch her sometime. She has such a natural rapport with every guest from Kate Gosselin to 50 Cent to Jill Biden.

Anyway, on to OWN. I’ve only caught a handful of shows on the new network, but by far my favorite is “Master Class.” These are well-produced interviews with successful people – like Diane Sawyer, Sidney Poitier, and Maya Angelou – that trace that person’s life and lessons they’ve learned along the way. (Watch clips here.)

The one on Jay-Z captivated me. I know! ME, a white, middle-class mom culling life lessons from a rapper?! But when he described sitting at his grandmother’s kitchen table filling notebooks with his writing, I thought, He’s my people. He talked about trying to make records that were commercially successful but personally meaningless (Hello, book publishing industry!), and how even at his most successful he felt like he didn’t quite fit in because he didn’t fit the image of what people thought a rapper should be.

I was also surprised by the “Master Class” on Oprah herself. Thought you knew her whole story by now? One-on-one, talking to the camera, she comes across as down-to-earth, even funny, and as surprised by her own success as anyone. I really walked away from these shows feeling differently about my own life. Like there are possibilities I haven’t even considered. Like there is more than one path to success and fulfillment.

I’m sure I like this show because it comes closest to what I like best about O magazine. It’s well-done. It’s goes beneath the surface. It’s satisfying. It’s inspiring. It values reading, writing, and learning. O devoted a whole issue to POETRY! I don’t want to read another article about how Heidi Klum keeps her marriage hot or how Gisele gets that body. I want more.

So in another post – or several; I feel a series coming on! – I will share what I’D like to see on OWN. And it’s not the Judds or “Finding Sarah: the Duchess of York’s emotional struggle to rebuild her life.” Think real moms, writers, bloggers, and what makes a great place to live in reality, not just on paper. I’ve got LOTS of ideas, Oprah, just you wait.

What about you guys? What would you like to see on TV that’s missing these days? And, BTW, whatever happened to music videos?

QUOTE O’ THE DAY: “Life is about growth and change. When you are no longer doing that—that is your whisper; that is your whisper that you are supposed to do something else.” —Oprah

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Frume Sarah May 26, 2011 at 1:50 am

I am so with you. On her show, I find Oprah rather condescending. Her non-verbal communication, at least, seems to suggest it. I haven’t checked out “Master Class,” but will certainly do as after reading this because it seems right up my alley.

Great quote choice today 😉

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Loukia May 26, 2011 at 3:57 am

I have only watched a handful of the regular Oprah shows, but today, I cried when I saw her final show. I want her to be my life coach!

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Angie Mizzell May 27, 2011 at 10:22 am

Loukia, I took notes! 🙂 Abby, I really like Jay Z’s Master Class. I have not seen the others, and I’m dying to watch Oprah’s since you told me about it. I need to set my DVR because that’s my kind of TV. If they take your advice, OWN will have an awesome lineup, I’m sure!

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Abby May 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

It’s funny, for years I never heard anyone say a bad thing about her & now all the anti-Oprah folks are coming out. I read one comment that said she’s a “narcissist who thinks she’s a philosopher.” Ouch!

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Amanda May 30, 2011 at 5:19 am

Agreed, OWN is such a disappointment because it’s nothing different from what I’m already watching or have watched on other channels…. I actually tuned out shortly after it launched and honestly haven’t been back to check for newness since. I don’t have any fabulous ideas to add but I’m hoping, for Oprah’s sake, that she turns this ship around pronto and wins us back!

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