Everyone’s always so nice on The Talk — and it’s made the show an Emmy-winning hit. But now that de facto leader Julie “Chenbot” Chen Moonves has evicted herself from the show, there’s a spot open at the table — and after Rosie O’Donnell’s all-too-brief appearance as guest host on Friday’s show, I humbly suggest that CBS back up the money truck and lure her back to daytime TV.
Looking Chico’s fabulous with her unfussy gray hair and brown kaftan, O’Donnell interjected some much-needed unpredictability into The Talk‘s overly-structured chitter-chatter. The show’s #EverybodyTalks segments — in which hosts Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, and Eve put a genial spin on the latest celebrity gossip — are usually bland to the point of boring, but O’Donnell did not seem afraid to express an actual opinion, even if it’s not nice. “Let’s call child protective services on her!” she barked during a discussion about Bravo-lebrity Kim Zolciak possibly photoshopping an image of her 4-year-old daughter.
Though O’Donnell was in good spirits and did not let loose with any of her, um, impassioned political opinions as she did so memorably on The View, the former Queen of Nice nevertheless brought a relaxed, quirky charm to the episode. Her delightfully vintage pop culture references (“I was sweating like William Hurt in Broadcast News!”) and enduring love of Barbra Streisand — she both recalled attending the premiere of The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1996 and plugged Barbra’s new album Walls — added a welcome dash of weird to The Talk‘s milquetoast tone. The show has always maintained a mission to incorporate the viewpoint of women from all walks of life, so isn’t it time that the “hippie Aunt from Santa Fe” demographic got some TV representation? Plus, late-era O’Donnell is the closest we’re going to get to having a real-life Linda Richman (of SNL‘s “Coffee Talk” fame) as part of our daily TV diet.
There are, of course, many names floating around as a possible replacement for Julie Chen (including Carrie Ann Inaba, who also appeared as guest co-host on Friday’s episode), but CBS needs to ask itself one key question: Do they want an okay daytime show, or do they want a pretty good daytime show (that’s always one step away from complete and utter implosion)? I know which one I’d watch.
The Talk airs weekdays on CBS.