The View from Alice’s Chair
January 16, 2013
“I only watch those women so I can pick them apart,” Alice admitted to me on the phone yesterday morning. She was referring to the TV program, The View. She watches it every day at ten o’clock, and she often calls me while it’s on to report the various things that appall her.
Usually what upsets her has to do with clothes and hair.
Before her sister Pearl died, they watched the program over the phone together, Pearl in Wisconsin, Alice in Iowa and then Portland. Pearl was a Republican and Alice a Democrat. They disagreed on all the political arguments among the five women hosts. It made for a lively long-distance conversation.
But Pearl is gone now, and Alice can no longer hear The View hosts’ conversations. She can’t follow the program’s closed captions because there’s too much cross talk, but she can see clothes and hair.
As a viewer of The View for so many years, she no longer bothers to call the women hosts by their full names. They are Joy (Behar), Barbara (Walters), Whoopi (Goldberg), Sherri (Shepherd), and The Other One, aka The Blonde Girl or That Girl Who’s On There With Them (Elizabeth Hasselbeck).
According to Alice, The Other One “has never been in anything.” She means she hasn’t been in movies or on television until now. She never paid any attention to Survivor, the show where Elizabeth competed with people who ate worms, etc., and managed to keep going in the Australian outback for many weeks.
This was back in the 1990s. After Survivor, Elizabeth was handpicked by Barbara Walters to show up and sit at a table or on a couch every single day and speak to her countrymen, which just goes to show what being skinny and blonde and determined and willing to appear almost naked in front of millions of people in a competition can do for you. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again.
Now that she can’t hear what she’s saying, Alice ignores Elizabeth’s politics (conservative) and considers her sensible because she cooks for her kids. This was a segment on The View, so it must be true.
She disapproves of Elizabeth’s clothes, however. “She’s always wearing those short, sleeveless dresses. When she sits down you can see just about everything. Even little Sherri’s dresses are too short sometimes. Oh my, what’s Whoopi wearing today? Goodness!”
Whenever Alice starts watching The View while she’s talking to me on the phone I wish I could watch it with her, but since the digital switchover I lost all networks but two, and ABC isn’t one of them. From seeing it with her in the past, I do know that the program features a stream of singer and actor guests who are promoting CDs and movies and even what they consider “children’s books,” which they’ve written in their spare time.
Today when an actor or actress or singer has a child, apparently nothing will do for the baby but a book written by the adoring famous parent. “It’s just a story I always tell him while he’s falling asleep,” they say, smiling into the television camera. “An agent approached me, and well…here it is.”
If one has been a writer all one’s life, one lies awake nights wondering how a literary agent got wind of these bedtime stories presumably told in private bedrooms in massive houses protected by security fences and probably without many books lying about, but one is better off taking a Xanax and trying to sleep.
When Arnold’ Schwarzenegger’s latest book came out (not a children’s book, as far as I know), Alice saw him on all the programs she watches regularly. After a long week of his self promotion, she summed up the experience this way: “I’m so tired of seeing that crazy facelift.”
“Do you ever think of not watching?” I asked.
“No,” she said.
Yesterday, when Alice called while The View was on she spoke out not only against Whoopi’s clothes, but also Barbara’s. “I used to say that Barbara knows how to dress, but today she proved me wrong. A long top and full skirt. It looks like a maternity outfit.”
But then, almost as if the powerful Barbara Walters had overheard her, the TV set stopped working. It may have been a power surge. Like the rest of us, Alice gets upset when this happens. “What in the WORLD?”
I’ve been in her presence a few times when the TV suddenly shuts down. She grabs the remote controls like two pistols and aims them at the ceiling or somewhere, anywhere, in the vicinity of the screen and clicks wildly until things start functioning again.
Many times I’ve shown her the spot on the television set that the remote is trying to make contact with, but this makes no difference. Clickety click click click click click.
In this case, though, she was back in business fairly quickly, grumpy about Whoopi’s current hairstyle, which makes it difficult to see her face.
“I just want that hair off her forehead,” she said. “Is that too much to ask?”
She decided she was done with The View for the day and turned it off. “Enough of that.” We spoke of other things. Nothing important. We’re at a stage when we’re glad for those times when there’s nothing important to discuss.
Is there a program you listen to or watch just so you can get stirred up like Alice?