Nowadays, it seems there is no shortage of female-oriented talk shows. It is a television phenomenon that has had a longer life span than most of today’s societal obsessions (ie: Facebook and reality TV, among other examples).
There are debates as to who was the very first woman to host her own talk show, many encyclopedias and thorough research point to different people. Yet one person, who may have ignited the spark for other female talk show hosts, is Sally Jesse Raphael, who was the first female host to have a syndicated daytime talk show. Since that show began in 1983, there have been a slew of numerous talk shows which have been hosted by women, broadening the female role in broadcast journalism and television in general.
Here, we take a look at five shows that each played a special role in not only television history, but how they created milestones and helped open the door for other women in the industry as well.
Originally called The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, Sally premiered on October 17, 1983 and ran in syndication until May 24, 2002. It can be said that Sally served as the pioneer for tabloid talk shows, a TV genre that became very popular in the 1980s and 1990s, and led to similar shows such as The Maury Povich Show and The Jerry Springer Show. Sally featured many controversial topics such as teenage pregnancy and substance abuse, but ultimately was canceled after ratings began to decline in 2002.
The Oprah Winfrey Show, which came a few years after Sally made its debut,
ran from 1986 to 2011. It is credited as the highest-rated talk show in
American television history. Yet, it marked a departure from shows like Sally when it began to feature other more serious topics such as self-improvement, domestic violence, and disease and illnesses. The show was also noted for Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with high profile guests such as celebrities, politicians, and other public figures. Winfrey stated numerous times that she would retire, but finally came to a decision in 2011, when she decided to end her show after 25 seasons. Because of her success and fortune due to her show, in 2003, Forbes magazine declared Winfrey to be the very first African-American woman to become a billionaire, opening the doors for opportunity for women of other ethnicities and cultures.
In August 1997, The View premiered. It is a talk show with a panel of all women as hosts which dissects topics such as politics, health, racism, and crime. The original set of hosts featured Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulous, and Barbara Walters, who is still a host today. Over the years, the show has survived low ratings, a slew of different co-hosts who have come and gone, and many controversies including when guest Bill O’Reilly claimed that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on 9/11 on an episode that aired on October 14, 2010, which caused some of the hosts to walk off set in anger. Yet the biggest accomplishment the show has so far achieved in the whole scheme of female talk shows is surviving and thriving, 15 years and counting, as a show that has not just one or two, but currently five female co-hosts.
THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW
Led by comedian/actress Ellen DeGeneres, The Ellen DeGeneres Show premiered in 2003 and has had nine successful seasons so far. The show marked a new path in female talk show history, because while it is mostly comedic-oriented, the program is not labeled as a tabloid talk show, such as Sally, and it does not feature expert guests offering advice for relationships or other personal issues, like The Oprah Winfrey Show or even The Tyra Banks Show. There are frequent celebrity interviews as well as interviews with non-famous people as well.
Scheduled to premiere on September 10, news anchor Katie Couric is starting a new nationally syndicated talk show, titled Katie. Couric has expressed plans to make the show’s topics female-oriented. But, unlike The Ellen DeGeneres Show, it will not be featuring regular celebrity guests, according to Couric. She has stated in interviews that celebrities are invited to come on the show, but only "if George Clooney wanted to come on and talk about his work in Darfur," or “Lady Gaga addresses her efforts to fight bullying”. The show will air on ABC and will most likely be broadcast in the daytime, in the afternoon.