Does ‘The Talk’s Decent Debut Spell Trouble For Soaps?

The Hosts of 'The Talk' From Center: Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen and Marissa Jaret Winokur (Photo: CBS)

The Hosts of 'The Talk' From Center: Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen and Marissa Jaret Winokur (Photo: CBS)

‘The Talk’ No Threat to The Soap

The Talk‘, the clone of ‘The View‘ that replaced ‘As The World Turns‘ on CBS, debuted Monday to mostly poor reviews.  Now, the ratings are in.  While it usually takes an entire week for Nielsen to compile daytime ratings, CBS paid for what is known as “Fast Nationals” to find out how the inaugural episode did.  The results were “modest” according to The Hollywood Reporter, while CBS proudly proclaimed the show “Lifts Women Demos,” and ABC pointed out that “One Life To Live Betters Premiere of The Talk.”

As always with television ratings, there are a thousand ways to spin the same information.  The objective numbers are this: the show averaged 2.2 million viewers, and earned a 2.1 Household rating in the metered markets, an increase of 29% over ATWT’s October 2009 average, though, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, down 8% from the final weeks of ATWT.  CBS daytime tends to earn higher ratings in the smaller markets, so the complete picture will not be available until next week when the final ratings come out.  In the all important younger demos, where ATWT lagged behind, the show was up +22% among W25-54 (1.1 million viewers versus 0.9), +29% in W18-49(0.9 versus 0.7) and +67% in W18-34 (0.5 versus 0.3).

‘The Talk’ competed head to head with ‘One Life To Live’ in most markets. ABC was happy to point out that the soap beat it by 13% in total viewers (2.5 million versus 2.2) and the 19% among Women 18-49 (690,000 versus 581,000.)   In my opinion, this is a decent, not spectacular debut. It did better than its predecessor, the lowest rated soap on the air, though not as well as a soap that is often rumored to be slated for cancellation. As ABC crowed, ‘The View,’ which airs much earlier in the day, was far more popular, with 3.8 million viewers.

Watch The Premiere Of ‘The Talk’ On XfinityTV

Given all of the promotion that ‘The Talk’ received, including some primetime promos, which CBS virtually never gives any of its soaps, it would have been shocking if the show did worse than ATWT.  People were bound to be curious about it.  ‘The Talk,’ like all other talk shows, will live and die by its guests.  Even ‘Oprah’s‘ ratings are largely dependent on who her producers book on the show.   Given that the biggest names this week are Christie Brinkley and Jennifer Lopez, the stars are clearly waiting to see if the show will be a hit before signing up.  As someone without kids, ‘The Talk’s’ stated focus on parenting is dull.  If I wanted to hear about funny things kids do, I’d read my friends Facebook status updates.

The other factor is whether or not the moms of ‘The Talk’ will turn out  to be good hosts.  In the premiere, Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete, Leah Remini and Marissa Jaret Winokur seemed nervous and stiff and, perhaps worst of all, too friendly and nice to be compelling.  But it took ‘The View’ years, and multiple host changes, to find its footing and build up a following. Who knows? Julie Chen may turn out to believe all of the conspiracy theories about the moon landing being faked, and ‘The Talk’ will join ‘The View’ as a must-see trip to crazytown.

‘The Talk’ Begins: Here’s Our View, Whats Yours?

I am most encouraged that ‘The Talk’s’ debut did not appear to hurt OLTL.  The daytime audience was not jonesing for a talk show in that time period.  OLTL’s across the board victory showed that, despite all of their problems,  soaps are still the biggest draw in daytime.

Battle of the Soap Pyschos

‘One Life To Live’s’ Hannah (Meghann Fahy) decided to kidnap Starr (Kristen Alderson) and Hope in the strange belief that kidnapping Cole’s (Brandon Buddy) daughter is the perfect way to win his heart.

General Hospital’s‘ Lisa (Brianna Brown) managed to convince a group of psychiatrists that her obsession with Patrick (Jason Thompson) was just a temporary psychotic break, returned to work at GH, then promptly resumed her attempts to seduce him.

On ‘The Young & The Restless,’ Meggie (Sean Young) has now teamed up with Deacon (Sean Kanan) to break up Victor (Eric Braeden) and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott.)

The question is, which of these women is the craziest?

Meggie is certainly the most evil.  She has already gotten Nikki to fall off the wagon and caused Murphy’s stroke and subsequent Locked In Syndrome.  Lisa does deserve an honorable mention for switching out Robin’s (Kimberly McCullough)  HIV medication.  However, I think Hannah wins the contest because she is going through all this effort for Cole, a teen father with anger management issues.

Patrick is a gorgeous brain surgeon.  Of all the men in daytime, he is the character that women would most want to date in real life.   Victor is an aging billionaire with a transplanted heart.  It’s not true love, but there are sound reasons for a gold digger to target him.

Cole has no qualities that would make him boyfriend material.  In his short time on earth he has:  abused steroids, had unsafe sex resulting in an unplanned pregnancy, got into a car accident while high resulting in Matthew’s paralysis, and done stints in both jail and rehab.  It’s like Hannah has been watching ‘Teen Mom‘ on MTV and decided that one of the shiftless on-again, off-again, irresponsible Baby Daddies was exactly what was missing in her life.  Yes, she had a lousy childhood.  Yes, she was dumped by Ford (David Gregor) and victimized by Eli (Matt Walton).   That is no reason to decide that Cole is her knight in shining armor.  Has she not met any of the other nice, more accomplished, and more attractive guys in Llanview?  Hannah needs to learn from her fellow soap psychos and aim a little higher.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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