Back in the 1990s, Rosie O’Donnell had her own incredibly successful talk show. She was basically considered the successor to Oprah. She won several Emmy awards (mostly after Oprah retired from Emmy eligibility), she did not tolerate profanity, she spoke out against television violence, and was essentially a straight woman with a borderline unhealthy obsession with Tom Cruise, a crush she rarely went a show without mentioning.
Rosie O’Donnell was literally known as the Queen of Nice then, a reputation so seared into the collective American conscience that, during a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, Bart and Homer sought to hasten their own suicides when Rosie O’Donnell began singing and dancing on a rocket ship already targeted at the sun. Imminent death wasn’t good enough. In the face of O’Donnell’s obnoxious niceness, immediate death was necessary.
Of course, it was all brand and imaging. Anyone who happened to see Rosie O’Donnell’s stand-up act in the 80s knew she wasn’t really nice. She was abrasive, she used a lot profanity, and she had a good sense of humor.
Twenty-five years later, and she’s kind of mean, and often humorless, but she is loud and outspoken — the opposite of her 90s politeness — and that’s exactly what The View needs these days, after Jenny McCarthy’s hiring didn’t bring the expected ratings hike. The show misses Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who was dumb, but at least she provoked a lot of arguments, and it was those arguments that made The View occasionally interesting television.
Rosie O’Donnell provoked arguments, too, mostly with Hasselbeck (and the Christian right), which is why she eventually left the show. She’s officially returning now. There’s no Hasselbeck to pick on, though. Or a Sherri Shepherd to represent the conservative viewpoint. Or a Jenny McCarthy to represent the perspective of a crazy person.
At the moment, it’s just Rosie and the woman who replaced her, Whoopi Goldberg, which is fine. I don’t mind Rosie O’Donnell, or at least this version of her. I have always just found it amusing little has been made of the evolution of her personality over the last 25 years.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin wants to be the new conservative member of The View panel, which could be an interesting but short-lived experiment that would probably result eventually in murder charges being brought against one of the two women.