Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network launched January 1st, 2011, and the reviews are already rolling in. They look pretty good!The most committed reviewer had to be Matt Zoller Seitz from Salon, who devoted the entire first day of the year to watching and reviewing OWN, despite being really, really hungover.
Things didn’t start out so well for Seitz, but admittedly he was prejudiced. “Damn you, Oprah. I despise you and your commercialized inspirational pap.”
According to Seitz, the interviews with the hosts of OWN, “Oprah’s self-help version of the Rat Pack,” were so overbearingly enthusiastic and staged that “The result evokes videos made by bomber pilots shot down over enemy territory and forced to read scripted statements about how well they’re being treated.”
But OWN eventually wins him over, and the saga ends happily with Seitz “making lists of clutter to remove from my own home and resolving to enroll immediately in a cooking class…”
The New York Times Alessandra Stanley, summed OWN up, “as a place where cynicism takes a holiday and mockery hasn’t yet been invented.”
Ms. Winfrey has created a ridicule-free zone where people like Tatum O’Neal and her father, Ryan O’Neal, and Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna can explore their personal growth in public…Lots of cable networks offer ordinary people the chance to become famous. On OWN, celebrities are allowed to pose as ordinary people.
But this isn’t entirely a criticism. OWN may not be for the snarky or the cynical, but it “lives up to the Oprah Winfrey ethos — a ‘meaningful, mindful’ cable network that seeks its own truth and tries to be its own best self.”
Indiewire, unsurprisingly, did not start out on board either: “If you’re not a die-hard Oprah fan, if you wouldn’t jump, squeal and wail like a banshee if someone gave you a Kindle or even a car, you can skip most of the programs.”
But no one can resist the life-improving power of Oprah for long, and their review finally concludes:
Oprah has a bedrock belief in reason, intelligence and education. That’s what makes her so valuable and OWN so promising to the non-banshees among us.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.