For The Good Tea Book Club's inaugural reading selection, I initially planned on digging into Stassi Schroeder's new book "Next Level Basic." However, after my copy didn't arrive on time I decided to switch things up and choose the most salacious, juicy and interesting book to be released this year which is "Ladies Who Punch."
If you read the blogs or watch any daytime TV you would have already heard about the tea that has been coming out of this book from Elisabeth Hassleback quitting during an ad break to Jenny McCarthy talking about hiding from Babs and even Rosie confessing to having a lesbian crush on Liz (can we call her that?). Obviously, the book's publishers need to leak a few excerpts to catch our attention but this is much more a piece of journalism than it is dishing on the secrets of The View. The authour, Ramin Setoodeh is not only hot but an excellent journalist that mixes the perfect amounts of controversy and storytelling into this read by going over everything that's happened in The View's two decades on TV with a fine tooth comb.
The View was in a sense, the first ever Housewives franchise. Five women from different walks of life on TV together with constant drama, shakeups, firings, betrayals and their own juicy personal storylines to keep us updated through the TV. Just like the Bravo reality show, there are bigger personalities than others at the table which is why so many women haven't lasted long in recent years because they have to walk the line between sharing their opinions, managing to get their thought out and not pissing off the more powerful women of the show.
The thing you need to know about this book is that three different women have controlled the show. Barbara Walters, Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg. The View is a lion's den, you either eat or be eaten and the role of the moderator is like being Bethenny Frankel or NeNe Leakes on a Housewives franchise. Everyone has to respect you if you're the moderator because you can cut them off and take it to commercial if you need to. Sure, it seems like such a small part of the show but it's a fucking power move. In the beginning, the show belonged to Barbara Walters. She was the most famous female journalist at the time and cast Meredith Viera, Joy Behar, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos to play her four gal pals from different generations on TV with Meredith becoming the moderator.
In Barbara's reign of The View, everyone somewhat got along but it wasn't about the cattiness or behind the scenes betrayals, it was about five women making history by talking about politics, pop culture and whatever the fuck else they wanted to on network television. These days you look around and every channel has some kind of panel show with nobodies giving their opinions but in 1997 when The View debuted, it was almost unheard of. Setoodeh touches on the legacy this show created and the only controversy they had in the first few seasons was firing Dummy Debbie after she had a few slutty moments in the press and didn't know anything about America's current events. Once they got rid of her they brought in Lisa Ling who was nice but more boring than beige wallpaper and then finally replaced her with Republican Elisabeth Hasselbeck to get the political debates heated.
In "Barbara's View" along with their struggle to find a Republican co-host, the author also touches on Star Jones' wedding of the century to a very obviously "bisexual" man. She plagued the show with advertisements so she could get freebies for her big day, talked about her wedding like a Mormon talking about God and had all of Manhattan's elite in attendance to her New York Big Day. If this wedding was anything apart from over the top and pretentious, it was ahead of its time. She promoted her wedding products on TV before the Kardashians were even a thought and made all her guests check their phones at the door to make sure People Magazine would get the first pictures of the dress. This is a BUSINESS woman, honey.
It was as if Princess Diana was getting married in Times Square, which just proves, The View really was THAT show. Everyone watched back then because it acted as a tastemaker for pop culture and although Star Jones' wedding (and secret gastric sleeve surgery) may have torpedoed her View career, it's a major milestone in the show's past which just proved how big it had gotten.
With the departure of Meredith for The Today Show and firing of Star, Babs decided to bring in Rosie O'Donnell who was the more butch and political Ellen DeGeneres of 2007. Rosie was great TV but she was always a cunt behind the scenes. Ramin Setoodeh does a great job of keeping a fair and unbiased take at reporting anything and everything to happen in the show's history through a series of interviews with all the cohosts that mattered (except Whoopi and Elisabeth) but something that came across throughout most people's recounts was that Rosie was an asshole. In my heart, I don't think Rosie is a bad person. She's an eccentric lady who never stops and always wants to be better which is fine, but she joined a show as a cohost and was making plans as if she were an executive producer.
Rosie was at The View for literally less than a year and created more controversy than it had ever seen before. Whether it was fighting with Trump and then fighting with Babs about her fighting with Trump or have her BRAWL with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on live TV, Rosie O'Donnell knew how to bring the fire and she brought it good. Rosie was amazing for the show both in ratings and in quality, however, after she got a little too big for her britches and was (sort of) fired after she may or may not have insulted the entire ABC News division. Rosie was a HUGE part of the show's history and wanted to change it for the better but like Ramona Singer, she may have had excellent intentions but her delivery sucked more than a whore on spring break.
Once Rosie was done they replaced her with Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepard and those were the GOLDEN years of The View. They show had already established itself as a piece of pop culture history and the ratings soared when Babs, Joy, Elisabeth, Whoopi and Sherri were sitting side by side for seven years together. There was little to no drama behind the scenes, no leaks to the press and the show was still entertaining with a perfect cross-section of politics and pop culture. Nothing could've been better but this was where The View managed to fall off the deep end.
The producers wanted everything to be more pop culture related so they fired Joy and Elisabeth, bringing in Jenny McCarthy as the "pop culture" expert. The only problem is, as soon as Jenny showed up they decided they wanted politics. This is when the wheels fell off, they basically kicked Babs off the air because she was well into her eighties, Whoopi wouldn't let her moderate even in her last days on television and Jenny gave SO much juice about working with the two divas, even detailing how Babs yelled at her about tampon. Seriously, get the fucking book.
Since then, they've shaken up the cast more times than a bartender making a martini with a bunch of child stars, actresses and news reporters that nobody actually cares about. They even brought back Rosie O'Donnell for a five month stint where she feuded with Whoopi and eventually got Joy Behar to return after they realised they fucked up by firing her. These days The View has landed back on its feet under the reign of Trump as president because they have more than enough to chew on, especially with Meg McCain at the table as the first real Republican since Elisabeth. And whether you can tolerate her or not, there wouldn't be a show without her.
22 years on television and this show is still making headlines like nobody's business, even being named "The Most Important Political TV Show in America" by New York Times Magazine. If that doesn't say it, I don't know what will. Although everyone, including myself, is focusing on all the juicy stories sprinkled throughout the book, if you are a fan of The View then this is the book for you. It's a chronical biography on the show with interviews from most of the cohosts and producers, so you're not going to find anything else out there with this must content about The View, and the juicy stories just make you keep turning the pages. It's a book about power, greed, fame, sisterhood and daytime television so bitchy catfights are just par for the course.