[22 March 2004]
I cancelled my cable a while back because it was gutting out my skull with passively pleasing numbness. I think it hit me after my second Law & Order marathon, when my eye sockets began to tremor somewhere after hour six. I still occasionally get the urge to sit around in my underwear, vegetating deep into the afternoon. Only now, unless I stoop to watching soap operas or game shows, I’m stuck with the bargain basement unreality of Good Day Live.
Good Day Live is what happens when the The National Enquirer is crossbred with morning television. Even that description doesn’t quite convey the paucity and dumb luck of its existence. Morning after morning, hosts Jillian Barberie, Steve Edwards, and Dorothy Lucey reveal themselves to be struck dumb by the cult of celebrity verbally doodling for a couple of hours. Though Edwards and Lucey bring their own laundry lists of failings, it’s Barberie whose incandescent freakishness deserves extra scrutiny.
Without irony, Barberie’s website bio notes, “She has changed the dress standards for television news.” Well, thank God someone introduced pole-dancer fashion into the newsroom, because there’s nothing so important as having the day’s events launched off the ample ledge of a push-up bra. Barberie is so bad at what she does, that at times, for brief moments, I almost find her social retardation charming. On an episode with Randy Jackson guest-hosting, she repeatedly launched into her versions of Sade and Madonna songs, as if she were auditioning. Barberie is Courtney Love without all that nuisance of talent and dulled down into a zaniness that would be entirely family friendly if it weren’t for the danger inherent in those car show titties. Bouncing around like she mainlines espresso during every break, Jillian will make fun of herself, tease her co-hosts, make inappropriate remarks, and then let out a wet, greasy belch before introducing a segment about someone dying at Disney World. She’s a bizarre hybrid of cheerleader and quarterback, a supermodel without paper training.
It’s amazing to me that anyone with any previous knowledge of this show, would agree to show up for it. When second-tier celebrities do make appearances on Good Day Live, one can only guess that it’s because that infomercial deal fell through or the producers offered them groceries. And yet, you pity these guest targets, as the hosts candidly use them as sources for gossip about more famous people. When Marlo Thomas appeared, trying in vain to promote her Lifetime movie, she was repeatedly questioned about her neighbor Martha Stewart. As it was it was tabloid Thursday, the hosts had just finished reading from the supermarket rags about the lesbian gang-bangs awaiting Stewart in prison.
The awkward fumbling of celebrity guest is but one of the ways this show looks like it has wobbly training wheels. It probably goes without saying that none of the Good Day Live hosts has a whit’s worth of interviewing skill. Barberie frequently interrupts the guest, suffering from the delusion that all conversational roads lead back to her ego. Most of the time, the conversation gets lost, as they all babble over one another in a gleeful muffle of cokehead-paced cacophony.
You might say that all these rickety rickshaw elements of the show are part of its charm, but you’d be deeply wrong. If a group of 12-year-olds put this show together, you’d have trouble thinking it was “good for their age.” Produced on a budget that must have been determined by someone’s change jar, Good Day Live displays moments of shoestring hilarity. Many episodes are spent literally leafing through magazines on the air, mining for celebrity news because they can’t afford all that fancy Entertainment Tonight glitter that puts the images up on an actual screen.
Even the show’s technicians look to be culled from various ponzi scheme correspondence schools, as never a day goes by when the gang doesn’t lose audio or visual feed, or some other difficulty occurs because the camera person is distracted trying to dig out a cashew that fell in his underwear. Having no aim, however, the show coasts over the bumps with Jillian and crew continuing tangential conversations over the silent parade of celebrity images, sometimes making relevant asides, and sometimes the A-list montage just runs under their inanity without a connection in sight.
It must be obvious by now that I’ve spent too much time staring in mute awe at the trashiness of Good Day Live. It’s a truism that celebrity culture turns us into chattering voids trying to live vicariously through the emptiest people on the planet. Something must change. Either I have to get my cable back or I have to pull an Elvis, and just put a bullet hole in the middle of the screen. If I do that, I think I’ll wait for tabloid Thursday.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/good-day-live/