Review: Day One of Good Afternoon America

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman

I watched the premiere of Good Afternoon America today with cold fear in my heart:  Will this show be good enough to replace (and thus cancel) General Hospital if it really catches on this summer after this nine-week experiment?

I got the heebee jeebees right away.   Hosts Josh Elliot and Lara Spencer (who also are on this show’s progenitor, Good Morning America) introduced themselves and immediately showed us photos of their kids and families.  It wasn’t two minutes until the words “Fifty Shades of Grey” came out of their mouths and the first guests were a sexologist and (okay), and a comedian. The next segment was on coupon shopping.

Sure, the daytime audience is overwhelmingly female.  But why does this afternoon show have to insist on treating all of us as girls?  I have always really adored The View because it’s a show for women that appeals to one’s brains first and foremost.   You don’t have to have all XX chromosomes to enjoy it.

GAA has one very original idea, though, and it’s a smart one:  They use the medium of television to be immediate.  Throughout the show, laraat the beginning of each relevant segment, the hosts ask guests and viewing audience questions.  Then at the end of the segment, they report the results of the polling, which has been done simultaneously by Internet.  But those questions!   “Is it okay to pressure the one you love to propose?”  “Should young marrieds wait a while to have kids?”  Holy Virginia Graham!  (For you young ones, she was the legendary hostess of a 60s talk show called Girl Talk.)

The show was also immediate on reporting gossip up to the second.  This morning, while I was at the computer working, Tom and Katie announced a divorce settlement (but what about Suri?) and Kourtney Kardashian gave birth to a girl.  Well, isn’t Harvey Levin and the website, my previous source of gossip, going to miss me?

On the whole, I was underwhelmed by the brainlessness of it all.  But hold on. This show, most likely because of its GMA roots, has very, very strong daytime booking power.   Who did they roll out in their final segment to sing “New York, New York” but Liza Minelli!   Someone at this show may be thinking, after all.


  1. I didn’t watch the premiere on principle (though I’m sure I’ll run across it at some point during its initial run while channel surfing), but I have long been a fan of Lara Spencer. Whereas I’ve never been able to stomach Ms. Couric and her plastic preening, I think Spencer has a very natural, very relatably spunky charisma that bursts right through the camera. Can’t judge whether this will be the vehicle that breaks her into the big time, but when she does find that right fit, I think she’s gonna be a major star in her field.

    And good lord, Virginia Graham! Shortly before she passed away in 1998 (literally only three or four weeks prior), I happened to catch (and, thankfully, tape!) her on Tom Snyder’s old chat show, and that crazy old gal was a RIOT as she discussed her career in television. It was such a hilarious off-the-wall interview that I digitized the audio file and put it on my iPod, and still listen to it once a month or so. Fun memories.

    PS: I think I speak for your entire fanbase when I tell you that we’d ALL love to hear just what Marlena thinks of the “50 Shades” phenomenon!

    Marlena says: Oh Brandon, I’ve always told you that you ask the best questions! First, I love Lara Spencer too. When she hosted Extra, she was by far the best infotainment personality in the business. Can you dub me a tape of your Virginia Graham interview ? What a hoot she was, way ahead of her time in daytime TV. Lastly, I just read that the author of the 50 Shades of Grey books is coining $2 million A WEEK! As a writer, I say right on! And as the books an empowering experience for women I say, well, right on, too! I have a feeling we’ll be hearing about these books (and their many imitators) for some time to come.

  2. I recorded the show, and thank goodness I did, since I ended up FFing through most of it. Because it was a first show, I’ll give it a week to settle in and then decide if I will take it off my DVR.

    Liza Minnelli? Really?? She is so pathetic these days, poor thing. Her speaking voice is so shaky and her singing voice is embarrassing. They ended up cutting her off in the end because she couldn’t talk fast enough. I loved her back in the day, but now I find her very sad. 

  3. Tiso Novotny says:

    It makes me sad when soap fans watch daytime talk shows in timeslots that used to be occupied by soaps. The original set for The View was one that had been used on the cancelled soap The City. How’s that for symbolism?

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