If you choose to attend a live show of Megyn Kelly Today, exercise caution: You are at heightened risk of being blinded by a violently coral pink turtleneck.
To be clear, I counted at least 10 instances of coral pink on my recent trip to see Megyn Kelly Today, including one elderly couple in his-and-hers coral whose arms were raised in a permanent WHEEE position and who responded to every one of Kelly’s comedic “riffs” with outright delusional guffaws.
This was no accident. The peppy color, I came to learn over the course of the show, is perfectly emblematic of the recently rebranded Megyn Kelly and her new Chicken Soup for the Sisterhood persona. Daytime Megyn isn’t here for your pesky divisive politics or West Coast earth tones.
This is the new Megyn. She and the rapidly diminishing audience of Megyn Kelly Today want to LIVE-LAUGH-LOVE goddammit, no matter the cost to your endangered cornea or her slippery career.
The data coming out of Megyn Kelly Today is downright alarming — since she began hosting, the show has lost an estimated 32 percent of its audience. Kelly, whose net worth is too depressing for me to even Google, is costing NBC close to $69 million and putting other Today shows at risk of being replaced by something even crappier.
(For absolutely brilliant daily coverage, check out Bobby Finger’s column here.)
Walk into the audience’s waiting room outside the set and you’ll see little evidence of this dysphoria. When I first arrived at the show’s Rockefeller Center headquarters in New York City, I was overwhelmed by the number of women who were dead set on seeing Kelly — who once famously insisted that Santa Claus was white — LIVE. Her audience, I learned, came from all across the globe: Indiana. Witchita. Indiana.
The room was dominated by women, and let me tell you: They were ready for their ladies’ morning out. Their hair was impeccably blow-dried. They were thrilled to eat mini-muffins. One friend group wore matching buttons which read, “SHE WHO DARES WINS” — a meaningless phrase I am fully confident will one day become a slogan for a feminist smoothie shop.
Either way, their enthusiasm at 6:45 a.m. for anything that wasn’t death was infectious. So when I walked onto the set of Megyn Kelly Today in my coral turtleneck purchased specifically for the show without the aid of a coupon I tried to keep an open mind. These ladies were happy! Maybe I could be happy too.
Lol, no. The first thing I saw when I walked onto the set of Megyn Kelly Today was a giant screen featuring a Harvey Weinstein pastiche, followed by a candy corn montage. The transition between the two was obviously disturbing, but I was even more upset when one of her crew disclosed to me that Megyn’s favorite candy was Laffy Taffy.
Laffy Taffy? Has Megyn Kelly ever actually eaten a candy before?
Folks, that’s just wrong.
It was, alas, refreshing to see Megyn Kelly finally come on stage to some genuine applause and learn the agenda for the day, which would include a conversation about sexual assault followed by one about dirty toothbrushes, and a special visit from everyone’s favorite weatherman, Al Roker, there to promote his new children’s book.
I will say this only once: If you have anything negative to say about Al Roker, you can leave this story now. That man is a gift to Middle American television, and when he walked onto that sleepy little stage, he stole the goddamn show.
We laughed, we cried, we felt worried for Megyn Kelly.
The segment started off … not well. First, Kelly — a woman who makes about $23 million more a year than me — decided to reveal to the audience that she believes in ghosts. That was comforting. Then, after they randomly showed a clip featuring Roker collapsing to the ground while working during a deadly hurricane, Kelly told a humiliating story of her own: The day before, she had walked around New York with her dress partially unzipped in the back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Listen, I am all for braindead content. It is frankly my life’s work. But I am for garbage content that entertains, like when Al Roker proceeded to make fun of teeny candy bars being labelled “fun-sized” when everyone knows that big candy bars are the fun ones!
Admit it: That. Is. Almost. Funny.
Either way, the segment set the tone for the rest of the show, which involved Kelly desperately trying to sell herself as a REGULAR MOM GOOFBALL, not a woman who once interviewed Vladimir Putin. She made jokes about juggling. She admitted she loved chocolate! Kelly told Isla Fisher that the lead character of her children’s book was “naughtier than Mary Poppins!”
During a segment with Dr. Holly Phillips where the audience had to answer true or false questions about bacteria (good segment), Kelly disclosed that she didn’t know what “getting busy” meant. She followed that up with an even more damning reveal: She sometimes gets mad at women who sprinkle while they tinkle.
HELL YEAH SHE DOES!
Goofball Megyn wasn’t afraid to get serious, for brief “deep” moments in between commercials. For a segment called “Medical Mystery,” Kelly interviewed a child who was diagnosed by therapists with with an anxiety disorder, before doctors revealed that — da da DA — he was actually suffering from a brain tumor.
It’s cool, he’s good now.
There was another segment where she interviewed a Brazilian female immigrant, Barbara Minuzzi, now making it big as a female venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. Rags-to-venture-capitalism is about as radical as Megyn Kelly gets, and the audience applauded her beautiful neoliberal moment.
To be clear: The audience’s affection didn’t appear to be fabricated. Yes, a few members of her crew appeared to take a row of seats that were left empty because not enough folks seemingly attended. But most of that enthusiasm seemed genuine, even from us old losers relegated to the back row because I guess we weren’t coral enough for you, pRoDuCeRS.
About 58 minutes in, Kelly finally transitioned to Kathie Lee and mentioned that Lee would be singing a song that once made her “cry” (this was the scheduled Megyn Kelly “human moment” of the episode). Afterwards, she hung around for a few minutes to answer some questions from the audience.
One member asked a relatively bold question: Had she ever thought about dedicating a whole episode to sexual harassment?
Kelly hesitated. That kind of harassment, Kelly explained, had been going on since forever. Women are afraid to report and men often stay silent for their own reasons. The people who are supposed to be responsible for listening frequently just don’t. Kelly, who once worked as an employment lawyer, was herself harassed at FOX and couldn’t remedy the situation. What could one television episode really do?
She’d think about it.
It was a painfully honest answer and a depressingly cynical one, all at once. Think about this week. Who doesn’t want to escape from politics — though that takes glaring privilege — and exist entirely in the realm of Laffy Taffy joke? Imagine a world in which all depressing news can be satisfactorily digested in 90 second segments without it being wildly socially irresponsible. Who wouldn’t to live in this fantasy living room for a few hours a week? Who wouldn’t want to host this dumb show?
Megyn Kelly Today is a glorified Dove Commercial. Let me be clear: It is a bad show, it is tanking, and I will not be sad when it finally sinks for good.
Just forgive me while I watch.