According to its own mythology, "The Talk," which is CBS' new daytime answer to "The View," came about when actress Sara Gilbert joined a mothers' support group and quickly realized that moms everywhere could use a little humor, a little insight, a little help.
For a professional performer (best known as Darlene on "Roseanne"), that means a talk show in which mothers can talk about what's really going on with them and their families.
An admirable, if not terribly original, goal. But the problem with creating a mom-driven talk show that "keeps it real" is that real moms don't get talk shows. Celebrity moms get talk shows. In this case that would be Gilbert, "The Early Show's" Julie Chen, Leah Remini ("King of Queens"), Holly Robinson Peete ("21 Jump Street"), Marissa Jaret Winokur (Broadway's original and Tony-winning Tracy Turnblad in "Hairspray") and Sharon Osbourne.
Technically, of course, they are all real mothers, but they experience motherhood in a rather rarified, which is to say rich and famous sort of way.
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The show airs at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on CBS.
If the disconnect between Gilbert's original thought and the actual show wasn't apparent during promos for the first guest — uber-"real mom" Christie Brinkley — it became alarmingly, nay, hilariously obvious early on in the first show. Videos of the hosts' children wishing them luck were aired with the predictable tension between adoration and embarrassment until it was Chen's turn. Chen's son is only a year old, so her video was made by her husband. Who is, of course, CBS president Leslie Moonves, who said he hopes the show does well because he really loves his wife, but if it doesn't he'll cancel it. Hahaha.
This is exactly the kind of trenchant real-life issue that keeps women all over the country on the phone and Facebook, for hours.
Actually, it would be fascinating to hear Chen discuss what it's like to work in such a high-profile way for her husband, but the conversation quickly turned to other matters. Like how beautiful Brinkley is (very very) and if she has any advice for women in the midst of bad divorces.
With an absence of irony that was gorgeous to watch, Brinkley praised daughter Alexa Ray Joel for launching her music career and modeling deal with no help from either parent, only to hold up a copy of Alexa's new CD, which she distributed to the audience.
Just keepin' it real.
Gilbert, who, for the record, seems like precisely the sort of mother you'd like to see sitting across from you in a parenting group, needs to speak up more — the show was her idea, after all, and of all the hosts, she seems the best capable of "real." But Remini is a fun and frank presence, as is Winokur.
The premiere of any talk show demands a lot of flash as well as personality and format introduction. But eventually, one hopes, the producers will ratchet down the celebrity quotient and the women will all have a chance to talk long enough to say something.