Earliest Impressions of the OWN network

Thanks to the East Coast snowstorm and our vacation from the office I was able to spend some time cleaning out my DVR. Yes, my life can be that exciting. It was a priority actually because I needed to make room for the new programming on the debut of Oprah’s network OWN. I’ve caught a handful of shows so far and here are my first impressions.

1. Master Class: The debut with Diane Sawyer was wonderful albeit I would watch Diane do laundry because I worship her so much. The storytelling nature (i.e. Diane telling her own story) is appealing versus the narrated versions like A&E Biography – this definitely feels more intimate. Not sure if this will be a must watch for me unless it is about someone I already find compelling.

2. Kidnapped by the Kids This show made me mad. The premise is that parents who spend too much time working get “kidnapped” by their children for a week to reconnect. The debut episode featured a man who traveled a lot for work and his wife and three kids who felt neglected. They got permission from his boss to take him out of the work mode for a week and hijacked him at the airport. It was touching to see young children so articulately express how his absense and the distractions of his BlackBerry and laptop made them feel. I teared up a little when the son said he thought his dad “had another family he liked better somewhere else”.

But a poorly timed toungue lashing by his wife killed the poignant moment. What followed was a montage of things the father got to do with his kids (camping, fishing, grocery shopping, swimming) and it ended with a moment in the family’s yard where he cried and apologized for spending so much time on work. Big hug. End credits with an update that dad has taken a job closer to home. WHAT?! That’s it? The solution here was crying and hugging? What a missed opportunity for the show to take a more practical turn to fix the problem that face so many of us. Let’s start small. Maybe no blackberry at dinner? Maybe a technology free day of the weekend? But the solution can’t be that dad feels guilty about earning a living. Can you tell this is a sore point for me as a working mom? My daughter recently interupted our bedtime story so that she could “take a call” on her pretend phone. Ouch, right? Parents who work don’t love their children any less and unless this show gets constructive it is just another guilt trip.

3. Behind the Scenes: A reality show about the production of Oprah’s last season of shows. Gimme more. Gimme more. This is like candy for me. I live for the behind the scenes look at how the show is put together. Since finding women to interview is part of my daily life I love watching the producers scramble to find the right guests. On the catty side I like seeing the knowing glances among the staff when they think that the big O is being unreasonable or overly demanding.

4. Overall I worry about the TBS and Oxygen effect. Will the lack of new programming make this channel a repository for tired chick flicks? I’ve seen some Tweets in the last few minutes that An Officer and A Gentleman is playing right now. What’s special about that? How is that Oprah-esque?

Being realistic I know that there isn’t enough new material for 24 hours of coverage but monotonous re-runs and old movies will not make for destinationl television. BUT maybe, just maybe the Oprah geniuses already know their audience well enough to know that we will all DVR the shows so it doesn’t matter what’s on in between. That must be it. See I knew they were smart.

I can’t wait to see Gayle’s new show next week and I’m a big fan of Dr. Berman too… but I’ve had enough of Phil, Oz and Orman to last me a lifetime. Tune in and let’s discuss… Stay tuned here because I will post soon about how I believe brands can use this platform to really market with women.

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May 23, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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