Rosie O’Donnell went on twitter yesterday to say “The Lindsay Lohan show is a tragedy – on every level. I hope one day she gets sober for real and watches these episodes – n sees what we all do.” Lindsay’s docuseries is television and its best and especially enjoyable for someone with my dark sensibilities, but Rosie O’Donnel is an extremely sensitive depression prone person who likely struggles to handle a show so raw. Back in 1999 she was so traumatized by the Columbine school shooting that she transformed her wildly popular syndicated talk show into a polarizing anti-gun platform, alienating many conservative Americans and getting into a brutal televised confrontation with pro-gun actor Tom Sellek.
It’s interesting that Rosie did not attack Oprah in her comments about Lindsay’s docuseries. As many will recall, Rosie O’Donnell also had a show on Oprah’s OWN network from 2011-2012. The show was actually very good, especially once Rosie abandoned the comedy and engaged in deep conversations but it did poorly in the ratings. This was mostly because back in early 2012, very few people were watching OWN (ratings are much higher today) and Rosie had a mediocre time slot (weeknights at 7 pm), but it was also because Rosie’s obsession with gay topics was uncomfortable, even for gay viewers, and especially for the older middle class women who so loved her syndicated show and were tuning in to the OWN show for the same wholesome family entertainment. It seemed Rosie was trying to overcompensate for not being visibly gay in her syndicated talk show by being hyper-gay in the OWN talk show. I also don’t think there’s a huge audience for the type of in-depth intelligent conversation that Rosie was so good at which is why you don’t see much of it on commercial television.
Sadly Rosie’s talk show on OWN had to be cancelled because the ratings were nowhere near high enough to justify the eight figure salary Rosie was receiving, especially for a new network that was struggling at the time. In fact had Rosie’s talk show not been cancelled, the network would have likely collapsed. After the cancellation, many were expecting Rosie to badmouth Oprah as she had badmouthed Barbara Walters (Rosie had a brief gig co-hosting the View back in 2006-2007) in Rosie’s dark memoir Celebrity Detox and other shows. But so far that hasn’t happened, probably because Rosie’s show on OWN was cancelled for business reasons (low ratings) while Rosie quit The View for personal reasons, despite delivering the show record ratings and really putting it on the map as a cultural force.