January 3rd, 2011
10:53 AM ET
After much hype, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network launched on January 1 to mostly positive reviews, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"OWN is a place where cynicism takes a holiday and mockery hasn’t yet been invented," the New York Times's Alessandra Stanley said of the reality-program-packed channel. "There is no Chelsea Handler baring her big, sharp teeth on OWN; there is no Kathy Griffin or Joan Rivers standing up to take a crack at other people’s appearances or ages. There isn’t even an Oprah Winfrey standing in the studio audience, raising a quizzical eyebrow at a guest’s self-deceptions. Ms. Winfrey has created a ridicule-free zone where people like Tatum O’Neal and her father, Ryan O’Neal, and Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna can explore their personal growth in public."
IndieWire.com's Caryn James said that the network – which boasts lineup that includes the "Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love" cooking show, the "Master Class" celebrity profile series, and the investigative "Miracle Detectives" - "displays a whiff of spirituality, a huge amount of lifestyle fluff, and a surprising layer of substance."
What's more, says James, "Beneath the inspirational advice that often sounds like hot air, and the clean-up-your-room mom’s voice, Oprah has a bedrock belief in reason, intelligence, and education. That’s what makes her so valuable and OWN so promising to the non-banshees among us."
Jennifer Mabry of The Root, an online publication aimed at African-American audiences, disagrees and says she is disappointed in the network's programming.
"[Winfrey] seems content to follow the new television model of programming that exploded in the wake of the 2008 Hollywood writers' strike: Find anyone with a heartbeat and a willingness to have cameras follow them during their ordinary day-to-day life, and voilà - we've got ourselves a TV show!" says Mabry. "A much better bet: instead of routine reality TV, original scripted programming aimed primarily at upwardly mobile, upper-middle-class black folk."
Ultimately, says the Times's Stanley, "OWN isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for viewers who like Oscar Wilde or can’t read of the death of Little Nell without laughing. But it lives up to the Oprah Winfrey ethos — a 'meaningful, mindful' cable network that seeks its own truth and tries to be its own best self."
What do you think of OWN? Let us know in a comment below.
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