Daytime Divas: Vanessa Williams is back, and she still is That Bitch™

Promotional still of Daytime Divas, showing the five co-hosts smiling at the camera.

Daytime Divas is VH1’s newest comedy, a parody of the backstage life of the popular American talk-shows, produced by Star Jones, a former co-host of The View. The first season of the show finished airing in July, and it looks like a strong contender for renewal, both due to pretty strong ratings and to Vanessa Williams’ star power.

The show follows Maxine Robinson, the host of “The Lunch Hour”, and her four co-hosts as they try to balance their professional and personal lives, amidst small scandals and big, life-changing secrets that start coming to light as the season evolves. Daytime Divas struggles a little to balance the comedic and the dramatic, but all of the leading actresses -as well as the supporting cast- are talented and versatile actors, and quickly make you care for the characters and their small and big dramas. You have to like over-the-top drama to enjoy the show but, despite the stories straining the limits of credibility, the characters are grounded and it’s impossible not to care for them.

Maxine has all of Vanessa’s charm and she’s a perfect leading character. She can deliver a funny one-liner or a dramatic scene just as well, and Maxine isn’t just the boss (or just a diva). She’s got her relationship with her son, a sort of mentor role to the younger of the co-hosts and a loving relationship with her boyfriend, as well as a determination that sometimes makes her clash with the executive producers or her co-hosts, but also shows in the form of fierce care for the people she loves.

Maxine waving at the audience as she enters the studio.

One of Maxine’s most important relationships is with her co-host Mo Evans, who -we learn early on- has been in “The Lunch Hour” for years but often disagrees with Maxine due to both their strong personalities and their clashing ambitions. Mo is one of the best characters in the show; opinionated and ambitious but a good friend to the rest of the women even though she hardly admits it. She’s also the only dark-skinned woman in the regular cast, and sadly her character doesn’t show up in three of the ten episodes of the season.

Mo, spinning on the left chair at the “The Lunch Hour” table.

In the main cast, the most important relationship that Maxine and Mo have is with Kibby, the youngest and newest co-host. She’s an ex-child star who, a lá Lindsey Lohan, had a history of addiction in her early twenties. Kibby’s not very concerned with having big-time face, and is content with having a spot on the show, having stable relationships and keeping her sobriety. Through the show we learn that she’s sapphic (by the VH1 page, pansexual), that she has a troubled relationship with her mother and with the circumstances of her career that explain the sources of her addiction, and that she’s not always the best at coping.

Kibby, entering Nina’s room with a bright smile but instantly changing to an annoyed face as she closes the door behind her.

The show also deals with Maxine’s own troubled first marriage, and its writing shines with how it centers their reaction to these events rather than relying on graphic trauma for shock value. The solidarity that Maxine, and later Mo, show Kibby is a healing watch, and it fits right in, in a story where all the most important and complex relationships are between women. Even though the co-hosts are not all friends and sometimes don’t even like each other, Maxine subtly takes Kibby under her wing, Kibby always shows care for her co-hosts’ feelings and wellbeing, and Mo cares as much for Kibby as she (reluctantly) does for the hyper-religious Heather.

Mo and Nina, greeting each other with smiles and air-kisses near each cheek.

Heather is often the joke of the show, an obnoxious Catholic archetype that tries to hide her judgemental streak under southern passive-aggressiveness. There isn’t a single episode where Heather doesn’t say some extremely white and ignorant thing and gets dragged by the rest of the co-hosts. Still, the story of her six-year-old trans daughter and Heather’s fierce defensiveness of Ella’s right to be herself are well written and make her a more sympathetic character. Daytime Divas, which had a handful of great guest-stars, features Janet Mock (playing herself) as a guest co-host in the show, in an episode that both reminds the audience that marginalized people are not obliged to educate the privileged and empathizes with Heather’s clumsy but honest intention of unlearning her prejudices.

Heather at the changing room, making a mocking face and laughing.

Last but not least is Nina Sandoval, maybe not as charming or funny as the rest of the stars but still a complex and well constructed character. Nina, like Heather, is a bit more cartoonish than the rest, self-righteous and a big performative but, rather than conservative, is a socially-aware journalist who considers herself an activist. This co-exists with the fact that she cheated on her husband and has a less than spotless professional record, in direct contradiction with the reputation she tries to maintain.

Nina, rolling her eyes in annoyance.

The dynamics between the women are great. And so are the guest stars, which don’t end with Janet, but include Star Jones (also as herself) as well as Debby Ryan, Tasha Smith, La La Anthony and a handful of real-life talk-show hosts. With great performances among the main and guest stars, as well as some background running jokes to lighten the drama, Daytime Divas manages to balance soap-opera drama and some smart humor .

Although the pacing stumbles a little and it’s going to need to do better by Mo if it gets a second season, the show hits pretty close to the diverse sit-com it aims to be. It’s entertaining and endearing, and the ideal watch if you’re looking for a feel-good dramedy and/or for complex women of color in leading roles.

Maxine and Mo at the “The Lunch Hour” table, Maxine looking off-put while Mo smirks.

Note: Do consider before watching that, though no graphic violence is shown, domestic abuse and transphobia are discussed and there are people making transphobic and victim-blaming remarks.

Author: Drea Merodeadora

Editor: Juwairiyah Khan

miling at the camera.

Daytime Divas is VH1’s newest comedy, a parody of the backstage life of the popular American talk-shows, produced by Star Jones, a former co-host of The View. The first season of the show finished airing in July, and it looks like a strong contender for renewal, both due to pretty strong ratings and to Vanessa Williams’ star power.

The show follows Maxine Robinson, the host of “The Lunch Hour”, and her four co-hosts as they try to balance their professional and personal lives, amidst small scandals and big, life-changing secrets that start coming to light as the season evolves. Daytime Divas struggles a little to balance the comedic and the dramatic, but all of the leading actresses -as well as the supporting cast- are talented and versatile actors, and quickly make you care for the characters and their small and big dramas. You have to like over-the-top drama to enjoy the show but, despite the stories straining the limits of credibility, the characters are grounded and it’s impossible not to care for them.

Maxine has all of Vanessa’s charm and she’s a perfect leading character. She can deliver a funny one-liner or a dramatic scene just as well, and Maxine isn’t just the boss (or just a diva). She’s got her relationship with her son, a sort of mentor role to the younger of the co-hosts and a loving relationship with her boyfriend, as well as a determination that sometimes makes her clash with the executive producers or her co-hosts, but also shows in the form of fierce care for the people she loves.

Maxine waving at the audience as she enters the studio.

One of Maxine’s most important relationships is with her co-host Mo Evans, who -we learn early on- has been in “The Lunch Hour” for years but often disagrees with Maxine due to both their strong personalities and their clashing ambitions. Mo is one of the best characters in the show; opinionated and ambitious but a good friend to the rest of the women even though she hardly admits it. She’s also the only dark-skinned woman in the regular cast, and sadly her character doesn’t show up in three of the ten episodes of the season.

Mo, spinning on the left chair at the “The Lunch Hour” table.

In the main cast, the most important relationship that Maxine and Mo have is with Kibby, the youngest and newest co-host. She’s an ex-child star who, a lá Lindsey Lohan, had a history of addiction in her early twenties. Kibby’s not very concerned with having big-time face, and is content with having a spot on the show, having stable relationships and keeping her sobriety. Through the show we learn that she’s sapphic (by the VH1 page, pansexual), that she has a troubled relationship with her mother and with the circumstances of her career that explain the sources of her addiction, and that she’s not always the best at coping.

Kibby, entering Nina’s room with a bright smile but instantly changing to an annoyed face as she closes the door behind her.

The show also deals with Maxine’s own troubled first marriage, and its writing shines with how it centers their reaction to these events rather than relying on graphic trauma for shock value. The solidarity that Maxine, and later Mo, show Kibby is a healing watch, and it fits right in, in a story where all the most important and complex relationships are between women. Even though the co-hosts are not all friends and sometimes don’t even like each other, Maxine subtly takes Kibby under her wing, Kibby always shows care for her co-hosts’ feelings and wellbeing, and Mo cares as much for Kibby as she (reluctantly) does for the hyper-religious Heather.

Mo and Nina, greeting each other with smiles and air-kisses near each cheek.

Heather is often the joke of the show, an obnoxious Catholic archetype that tries to hide her judgemental streak under southern passive-aggressiveness. There isn’t a single episode where Heather doesn’t say some extremely white and ignorant thing and gets dragged by the rest of the co-hosts. Still, the story of her six-year-old trans daughter and Heather’s fierce defensiveness of Ella’s right to be herself are well written and make her a more sympathetic character. Daytime Divas, which had a handful of great guest-stars, features Janet Mock (playing herself) as a guest co-host in the show, in an episode that both reminds the audience that marginalized people are not obliged to educate the privileged and empathizes with Heather’s clumsy but honest intention of unlearning her prejudices.

Heather at the changing room, making a mocking face and laughing.

Last but not least is Nina Sandoval, maybe not as charming or funny as the rest of the stars but still a complex and well constructed character. Nina, like Heather, is a bit more cartoonish than the rest, self-righteous and a big performative but, rather than conservative, is a socially-aware journalist who considers herself an activist. This co-exists with the fact that she cheated on her husband and has a less than spotless professional record, in direct contradiction with the reputation she tries to maintain.

Nina, rolling her eyes in annoyance.

The dynamics between the women are great. And so are the guest stars, which don’t end with Janet, but include Star Jones (also as herself) as well as Debby Ryan, Tasha Smith, La La Anthony and a handful of real-life talk-show hosts. With great performances among the main and guest stars, as well as some background running jokes to lighten the drama, Daytime Divas manages to balance soap-opera drama and some smart humor .

Although the pacing stumbles a little and it’s going to need to do better by Mo if it gets a second season, the show hits pretty close to the diverse sit-com it aims to be. It’s entertaining and endearing, and the ideal watch if you’re looking for a feel-good dramedy and/or for complex women of color in leading roles.

Maxine and Mo at the “The Lunch Hour” table, Maxine looking off-put while Mo smirks.

Note: Do consider before watching that, though no graphic violence is shown, domestic abuse and transphobia are discussed and there are people making transphobic and victim-blaming remarks.

Author: Drea Merodeadora

Editor: Juwairiyah Khan

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