Kelly Clarkson has a daytime talk show now, which makes sense, because her personality exists somewhere between a parody of the nicest Southern neighbor you ever did have and an issue of Town & Country come to life. Before viewing, the very concept of The Kelly Clarkson Show confounded me because the Rachel Ray Show already exists, and I often confuse the two for one another in photographs. (My working theory: Kelly Clarkson and Rachel Ray are the same person somehow occupying the same dimension.) The only overwhelming difference between the pair seems to be their hometowns—Fort Worth, Texas and Lake George, New York, respectively—and that Clarkson’s show is full of “y’alls” and a set full of barn doors and sunflowers.
The Kelly Clarkson Show premiered on Monday, opening with its host belting a cover of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” It’s a bit of musical theater, Clarkson trying on different uniforms next to professional working women before waltzing into her new studio in a hot pink gown and a Gucci belt. Steve Carrell appears to announce her entry a la his character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The next 15 minutes are filled with interviews with the women from the previous scene: first responders who share generic stories about doing jobs traditionally thought of as masculine. Clarkson interrupts them with declarations like, “Little girls watching this can be whatever they want to be,” presumably forgetting that it’s 2 p.m. E.T., and they aren’t watching because they’re in school. She also promises her audience built entirely of #BossBitch women (Clarkson describes them as an “audience of working women”) that each of her shows will open with a cover, similar to “9 to 5.” In that moment, I realized I’d failed to account for all the singing that will happen on this show, which will likely continue to be half karaoke and the kind of feminism that exists mainly on graphic tees and HomeGoods decor. Exactly what America wants.
Clarkson’s first guest was scheduled to be comedian Kevin Hart, but he had to cancel after suffering major back injuries in a car accident last week. His Jumanji co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson filled in, reportedly abandoning his honeymoon early to help her out. The conversation was fine. She made him sing a bit of “9 to 5" as well, which reaffirmed my belief from 10 minutes ago that this show is just karaoke without the booze.
The next segment was something called “Rad Human,” where Clarkson celebrates people doing good in their community. In the debut, she meets a woman named Sharon who ran a food pantry, the Sunshine Pantry in Beaverton, Oregon, which was forced to close due to lack of funding. Instead of presenting her with a giant check, Clarkson brings out members of her community who drop a giant basket of money (supposedly totaling $20,000) onto the tiny woman. Then Clarkson hands her a human-sized check for $10,000. She cries. Sharon, noticeably, does not cry.
The premiere ended with Clarkson handing out bundt cakes and Skyping with some white moms whose viral social media post she enjoyed. In true parodic fashion, they’re drinking wine. And that’s it. It’s over, and I’m a little bit older.
Save for all the singing and the thinly veiled Christian messaging (church is mentioned at least twice), The Kelly Clarkson Show’s main draw is Clarkson’s unrivaled enthusiasm that could put Kelly Ripa to shame. If you’ve ever desired a daytime talk show where the host is a critically acclaimed pop superstar who screams for an hour, look no further.
But will I continue to watch The Kelly Clarkson Show? Definitely not. It’s September and a brand new schedule of fall television is upon us. Then again, this show is not for me; I am not a mom and do not inhale positive pro-women affirmations like vape smoke. I do think the program has potential, however—much more than, say, Busy Philipps’ late night catastrophe. People seem to enjoy talk shows reserved for the aggressively likable (Clarkson) in conversation with the extremely endearing (The Rock). I suppose it’s nice to tune in and turn off your brain in the mid-afternoon to laugh at cheap jokes and forget about the world for 60 minutes. Ellen is on right afterward.