Daytime talk series The View has been known for many things over the years. Its far-reaching opinions. Its ability to make headlines. And all of the backstage drama that has plagued its hosts over the years, from Rosie O’Donnell and Star Jones to Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar.
But while we’ve appreciated the show’s ability to rejuvenate itself with each new host announcement and controversial topic its tackled on-air, we’ve always imagined there must be more drama behind-the-scenes than these ladies let on. Well, now we finally get to see it.
Or an imagined version of it, at any rate.
Daytime Divas (Mondays, 10 p.m. on Bravo) is the new soapy prime time drama based on the popular daytime format, and it’s got some pretty great source material to draw from. Namely, the book Satan’s Sisters that Jones wrote following her time on The View.
The TV personality penned the book as a fictional piece of work revolving around five daytime talk show co-hosts, but it’s not hard to see where she got her inspiration for leading lady Maxine (played in the series by Vanessa Williams), or some of the antics that unrolled in the first episode of the series, which premiered last week. Think things like comas, religion, a transgendered character, ageism, addiction, infertility, sexual harassment, plastic surgery and viral videos, for starters. And did we mention this show is only an hour long?
“There are a lot of timely and pertinent issues that we deal with, we hit a lot in our 10 episodes,” Williams tells us. “You’re dealing with five women, so everyone has things they’re dealing with. These women are on their own particular journeys, and while the appearance is somewhat soapy there definitely is a lot of heart.”
In case you missed the premiere, Daytime Divas picks up with lead host Maxine, and one of her co-stars, Mo (Tichina Arnold), duking it out over a video that went viral, in which Mo tells Maxine her vagina is on the floor. As a pick-me-up, Maxine heads to her favourite plastic surgeon’s office, only to fall into a coma while under the knife. The other four co-hosts then squabble about who will take on Maxine’s “left chair” while she’s indisposed.
“The challenge is to not laugh, especially in the scene where they’re praying on top of me in a circle and they’re cracking jokes,” Williams says of playing someone in a coma. “You just have to listen to your breath and make sure you don’t twitch but just kind of get in a very deep, relaxed state and then it’s easy.”
As for playing the overall role of Maxine? Williams believes the character is a combination of Walters and Jones, and that makes her a heck of a lot of fun to play.
“Maxine has a storied career, very similar to Barbara Walters in terms of interviewing popes and presidents and pop stars, and living a very kind of respected life. So I certainly think that Star was influenced by Barbara’s career, and they are still very great friends and keep in touch,” Williams says. “But I know Star as a person as well, and in terms of if anyone is going to be called a diva, she would be the one. The one that invites you over for champagne and she’s wearing a beaded caftan with amazing catering and gorgeous flowers. That’s her brand, that’s what she loves and that is certainly the diva lifestyle that I think Maxine also encompasses.”
It’s hard to imagine how Maxine will embrace that diva lifestyle from her hospital bed (at the end of the first episode she wakes up from her coma, only to decide to keep on faking it so that her show can fall apart without her), but we can’t wait to see what comes next. Apparently Williams can’t wait for us to see that either.
“This show has got wide appeal so get ready,” she says. “The first episode had a lot of exposition, but we really dive in with episode two, and it just keeps getting better and better, so stay tuned.”