Just 15 minutes into her debut Monday as a new cast member on The View, Jenny McCarthy started twerking.
If we may be so bold as to speak for the nation at large, we’d be happy to never hear the word “twerking” again, following the week’s-long 24/7 coverage afforded to Miley Cyrus’s booty-bouncing circus act at the MTV Video Music Awards. Still, as she crouched down in front of legendary broadcast journalist Barbara Walters and EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg, presented her bottom into the air, and gave her best jiggle, McCarthy proved why she is a necessary addition to the long-running morning program, which lost co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar at the end of last season.
Shamelessness is always a fun trait to have in a morning-show host. Twerking on her first day, McCarthy clearly has that in spades. But her qualifications go beyond that, making her an unlikely fit for The View.
In the past, McCarthy’s said she’s “built like a bunny and talks like a dude.” Now, the rabbit man is on the panel of women most often compared to squawking hens, making her by her own admission an ill fit, apparently neither the same gender nor species as her View compatriots.
But The View is a zoo on its tamest mornings. And the zoo can always use a new animal.
There are two periods of her life that most people know McCarthy from. There was her mid-90s reign as America’s favorite farting sexpot, a Playboy centerfold and host of MTV’s Singled Out. On the show, she was the epitome of Marilyn Monroe hotness, but subbed loud belches for breathy coos—and then laughed about it. The Cool Girl. Then there’s her more recent—and controversial—crusade against vaccinating children, opinions that made her a polarizing choice for The View’s new co-host. The Opinionated Girl.
But taken together, those competing aspects of her life make her well-suited for the bipolar tone of morning shows, where a segment about Justin Bieber will be followed by a chat with President Obama before the episode wraps up with a dog fashion show. A good host should be smart—and vocally so—but also shrewd and irreverent enough to embrace the fluff. McCarthy is certainly all of that, as she’s proven with her own attempts at hosting a solo talk show. But the test Monday was to see if she could successfully mix her own flavor of that skill with the Goldberg-Walters-Sherri Shepherd brand that’s already been working for years.
Cautiously, she passes.
McCarthy is an interesting hybrid of Hasselbeck and Behar’s best attributes—and least when speaking in terms of “good TV.” She’s brassy and unfiltered, like Behar was, but whereas Behar’s quips were of the “One Night Only in Reno” stand-up variety, McCarthy’s dry humor ages the show back down to the Twitter age. (Proving her value as a co-host early on, McCarthy explained to Goldberg what a hashtag is.)
She also brings, as Hasselbeck did, passionate opinions. Just like Hasselbeck’s alone-on-a-limb political stances proved polarizing, McCarthy’s anti-vaccination stances have led critics like The Daily Beast’s Tricia Romano to call her hiring on The View “dangerous.”
There was little opportunity on Monday’s premiere for McCarthy to expound on her theories, or, really, talk about anything of substance at all. With much of the hour focused on welcoming her to the show, the episode was all candy and no meat and potatoes. In fact, the episode was the very embodiment of the morning’s startling news that Americans are 12 times more interested in Miley Cyrus than Syria: the show’s longest segment was devoted to twerking.
That, however, says more about the nature of morning shows than McCarthy’s performance.
Still, it was in that segment about twerking that she proved her worth as a woman with a very unique perspective, one that will set her apart from her colleagues. As someone who built her career on taking off her clothes, for example, she’s able to give a particular brand of insight into what Miley Cyrus is thinking when she decides to lick a woman’s buttcrack and faux-masturbate with a foam finger on national television.
And, showing that she shouldn’t be alienated because of her status as a former centerfold, she dutifully jumped right in with chit-chat about the trials and tribulations of raising children. “I’m grateful to have a job. I’m a single mother,” is one of the first things McCarthy said on the show, all but flashing in neon lights to the women watching, “I may have been in Playboy but I’m just like you!” To her credit, she’s right in that claim, as her story about her son harboring frogs during the summer and trying to sneak one through the airport security line was almost expertly endearing.
If there’s any reason to withhold a verdict on McCarthy’s performance, it’s because Monday’s show was so much about her—the first guest was even her real-life boyfriend, actor/former boyband member Donnie Wahlberg. Sitting next to Wahlberg and being quizzed jointly about their relationship, it was as if she was, to some degree, still a guest on the show and not one of its cast members.
But she’s twerking hard to try and fit in. And, you know what? She just might.