“What a s–t show!” Vanessa Williams’ character declares as the series premiere of VH1’s Daytime Divas reaches its dramatic conclusion. “And the most fun of I’ve had in years.”
Williams’ character may be referring to The Lunch Hour — a fictional daytime talk show not unlike, say, The View — but her words are just as relevant to Daytime Divas, itself. Monday’s series premiere, an hourlong parade of brawls, backstabs and bitchy one-liners, is a solid sampling of what the grade-A guilty pleasure has to offer.
The small-screen equivalent of a dishy beach read, Daytime Divas is the perfect antidote for soap lovers who remain salty after the untimely cancellations of camp-fests like Devious Maids and Mistresses. (Full disclosure: Part of the fun comes from former View co-host Star Jones being an executive producer on the show, which is inspired by her aptly titled novel Satan’s Sisters.)
In order to effectively discuss everything that goes down in Monday’s premiere, I think we need to break things down diva by diva:
* Maxine Robinson (Williams) reigns supreme as the creator of The Lunch Hour, but when a routine facelift (or “throat surgery,” according to a press release) lands her in a coma, her co-hosts start eyeing her coveted left chair like a pack of camera-ready vultures. Maxine is so irked by their behavior, in fact, that she decides to withhold the news that she’s woken from her coma just to watch them squirm. It’s in these particularly wrathful moments that Williams basically slips back into playing Ugly Betty‘s Wilhelmina Slater — and I’m not complaining one bit.
* Mo Evans (Everybody Hates Chris‘ Tichina Arnold) is the comedian of the group, but no one is laughing when her “P.A. with benefits” Leon (Awkward‘s Niko Pepaj) blackmails her with a sex tape after she kicks him to the curb. With her job now on the line — not that it wasn’t already on the line — Mo threatens to expose Maxine’s alleged “throat surgery” for what it really is. (Mo also deserves a shoutout for delivering my favorite line of the night about the time she had to a live on-air colonic: “Surprise! I was full of s–t!”)
* Kibby Ainsley (Faking It‘s Chloe Bridges) is a “sexually fluid” former child star — not to mention a reformed train wreck — who credits Maxine with keeping her on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, a not-so-chance encounter with her money-grubbing mother sends Kibby off the deep end… and wouldn’t you know it, she lands nose-first in a mountain of cocaine. Were it not for Kibby’s quick-thinking girlfriend, she’d be rotting in a jail cell as we speak.
* Nina Sandoval (Gotta Kick It Up‘s Camille Guaty) takes pride in being known as The Lunch Hour’s “serious” co-host, but the former war reporter is keeping the biggest story of all under wraps: She’s cheating on her husband… with Maxine’s son — and Lunch Hour executive producer — Shawn! (She alludes to having a few other skeletons in her closet, but I think we have enough to chew on for now.)
* And last, but definitely not least, is Heather Flynn-Kellog (Wilfred‘s Fiona Gubelmann), a squeaky clean conservative with a hot mess of a home life; though she appears to be (mostly) supportive of her transgender daughter, the series premiere drops more than a flew clues suggesting that her angry husband doesn’t approve — and might be physically taking out his anger on Heather.
Your thoughts on Daytime Divas‘ inaugural outing? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.