The Today Show just went through a divorce. Based on statistics, the scene which played out on our television screens was familiar to more than half the viewing audience. It was to me.
I was the child of divorce. My mother and father split when I was just two. My father remarried immediately and later, so did my mom. Both have since enjoyed enduring and successful marriages, but the pain of the split was personal and long-lived. Fortunately, it was witnessed only by our families. The fracture in the Today Show was on public display. It was tacky, embarrassing and uncomfortable seeing an old friend humiliated through anonymous high-placed leaks. Then mercifully, but with dignity still intact, Ann Curry left the show, only to be replaced a mere twenty-four hours later by the new matriarch of the Today Show family, Savannah Guthrie.
The drama behind the scenes became the story. Ironically, it mirrored many of the NBC-owned reality franchises which this jewel of the morning generally prides itself on remaining above. Ann Curry got a rotten deal. It was a lucrative deal, but lousy and humiliating just the same. I have always held a soft spot in my heart for Ann. We shared an office for three years when we both worked in local television in the late 1980s. Ann is classy, respectful, intelligent and sensitive. She was part of the Today Show family for more than fourteen years. Newcomer Savannah Guthrie is no slouch. I worked alongside the talented lawyer turned tv legal analyst for months during the Michael Jackson molestation trial. Savannah wears her goofiness on her sleeve only to surprise you with her deft and incisive analysis and interviewing skills. She'll be fine.
But this isn't a battle of these women's individual merits any more than it was a judgment between my mom and my father's new wife. Frankly, each of my parents remarried and found spouses perfectly, and much better, suited for them. Perhaps the Today Show family will be lucky enough to have the same experience. This is really about the way the divorce and new partnership were handled, though, isn't it? Because we, the viewers, are the children in this family who had to endure this very public and uncomfortable break-up. When it happens in our own families it's a disorienting and world-shattering experience. It's awkward and distasteful to witness with our TV family.
I come from a broken family too. Fortunately, I don't have to be reminded of that every morning on network television.