After a star-studded week of shows honoring the two-and-a-half decades of The Oprah Winfrey Show, its final hour aired today with just Oprah -- in a fabulous pink dress, dripping in diamonds -- alone on the stage, recalling the show's history and imparting some final words of wisdom and thanks to her unparalleled loyal audience. We joke a lot about Oprah, but I've loved the show since I was a kid, so I decided to watch and write a minute-by-minute account of the final hour of the most influential talk show of all time. Read and comment along, and we'll all get through this together.
4:00: We begin with a short montage of Oprah's very first broadcast, the one that started it all. Her hair was as big as she was eventually inspiring!
4:01: Oprah takes the stage, greeted by a screaming, crying, extremely colorful (everyone in the audience got a call to wear neon primaries, apparently) standing ovation. The reaction is similar to the one "Oprah's Favorite Things" elicits, except, of course, Oprah is our favorite thing. That is almost poetic.
4:03: Lots of clips from Oprah's early broadcast years, when she didn't even have a publicist (no way to live!), and had to live by her wits. These were dark times, indeed. All she had to her name was "just a Jheri curl and a bad fur coat." OK, she's right, that does sound quite rough.
4:04: Apparently, before she was well-known, Southerners used to turn to one another and say "Y'all seen that black girl on the teevee named Ofrah?" Oh, how far we've all come.
4:05: And now, for the part I've been waiting for all week: Oprah mocks her bad hairstyles and giant earrings over the years. I have no idea why, but the sight of Oprah standing in front of a giant photo of herself in some ridiculous shoulder-padded sweater or something and pointing and laughing at her own image has always been exceedingly delightful to me. It's like the one time I actually genuinely feel like she's a normal person, I think.
4:06: Wow, even Stedman was trotted out for this. But where the hell is Gayle?
4:08: Oprah is now discussing how vital it is that people respond to their "callings" in life, like making pies or training puppies. Oddly, she does not include "blogging," which I'm choosing not to take personally.
4:09: Remember when Tina Turner was on the show 78 times? Haha! Good times.
4:10: Back to more rambling about callings and self-actualization and having your own talk show at work, I think, and also giving, and having powers and living from the heart of yourself. I love Oprah dearly, and she has done so much for so many people, she truly has, but I'm sorry, sometimes she talks like a damn cult leader.
4:15: Just noticed the Paul Simon theme song. Very serene. She should sell this to spas and prisons across the country.
4:17: Oprah is highlighting a message board poster who writes, "I never knew I had a light in me until you told me it was there." See? Beautiful, yet cult-y.
4:18: Oprah mentions for the second time that there will be no prizes awarded at this taping. Is it possible to giggle scornfully and deferentially at the same time? Because I think I just heard the audience do it.
4:18: Oprah acknowledges how trashy and Jerry Springer-tastic her show used to be. Yes, I know I'm disgusting for feeling nostalgia towards these clips, but you can't help who you love.
4:19: "What is your life? What is every flower, every rock, every tree? Energy. And you are responsible for the energy you bring to others. All life is energy, and we are transmitting it at every moment." I understand what she means, but imagine someone other than Oprah saying that statement to you and tell me you wouldn't run from their wacko ass.
4:21: She is now insisting all that Chakra talk has a basis in physics. Oprah, it's your party and you can talk crazy if you want to, but I have my limits.
4:22: Epic The Color Purple clip! I am back on board!
4:23: Happening now: A montage of all the people coming clean about alcoholism, rape, AIDS, obesity and domestic abuse on the show. "Little by little, we started to release the shame." It would be hyperbolic, but this is Oprah we're talking about. She really was the pioneer of releasing the Kraken of American secrets.
4:28: But look at all the fun we've had! Oprah riding an elephant, Oprah yelling at buildings with a bullhorn, Oprah in a Mission: Impossible harness.
4:29: More fun: Remember when Oprah had a family of heroin addicts on the show? That was amazing. How on earth did TLC let those people pass them by? A rare miss.
4:30: A lot of talk about how to have and distribute happiness. I have no idea. Sometimes I feel like Oprah is speaking a foreign language. Whatever it is (Oprahnese?), they should really add it to Rosetta Stone.
4:32: A clip featuring a woman in neon green boots making Oprah unbelievably uncomfortable launches a segment in which Oprah tells us that everyone wants to be heard, and that we should all listen to them. She's listened to 30,000 people over the course of her show, so you really have no excuse.
4:36: Another friendly reminder that this is "the last time." Thanks, I don't know why I keep forgetting!
4:37: HARPO employees work 17-hour days. Note to self: Do not work for Oprah, ever.
4:38: Oprah now thanking god, who is also a HARPO employee, for making the show such a success.
4:38: OH MY GOD SHE IS ACTING OUT HER FATHER'S SPERM FERTILIZING HER MOTHER'S EGG AND TALKING ABOUT HER CONCEPTION UNDER A TREE IN MISSISSIPPI. Normal.
4:40: Oprah: "You know how sometimes your brain-life is whispering inside you?" Oprah's audience: "Oh, totally." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but not by much.
4:44: Oprah wishes she could have done more for sexual abuse awareness over the years. Honestly, no snark here: she did more than anyone else on television ever has, but I can understand feeling like nothing's enough.
4:50: "Audience, I want to keep in touch! Here's my email: Oprah@Oprah.com." The "Have a nice summer" of media moguls, I guess.
4:50: "There are no coincidences, only divine order here." Doesn't count if god's on the payroll.
4:51: Oprah tears! Finally! Somebody trap them and sell them on eBay!
4:51: "From you whose names I will never know, you have shown me what love is. This show has been the great love of my life." Umm... Stedman's right there, woman. Also, this is how famewhores get that way, from hearing stuff like
that. I hope Stedman ends up on The Real World or something to deal with the pain of this snub.
4:56: But really, a very heartfelt thank you for watching, and then Oprah's out. And she even hugs Stedman on the way out. Aww.
Your reactions to the final show? Leave them in the comments!
Without Oprah, how will we know how to feel or what to read? Vloggers Beth & Val bid farewell in this video:
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