STOP, WATCH, LIS­TEN

Sunday Times - - Contents - WORDS BY Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi

Celebri­ties are just like us only richer and bet­ter look­ing

What

Red Ta­ble Talk, a can­did talk show

Who

Jada Pinkett Smith, Wil­low Smith, Adri­enne Banfield-Nor­ris

Why care

Celebri­ties, they’re just like us (only richer and with bet­ter makeup)

Where to find it

face­book.com/redtabletalk

If you’re a cyn­i­cal per­son who hates sac­cha­rine tele­vi­sion or any­thing Oprah-es­que, look away now. Red Ta­ble Talk, ac­tor Jada Pinkett Smith’s new talk show, is not for you. But if you love laugh­ing as much as you love cry­ing, if you en­joy ‘aha’ mo­ments and watch­ing beau­ti­ful (and rich) peo­ple pour­ing their hearts out to show us that yes, they too are hu­man, then you’d bet­ter tune in.

The talk show is in­for­mal — no stu­dio au­di­ence or any of those weird lights talk shows use — and, as Smith has de­scribed it, is meant to feel “organic” (i.e. not forced in any way).

The show fea­tures Smith at a red ta­ble (hence the ti­tle) with her 64-year-old mother, Adri­enne Banfield-Nor­ris, and her 17-year-old daugh­ter Wil­low Smith. The three gen­er­a­tions of women talk can­didly about ev­ery­thing from moth­er­hood and mar­riage to self-harm and sex, while Pinkett Smith also chats with other guests (from hubby Will Smith’s ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, to ac­tor/ mem­oirist Gabrielle Union).

There are also ‘Ask Live’ fea­turettes that are more viewer-in­volved dis­cus­sions ex­plor­ing top­ics cov­ered in pre­vi­ous episodes.

Mainly filmed in Pinkett Smith’s Cal­i­for­nia home, Red Ta­ble Talk con­tin­ues the newish trend of celebs invit­ing us into their homes for talk shows or spe­cials (Khloe Kar­dashian’s short-lived Kock­tails with Khloe — which I’m not ashamed to ad­mit I re­ally en­joyed — im­me­di­ately comes to mind).

The show (avail­able on Face­book Watch, the so­cial me­dia gi­ant’s video on de­mand ser­vice) def­i­nitely doesn’t feel forced at all — and this is both its strength and its weak­ness. The in­for­mal set­ting and the clear lack of script make it feel more sin­cere (very im­por­tant for a talk show) but it also means episodes some­times feel as though they could have been fleshed out a bit bet­ter.

The fact that such a show has a celeb name at­tached to it is great, but it’s also a draw­back be­cause it means that no one is rein­ing in their celebrity host (a lit­tle bit more di­rec­tion would make this show even bet­ter).

As en­joy­able as each episode is and as in­spir­ing as the hon­esty is (the episode where Wil­low re­veals to her grand­mother and mother that she used to cut her­self is in­cred­i­ble to watch), some­times it feels like we’re just watch­ing celebri­ties talk about them­selves, yet again.

It’s def­i­nitely not on the level of The Tyra Banks

Show be­cause it doesn’t pre­tend to be about other peo­ple while it’s ac­tu­ally about its celebrity host.

Red Ta­ble Talk is about the lived ex­pe­ri­ence of Pinkett Smith and her fam­ily, as well as her guests. And while I guess the viewer is sup­posed to glean some lessons or find things to re­late to in each episode, it some­times still feels a bit like voyeurism dis­guised as depth.

I’ll still be tun­ing in for those new episodes though, be­cause de­spite my mis­giv­ings, the show is en­dear­ingly hon­est and a re­fresh­ing watch.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Wil­low Smith and Adri­enne Banfield-Nor­ris.

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