The chaotic, irreplaceable Wendy Williams

Asia's Tech News Daily

Centuries ago, those accused of gossip, primarily women, were locked into metal headpieces that restrained the mouth. Imagine what those medieval haters would think about Wendy Williams.

© Paras Griffin/Getty Images Wendy Williams speaks onstage during her celebration of 10 years of The Wendy Williams Show at the Buckhead Theatre, in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2018.

The 57-year-old host has been rattling off her opinions into millions of American living rooms since 2008. The Wendy Williams Show kicks off its 13th season this month. After several delays due to medical complications from Williams’s ongoing thyroid condition and a Covid-19 infection, guest hosts and panelists will occupy Williams’s seat for the foreseeable future.

Season 13 was scheduled to begin on September 20, then was suddenly pushed back to October 4. In an Instagram statement, it was announced that Williams had tested positive for a “breakthrough case” of Covid-19. This came as a surprise to many of her fans, since she had previously been outspoken about not wanting to get vaccinated. (Even the controversial Dr. Oz tried to convince her to get the shot.) Then, the premiere got pushed back again to October 18, but by October 12, her team released another statement announcing that Williams would not be returning, as she remains under daily medical supervision. The Wendy Williams Show did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However necessary, the guest hosts are an attempt to replace the irreplaceable — Williams’s ranking as a top daytime host has long been solid, competing only with the soon-to-depart Ellen DeGeneres and the women of The View. The guests who will take over her airtime are merely a stopgap, and are being met with mixed feelings in Williams’s Instagram comments, where her loyal fans have been vocal throughout her latest bout of health issues.

For over a decade between smirking laughter and sips from her mug, Williams has calmly eviscerated celebrity goings-on, razing their mishaps to the ground to lay at the feet of her live studio audience. She has kept her original mission through changing times and through her own struggles. Even early on, her penchant for showing no mercy was documented by the New York Times, in a 2008 article that described her as capable of being “startlingly mean-spirited.” This is what helped her amass a legion of fans, and also what has irritated her critics for so long; of late, the infractions have piled up.

The tide has turned on the kind of lurid gossip Williams traffics in; just look at the way the pop culture news cycle of the early aughts is being reevaluated. Still, her mix of bravado and vulnerability keeps her on our screens. Who is this woman anyway, and who let her onstage?

Wendy Williams built her career on saying things other people wouldn’t say

Williams, born in New Jersey, got her start in radio in the late 1980s. She worked her way up through DC- and New York-based stations, and by 1993 had earned a Billboard Radio Award, honoring her as the R&B Major Market Radio Air Personality of the Year. She gave her listeners candid advice and shared the details of her own life dramas. Williams was known for her fiery, unapologetic personality. According to a 2005 New York magazine profile, during her run at WBLS, her interns were instructed not to speak to her unless spoken to. She bounced around different stations into the 2000s, discussing pop and rap stars on-air. She’s also struggled publicly: with being fired and ostracized, with a cheating husband who was also her manager, with substance abuse issues and her chronic illnesses.

Williams made a name for herself by getting immensely personal with her listeners, which is perhaps why her fanbase is so enamored with her. Marie Nerestant, a 43-year-old in New York City, has been a Wendy fan since high school. Now, she watches The Wendy Williams Show every single day while her kids are at school.

“She speaks her truth,” Nerestant told me about why she is drawn to Williams’s commentary. “She says what everybody wants to say, but is too afraid to say.” This, she theorizes, is why so many people are put off by Williams.

Who is this woman anyway, and who let her onstage?

“She has her flaws, and she’s not afraid to say it. She has Graves’ disease. She has lymphedema. She went through a terrible divorce. She’s said everything. What else does she have to prove to anybody?”

Wendy hasn’t only spoken her own truth, though — and a fair share of celebrities have taken issue with Williams over the course of her career. In the ’90s, she had a habit of “outing” various rappers and pop stars, making claims that Sean Combs, Whitney Houston, and others were gay. These accusations were not taken lightly. Houston’s friend Robyn Crawford admitted that the pair planned to confront Williams over the gossip. Williams has also implied that Combs sent a girl group from his record label to assault her and intimated that he got her fired from Hot 97. Tupac even threw a diss at her in his music, after she made claims about his time in prison.

Despite the drama, Williams’s brashness attracted television execs, and in 2008 she was asked to do a trial run of her own syndicated talk show. It was a sweeping success. Immediately the show resonated, in particular with women between the ages of 18 and 54. Fox and BET jumped on the chance to broadcast the program, and the rest is history.

Her appeal to many Black women and gay men is crucial to her success, even though it is arguable that they should be most offended by her. And that is the strange magic of Wendy Williams.

Aside from her talk show, Williams has done standup, acted in movies, written books (fiction and nonfiction), and appeared in a Broadway production of Chicago. Just this past January, she simultaneously released a biopic and a documentary through Lifetime. Last fall, she was revealed as a performer on The Masked Singer, costumed as a big mouth, which is, well, pretty on the nose.

Williams’s daytime gig, however, is more than enough job for most. Her typically tireless schedule means that everyone with cable has likely come across her at some point or another. Stay-at-home mothers, children home sick, patients in doctors’ waiting rooms, and the like all cross paths with Wendy. Her celebrity gossip segment, aptly titled “Hot Topics,” dissects the latest entertainment news and might be the purest expression of the Wendy Williams persona. She talks, and the audience listens.

Williams’s fans love her, but they don’t always agree with her

The intimacy of The Wendy Williams Show is its main strength; Williams lounges in her purple armchair not just before her audience, but as if they’re sitting at the same table together. When she gossips, notoriously unscripted, it feels like chatting with a friend. She calls her fans her “co-hosts.”

While a host like Ellen DeGeneres speaks to celebrities the way a friend would, Williams speaks to and about them as if she is not also a celebrity. She has no issue prying or having guests on the show that she has previously gossiped about. She separates herself from the celebrity tribe and puts herself at the level of the viewer, ignoring the tension that might exist between her role and her own fame.

The format of The Wendy Williams Show has not changed much over time. Neither has its host, who remains often brutal toward celebrities. According to her fans, this is part of the appeal — but also, not always their favorite thing.

“I prefer when she keeps it light,” says Tracy Turner, a 54-year-old fan who watches Wendy a few times a week. For the past eight years, Turner has been tuning in to see what Williams has to say, whether it’s for her recurring celebrity lookalike segment or giving advice to audience members. What Turner is less interested in is when the commentary turns a little nasty, as in Williams’s unsolicited “advice” on the rocky relationship of Love & Hip-Hop stars Safaree Samuels and Erica Mena.

It seemed like a randomly fired shot, but in Turner’s opinion, there are some people who Williams just does not like, and it affects her coverage of them. “She used to come for the Kardashians, but then she met them, and then she changed the narrative,” Turner said. While Williams’s opinions can flip-flop — much to the annoyance of some of her fans — they also reflect a very human impulse. Her feelings are allowed to change, regardless of how forcibly she expresses them, even for, as Turner points out, sometimes indiscernible reasons. These shifts make her that much more unpredictable, which is compelling to those who have watched the nature of her fame change over time. When your audience doesn’t take you 100 percent seriously, it makes you much harder to cancel.

What follows is a brief synopsis of Wendy Williams’s most-cancelable hits: There was her explosive conversation with Whitney Houston in her radio days, where she asked Houston how her drug use affected her family (Williams has detailed her own issues with cocaine). Houston hung up on her. On the radio in 2006, Williams leaked that Method Man’s wife had cancer before some of the couple’s own family members even knew. She’s had to apologize for claiming that gay men “should leave skirts and heels to women.” When Terry Crews spoke out about being sexually assaulted, she said he was “not brave.”

In 2018, she complained about the Me Too movement and defended R. Kelly, who had long been accused of and was just last month convicted of sexual abuse. She later changed her mind, calling him “sick” and condemning his actions. She has misgendered a trans athlete and made ill-informed, transphobic jokes.

In July, Williams implied that the marriage of actress and vegan influencer Tabitha Brown, who recently was able to help her husband financially so he could retire from the LAPD, was doomed to fail, and reminded Williams of her own situation with her ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

She separates herself from the celebrity tribe and puts herself at the level of the viewer, ignoring the tension that might exist between her role and her own fame

“That was out of anger. I don’t think she meant what she said,” Nerestant said. Perhaps Williams’s comments came from a place of projection due to her own romantic pains, Nerestant suggested, but said Williams was out of pocket nonetheless. “I didn’t agree with what she said. She was reaching a little bit, but she’s hurt and she’s still hurting. It’s just a process that she has to deal with.”

Over the years, Williams has repeatedly mocked Britney Spears, but in a twist that was so out of left field it was comedic, she recently declared “death to them all!” in reference to Spears’s conservators. The clip has since been scrubbed from her YouTube channel but lives on in TikTok audios.

Williams’s most recent and arguably worst offense was a takedown of 19-year-old TikTok user Matima Miller, known to fans as Swavy. Williams delivered the news of Miller’s murder by comparing her follower count to his and proclaiming that she had “no idea who this person is, and neither does one person in this building.” It was a stomach-turning, senseless blow to his family, who are not famous by any means. The list of controversies goes on and on.

Despite Williams’s often crude commentary, advertisers don’t seem dissuaded (Chevrolet once dropped her for complaining about historically Black colleges and universities, but that’s about it), and viewers still tune in. She is simply a natural at being on television. She glides from segment to segment as if she is just catching up with her viewers — did you hear so-and-so did this? What do you all think about this, that, and the other that what’s-his-name was caught doing last week?

Even if fans don’t always approve of her approach, they wholly believe in her right to have a platform, regardless of who it bothers. They may be frustrated by her, but they also feel a kinship, even a kind of ownership, over her.

“She just wouldn’t be who she was today without stepping on some people’s toes and hurting some people’s feelings,” Nerestant said.

The internet loves Wendy Williams … kind of

Wendy Williams, the person, isn’t very online. On Instagram, she merely posts recaps of her show, blurry photos of her meals (her commenters don’t hesitate to tell her when the food looks gross), and the occasional selfie. The account itself isn’t strictly business or personal, but it mostly operates as a promotional account for the show itself.

Even if Wendy Williams isn’t really on the internet, in some ways she embodies its attitudes. Conversations about celebrities are always rude and outlandish online, with or without Wendy on the air. It is so easy to dogpile on Williams — a person who has said some awful things and has the nerve not to cower afterward, even though she is in the spotlight herself. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine back in 2019, Williams was asked why people are interested in celebrity gossip. Her response was simple: “Celebrity lives are something that people can live vicariously through,” she said. “It takes people’s minds off their own troubles. Everybody has troubles.”

Williams gets paid to be judgmental, which is what a lot of people spend all day doing for free. Online, we’re all talk show hosts who can fire off a hot take tweet, go on a live rant, or create a slideshow of opinions theorizing on a celebrity romance. In fact, many online comment sections, threads, and forums use Williams as a tool — between user clapbacks and questions, her image dances, stares, and grimaces in GIF form through it all. Her relevance continues because Williams’s image has arguably become bigger and more significant than her actual show — maybe even bigger than Williams herself.

Williams’s image has often been used as an instrument in that appropriation as the internet forges a world built in the likeness of Blackness

As one TikTok user put it, she comes off as “a caricature of a woman.” Her baritone “How you doin’?” catchphrase is instantly recognizable. There’s the unfortunate clip of her fainting on-air while dressed as the Statue of Liberty for a Halloween episode. There’s an endless arsenal of pouty, shocked-looking photos of her, and internet users gravitate toward them as reaction GIFs and pics. There are countless edits of her body, warped to make her appear bug-eyed like an alien or contorted to make her torso as thin as a rail. Her being is primed for virality because there are so few famous people who are as theatrical or as unnerving.

Her television audience is a loyal bunch, but her internet audience is much less kind. They see her as sort of a joke of a figure. Her memeification both proves and reinforces her popularity, but her meme status is complicated — there is real adoration and endearment there, but it’s also mixed in with casual, unfamiliar “fanship” which sees her as less of a three-dimensional person and more of, for lack of a better term, a human emoji.

On a sociological level, it’s fascinating and revealing, but it’s also somewhat dangerous when one considers the social implications of making a Black woman so separate from personhood. As Bea Forman wrote for The Goods, the online adoption of memes and slang from Black people is “committed so casually and frequently that it feels like the default mode of shitposting.”

It’s no fault of her own, but Williams’s image has often been used as an instrument in that appropriation as the internet forges a world built in the likeness of Blackness. Her prevalence on Black and gay Twitter has parlayed her into wider consciousness, as such things go. In the public imagination, she is not a person but an idea. She is camp. She is, as she once said of Lil’ Kim, “an icon, a legend, and she is the moment.”

© David Livingston/Getty Images Wendy Williams with her recently awarded star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The fact of the matter is that being disrespectful about a dead teen isn’t enough to take Wendy off the air. For 13 years, Williams has clocked into her show daily, guns ablazing. The public might be growing more vocal in its criticisms, but even amid health concerns, she has kept her seat onstage.

Still, her onscreen future now feels in flux. Williams has only taken a few brief hiatuses before — due to Covid-19 production stops, to deal with health issues from her Graves’ disease and lymphedema, and to mourn the death of her mother.

That’s why it was so unusual when the new season of Wendy was postponed.

“I hope it helps to put things in perspective,” Turner said of Williams’s current health issues. “But there is a place for what she does. She is loved by pop culture.”

Despite her illness, she was seen by the paparazzi vaping in a car in New York City in September, and tabloid rumors are circulating that she may have fallen out of sobriety. In 2019, after discovering that her ex-husband was having a child with his girlfriend, she checked into a sober living home to prevent herself from relapsing. Additionally, she was recently admitted to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Her brother has stated that this time may be particularly difficult for her, due to the anniversary of their mother’s death approaching as well.

It’s difficult to parse, and perhaps unfair to speculate, whether Williams is on her way off the air after a rough beginning to her latest season. It almost seems like nothing will stop The Wendy Williams Show until she decides to end it. Until then, it’s hard to completely hate the player. As long as there’s a market for casual chaos, Williams will have a niche to fill. We can moralize and debate about whether her work serves our society, but as with so much of television, it just serves to entertain — and Wendy does the job with more flair than most would dare to muster.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Policelli scores 22 to lead Stony Brook over Yale 85-81

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Frankie Policelli made four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points as Stony Brook narrowly beat Ivy League favorite Yale 85-81 on Sunday. Anthony Roberts ... Read more »

No. 4 Kansas beats Iona 96-83 in 1st Self-Pitino meeting

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Christian Braun had 18 points and seven rebounds, Ochai Agbaji added 17 points, and No. 4 Kansas beat Iona 96-83 on Sunday in the ... Read more »

5-year-old fatally shot by Minnesota teen making social media video on Thanksgiving, police say

A 5-year-old boy was shot and killed on Thanksgiving after a Minnesota teenager accidentally fired a gun while making a video for social media, authorities said. After 10 p.m. on ... Read more »

Fordham needs 2 OTs to hold off Central Connecticut, 89-83

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — Darius Quisenberry scored the final four of his team-high 27 points from the free throw line in the final seconds of the second overtime period ... Read more »

Lakeland Police Department officers on paid administrative leave after shooting, killing suspect

LAKELAND — Two Lakeland Police officers are on paid administrative leave after shooting and killing a suspect they said shot at them from a parked vehicle along Interstate 4 near ... Read more »

Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber lead tributes to Virgil Abloh after death at 41

Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Justin Timberlake were among the stars paying tribute to “once in a generation creative mind” Virgil Abloh after his death at 41. The Louis Vuitton ... Read more »

Mental Health: Woman with mental illness wielding a shovel is killed by highly trained deputy

WAHNETA — Jessica Hernandez, 14, was off from school for Veteran’s Day, sitting at her kitchen table on a rainy afternoon in Wahneta when she heard a man yelling “Stop! ... Read more »

Hartman scores in 3rd straight; Wild beat Lightning 4-2

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Hartman broke a 2-all tie midway through the third period, and the Minnesota Wild beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Sunday. Hartman scored ... Read more »

Giants hold off mistake-prone Eagles as Jalen Hurts throws three interceptions

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It was ugly in every way possible for the Eagles on offense. Jalen Hurts had thrown three interceptions, including one at the end of the first ... Read more »

Buccaneers escape with last-minute victory over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS — For the third time this season, the Colts failed to finish a game against a playoff contender. Indianapolis coughed away a halftime lead by failing to run the ... Read more »

B.C. floods: ‘Time to be ready,' says minister of public safety as more storms approach

B.C. Deputy Premier and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Sunday that more storms and rainfall are expected to hit the province, and urged people to be prepared and ... Read more »

B.C. floods: Officials provide support to First Nations affected by Highway 8 damage

B.C. Deputy Premier and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Sunday that the Emergency Management in B.C. is coordinating efforts and ensuring deliveries of essentials, food, coal and medication ... Read more »

B.C. floods: Minister of transportation provides update on road closures

B.C. Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming said on Sunday that the ministry proactively closed parts of Highways 1, 3 and 99 ahead of the current storm event due to increased ... Read more »

The 30 best gifts for men to get on sale during Cyber Monday 2021

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Shopping for a gift for the man in your life is ... Read more »

Yoko Ono's cryptic post supports the idea she didn't break up The Beatles

Yoko Ono has shared an article compiled of fans’ messages supporting her over claims she was the one who caused The Beatles to split. The late John Lennon’s widow has ... Read more »

Argument leads to deadly shooting in Southeast Austin, police say; 2nd homicide in less than a week

A man was killed in a shooting early Sunday in Southeast Austin, adding to an unprecedented death toll as police investigate more than 80 homicides this year. Austin police said ... Read more »

Patriots blast Titans, shaking up top of AFC playoff picture

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Some people say that real football starts after Thanksgiving. For the Patriots, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to this holiday season. The Patriots’ 2-4 ... Read more »

Mixon runs for career-high 165 yards, Bengals crush Steelers

CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Mixon rushed for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns, Joe Burrow scrambled ran for a score and passed for another one and the Cincinnati Bengals ... Read more »

Keira Knightley and daughters have corona, husband no complaints

“He is very complacent about it. He’s convinced it’s because he’s one of those cold water swimmers and I’m not,” Keira said in a Zoom interview with The Telegraph. Although ... Read more »

Mexicans hope for recovery of monarch butterflies

FILE – Monarch butterflies cling to branches in their winter nesting grounds in El Rosario Sanctuary, near Ocampo, Michoacan state, Mexico, Jan. 31, 2020. Communal farmers and butterfly guides are ... Read more »

Jones throws 2 TD passes, Patriots roll past Titans 36-13

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Mac Jones threw two touchdown passes, New England’s defense forced four turnovers and the Patriots earned their sixth straight win, rolling past the Tennessee Titans 36-13 ... Read more »

Duke's Cutcliffe won't return after 'mutual' separation

David Cutcliffe won’t return for a 15th season as Duke’s coach after the school announced a “mutual agreement for separation” on Sunday following the Blue Devils’ winless Atlantic Coast Conference ... Read more »

Belo, Bishop carry Montana State over SE Missouri 75-68

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jubrile Belo had 17 points to lead five Montana State players in double figures as the Bobcats beat Southeast Missouri 75-68 in the title game of ... Read more »

Duke says football coach David Cutcliffe won't return for 15th season after 'mutual agreement' following 0-8 ACC season

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke says football coach David Cutcliffe won’t return for 15th season after ‘mutual agreement’ following 0-8 ACC season. Read more »

Wilson returns, Jets end skid with 21-14 win over Texans

HOUSTON (AP) — Zach Wilson threw for 145 yards and ran for a touchdown in his return from a sprained right knee, helping the New York Jets rally for a ... Read more »

Giants' defense smothers Eagles 13-7, gets 2 picks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants’ defense rose up to intercept Jalen Hurts three times and held Philadelphia to a season-low in points in beating the error-prone ... Read more »

Dolphins win 4th straight, roll past Panthers 33-10

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jaylen Waddle had nine catches for a season-best 137 yards and a touchdown, and the Miami Dolphins forced Cam Newton into one of the worst ... Read more »

'A once in a generation creative mind': Kanye West, more stars mourn designer Virgil Abloh

The fashion world is paying tribute to Virgil Abloh, the trailblazing Louis Vuitton director who died Sunday at age 41. Abloh, the artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear and founder ... Read more »

Duke parts ways with football coach David Cutcliffe after 14 seasons

Duke parted wayswith head football coach David Cutcliffe on Sunday after he spent 14 seasons at the helm, the school announced. The Blue Devils lost to Miami on Saturday, their ... Read more »

Break-in suspect dies in shootout with police in Seekonk

SEEKONK – A man is dead after he fled the scene of a break-in, crashed his vehicle and then exchanged gunfire with police officers in Seekonk on Sunday morning, according ... Read more »

Orlov scores late, Caps beat Hurricanes for 9th win in 11

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Dmitry Orlov scored on a power play with 2:55 remaining, and the Washington Capitals recovered after blowing a two-goal lead to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 ... Read more »

Doutzen Kroes denounces corona policy, but did catch thousands of euros of corona support show

This writes Quote based on public data from the UWV about NOW support for entrepreneurs. In total, the top model received 18,817 euros in NOW support over the five application ... Read more »

Falcons take advantage of Jaguars' mistakes in 21-14 victory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Cordarrelle Patterson scored twice in his return from an ankle injury, and the Atlanta Falcons found the end zone and the win column for the first ... Read more »

Bergevin out in Montreal as Canadiens shake up front office

The Montreal Canadiens fired general manager Marc Bergevin and two other executives Sunday as the team finds itself mired in on-ice struggles just months after advancing to the Stanley Cup ... Read more »

The organizer of the 'Stop the Steal' rally that led up to the Capitol riot said he will comply with a congressional subpoena because he doesn't have 'money to spend on legal bills'

With the Washington Monument in the background, people attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana “Stop the Steal” ... Read more »

Erin and Ben Napier Shared Their Wedding Photos on Instagram, and Fans Are So Emotional

Photo credit: Gary Gershoff – Getty Images Here's to lucky number 13 for Erin and Ben Napier! The happy couple, and stars of HGTV's Home Town, took to Instagram to ... Read more »

Trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, alleged accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein, set to start Monday

The trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping her close confidant Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse underage girls, is set to begin on Monday, more ... Read more »

How a Chinese Covid-19 drug was created in an instant – after years in the making

Chinese viral immunologist Zhang Linqi considers himself lucky that he and his team developed a Covid-19 treatment and vaccine so swiftly and so effectively. Zhang, based at Tsinghua University in ... Read more »

Australia confirms two cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant

Travelers stand at a Virgin Australia Airlines counter at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Australia confirmed on Sunday that two people arriving from southern Africa over the ... Read more »

Winter Weather Brings Snowfall to England's Lake District

Winter weather continued across parts of Scotland and northern England on November 28, dumping snow and sleet in many areas. Storm Arwen brought gusts of almost 100 mph when it ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic