This morning changed the future of television forever. To those rushing to work with nothing but the coffee maker on, the change was imperceptible. To anyone with a hand on the pulse of television programming and anyone tuned in to Lifetime, the change was undeniable. At seven on the dot, Suzanne Somers' new show, The Suzanne Show came on enveloped in lively colors and lights. The topic was desire. To get at it, Somers would make a journey through biology, gynecology, pop-psychology and personal narrative.
I was there when what would become the first episode of The Suzanne Show was taped in a lovely studio in the Valley here in Los Angeles. I had been put in touch with producers through BlogHer to be a part of this new show -- admittedly, I was hesitant at first. I'm a writer and editor, not someone who is at ease before the camera, but rather behind the scenes, thinking up stories, researching, ferreting out information -- but the idea of being part of a show that refuses to mind what are considered to be "palatable" morning television topics was greatly alluring. This is what I fight for -- a more open conversation about sexuality. To turn down the opportunity to be a part of this effort was not an option, no matter how camera shy I might feel I am.
Photo courtesy of Lifetime.
So there I was, at an ungodly hour of the morning, sitting under the lights in hair & makeup while I was coiffed and airbrushed so I'd look a little more alive than I felt before the required three cups of coffee. Somehow, I wasn't nervous. It was impossible to feel nervous in the hands of so many competent and attentive people. If someone could promise me that television was always the way it is on the set of The Suzanne Show, I'd consider recareering. Somehow, though, the experience feels particular to the group of professionals Somers has pulled around herself.
As I watched John Gray of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus fame talk with Suzanne Somers on the screen, it finally hit me -- not only is sex finally getting non-hysterical, non-sensationalized treatment on national daytime television, but BlogHer is getting a spotlight too. BlogHer, this wonderful community of women that has, since 2005, worked so hard to unify women online from all over the country and beyond. BlogHer, which has, since then, created economic opportunities for millions of women, myself included. BlogHer, which has, since 2009, paid women in a variety of online-related efforts, over $17 million.
This was still on my mind as Chuck Silverman, coordinating producer, walked me on the set, on tiptoes, so my heels wouldn't clap before the end of the segment that was being taped. People were scattered around the set, some on couches, some standing around the table, eating and drinking in silence as they watched. When the segment was finished, Suzanne walked down from her seat and smiled widely.
"Have you ever done TV before?" she asked.
"Not like this," I responded.
"I'll take care of you," she said with a contagious smile. There was no way I could have known at that moment, how serious she was. Her effortlessness on screen as we navigated from one topic to the next like we were two girlfriends sitting having coffee made me feel sufficiently at ease that I stopped thinking about what I was saying and simply started to speak -- genuinely, frankly.
We spoke about Fifty Shades of Grey, we spoke about whether women were more sexual now than they had ever been before (to which I responded, no, we have always been sexual, but this is the first time in a long time it’s socially acceptable for us to be out about our desires), we spoke about what I do, what BlogHer does, what some of the strangest fetishes I have encountered are, we spoke about bodies and the way hormones affect sexuality.
We spoke about everything. I don't know how long I sat with her. It could have been an hour; it could have been a moment. We hugged after the segment and I walked out of the studio walking on clouds.
That was a month ago. This morning, the episode aired on Lifetime, featuring the aforementioned John Gray, Scott Fogle and Stacey Nottingham from the vitamin empire Life Extension, Richard Sasso from MSC Cruises, and gynecologist Prudence Hall. The weekly, one-hour show will continue every Wednesday, featuring both experts and celebrities who will speak to a variety of subjects.
"The Suzanne Show is me unplugged," Somers writes. Considering everything we discussed, you’d be crazy not to believe it.