The View’ Co-Host Whoopi Goldberg Says This Reality TV Show is Responsible for Society’s Decline

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Nov 19, 2023

Whoopi Goldberg, The View anchor, and an EGOT winner, stated her opinion that reality TV has significantly contributed to the apparent “downfall of society.” She cited the reality competition American Idol as a significant cause. 

According to Whoopi, the power to evaluate others, which contestants experience on “American Idol,” has gotten out of hand. Whoopi believes that it is having a harmful impact on society as a whole. Let’s see why.

The Impact of Reality Shows on Perception

During a conversation on The View, Whoopi emphasized the detrimental effects of reality television, using Netflix’s Anna Nicole Smith documentary as an example. She suggested that the judgemental climate fostered by programs like Basketball Wives and the Housewives series made viewers feel inadequate about their own lives. 


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According to Whoopi, viewers of these programs are attracted to them because they love passing judgment on others, which feeds a loop that has, in her opinion, led to society’s downfall.

Humans Use Society As a Mirror

Mainstream media may amplify Goldberg’s comment and make it seem divisive. However, it is the same fact that the average psychology professor teaches their college students.


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But we can expect her comments to strike home differently because Goldberg is a public figure. It is true that humans are often judgmental, but more often than not, they do it intuitively, without even realizing.

'Judging' May Be a Strong Word in this Context

We all actively assess our environment and the society around us, then act—or react—accordingly to what we see or perceive. What Goldberg was trying to say about the reality shows she mentioned is their effect on the viewers.


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 Yes, there is nothing wrong with assessing a situation or an individual based on personal standards. However, viewers of those reality shows tend to hurdle around and condescend to the opinion of some judges. 

Reality Shows Are Making Us Opinionated Zombies

It is good to have our individual opinions; in fact, it is one of the things that makes us who we are. However, opinions are meant to be a personal metric for assessing the world around us. 


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Unfortunately, as Goldberg has pointed out, TV reality shows are making opinionated zombies out of each of us. No more are people making objective decisions based on their personal standards. Now, society largely depends on packaged and commercialized opinions from ratings-seeking media outlets. 

Housewives of 'Opinionville'

There has been a recent increase in the number of body-enhancing surgeries among married women. Interestingly, most of the women concerned won’t admit they were influenced into making some of these decisions. 

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However, looking a little deeper into these women’s lives would reveal how much opinion they’ve been ingesting from mainstream media. It is no surprise that plastic surgeons are the current celebrity doctors. 


Probably a Goof On Live TV

From the way Goldberg’s comments on American Idol progressed, it is easy to assume that she had gotten boxed into a corner. There is a high likelihood that she wouldn’t have taken the discussion in that direction if it were possible to predict the backlash it would eventually attract. 

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American Idol came into the picture when the other hosts of The View started a discussion to review Netflix’s You Don’t Know Me—a documentary about Anna Nicole. 


A Sharp Recovery

To buttress what she perceived as society’s penchant and drive for judging spontaneously, Goldberg then struggled to name a reality show that started the downward spiral. 

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An ABC producer, who was offscreen, asked if the show she was trying to recollect is ABC’s American Idol. Instead of responding with an outright ‘yes,’ Goldberg pointed out that American Idol had not always been produced by ABC, and that her initial statement applies to the early version of the show—which was produced by the FOX Network. 


Evolution of "American Idol" and Viewer Judgment

In her subsequent comments about American Idol, Whoopi acknowledged that her criticism was directed at the program’s earlier seasons, notably those when Simon Cowell served as a judge. 

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She said the program changed when it moved from Fox to ABC, including new judges and competitors. Whoopi emphasized that she had spoken with the network about her concerns and that her criticism was not meant at ABC but rather at the program itself.


Caught Between Diverging Intents

While Goldberg’s comment was correct, she immediately tried to downplay its meaning after realizing the trajectory the discussion was taking. ABC is the TV Network currently producing both The View and American Idol

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Viewers would love to have the highly judgmental version of American Idol, like what they got during the FOX seasons, while ABC prefers a less brutal show. Consequently, the TV ratings of the show have gone on a downward spiral.


The Watered-Down Version and its Influence

The recent version of American Idol has come under fire for being too forgiving to candidates and giving less constructive feedback. The show’s decreased ratings over the previous ten years have been partly attributed to this change in judging style. 

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Simon Cowell’s supporters contend that his clear and sometimes brutal style found favor with viewers when reality contests were less crowded and streaming services were less common. This demonstrates how reality TV’s evolving dynamics are affecting viewer interest.


A Signature Judge

Simon Cowell was a sight to behold during the early seasons of American Idol. Contestants would crave his favor and try to get on his better side. Some contesting singers on the show would go as far as researching what genres he likes and perform those to get a positive review from him.

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Of all the judges that have come on American Idol, Cowell was the most difficult to please. It was commonplace for contestants to hold their breath and cross their fingers whenever he reviewed a performance. 


A Replacement of the Judges

When the American Idol show changed hands from Fox to ABC in 2016, there was an overhaul in the judges that presided over the reality show. Naturally, Simon Cowell was one of the first to go.

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Presently, American Idol has Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katty Perry as its presiding judges. These three have been steady on the show up until the recent coronation of King Charles III, during which Richie and Perry performed. The duo were excused from the show on that one occasion. 


The Ultimate Boycott and the Fallout

Due to Whoopi’s remarks, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan allegedly stopped watching The View. According to a report, these judges also decided not to go on The View or any other ABC program.

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The boycott is a prime example of how divisive Whoopi’s comments were and how her claims in the public eye may have unintended consequences.


Consequences of an Unintended Slip

Maybe everyone ought to cut Goldberg some slack after all. She did speak the truth, although at the wrong moment. If she had made those same comments with the producers and judges of American Idol listening, but off camera, then everyone might have had a good laugh. 

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However, it was bad publicity for the ABC Network and somehow downplayed the efforts of the current judges of the show under scrutiny.