We need to talk about The Wendy Williams Show. More specifically, Priyanka Chopra’s interview with Wendy Williams which aired this past week. Regardless of the sex of the interviewer, questions directed at female guests are often sexist and centre around stereotypically feminine topics such as fashion, hairstyles, and dating, and tends to stay away from content regarding their actual achievements.
The Wendy Williams Show is your average talk show: celebrity interviews, beauty advice, gossip, etc. Recently, she had Priyanka Chopra on her program as she was promoting her new movie Baywatch. But instead of asking Priyanka about the movie or her other achievements (she got her start as a Bollywood actress, has starred in 50+ Bollywood films, and continues to act in India after having made it in Hollywood), Wendy grills her on fashion, dating, and the love life of her friend, Meghan Markle. The movie was not mentioned until the last two minutes of the interview.
I know that this is a typical avenue for talk shows to take but what makes it more concerning is that Wendy was being entirely anti-feminist.* She spent the majority of the interview talking about Priyanka’s attendance at this year’s Met Gala. The conversation was originally centred around the dress and hairstyle Priyanka chose for that night (which is kind of blah in itself), but quickly turned into badgering due to her single status at the event, with Wendy blatantly asking “Where’s your date?” as if it were a necessary accessory. She tries to minimize the aggressiveness of her statement by adding “just asking” at the end. Priyanka gracefully stated that she doesn’t need a boyfriend, or even a date, to enjoy those events, and further that she isn’t really looking to date at all. In order to move the conversation along, Wendy suddenly agrees with the narrative that a date is not a requirement for red carpet attendance, completely negating the inferences of the previous question.
When asked about Meghan Markle, Priyanka was quick to point out that Meghan is her own person with separate and worthy achievements, aside from who she’s dating. When asked about Meghan’s love life, Priyanka didn’t have much to say and she shouldn’t. It’s not for her to tell, and she respects Meghan enough not to say too much. Wendy, on the other hand, continued to push questions about Meghan. It is one thing to ask women questions that would never be asked of a man (like what designer they’re wearing, etc.), but it’s another not to accept the answers as given, to push farther until you get the desired answer.
Additionally, when asked her opinion of Meghan’s relationship, and whether she thinks the pair might get married, Priyanka didn’t have much to say. I’m aware that it seems to be how society works, but asking women’s opinions on the lives of other women is gross. It’s a recipe for disaster with a singular goal: to create tension. We love to pit women against each other, but why? To promote a feeling in women that we are never good enough; we need to be like that girl, have shinier hair than her, a cuter partner, or be thinner. It is high time that we stop comparing ourselves to each other. We’re all cute, smart, hard-working, etc. and we as women need to build each other up, not comparing achievements, or tearing each other down. Take the first step and tell the women in your life that you’re proud of them.
To see the full interview, click here.
*I am aware that it is unlikely that Wendy comes up with all her own questions, etc., and there are producers who steer the show’s direction.