Key defining moments from the Oprah Winfrey Show
With 25 years and close to 5000 episodes worth of footage to trawl through, it is a formidable task to pick only a handful of defining moments from The Oprah Winfrey Show, especially considering the impact that they have made. These key defining moments from the show were selected on the basis of the impact that they made on the audience, and in some cases, offered an insight into Oprah Winfrey as an efficient business woman with the power to influence people through her show. One of the earliest episodes on the show featured Oprah candidly sharing a common issue with most women; her struggle with weight. Dragging 67 pounds of animal fat on stage to demonstrate exactly how much weight she had lost, the episode became one of the show’s most watched, and laid the base for a number of other features on weight loss, keeping fit, eating disorders, and in true Oprah style, celebrity weight loss as well. Celebrities such as Kirstie Alley, Star Jones and others appeared on various episodes of the show to speak about their struggles with weight, and often broke down before being counseled by Oprah’s fitness trainer, Bob Greene. Some episodes even offered a follow up episode which chronicled the “before and after” effect of a particular fitness regime, weight loss surgery, and diet plan. Stacey Halprin, a guest on the show who weighed in at 550 pounds and begged Oprah for help, was interviewed in a recent episode of the show where she revealed that she had lost 360 pounds, and was on her way towards a healthy, happier life. Oprah was one of the first individuals to be granted access to an interview with Michael Jackson, where she visited his Neverland ranch and asked him questions about his life. The rumours and slander surrounding him were addressed, and Jackson, despite being an intensely private person, broke down and spoke at length about his troubled childhood, the pitfalls of stardom, and the cruel comments about his appearance and apparent fondness for children. The interview roped in over 100 million viewers, and is one of the most-watched videos of all time. Oprah went on to interview Jackson’s mother and children in 2010 after his death, where they shared memories of him and spoke about his life and hardships. A more recent interview with athlete Lance Armstrong drew 4.3 million viewers, and once again served as an example of her exceptional journalistic skills. Armstrong specifically chose to tell his story exclusively on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and confessed to taking performance-enhancing substances before his races. Oprah served as the representative of the public, asking questions, which demanded answers and expressing disappointment at his actions. Also significant was Oprah’s interview with then-Democratic hopeful Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Making her support for Obama evident, and even campaigning on his behalf is said to have raised over 1 million votes for the current US President, and future shows are in the pipeline which will feature both the Obamas and will highlight their anti-obesity initiative, “Lets Move!” There are innumerable episodes, which have served to tackle pressing, under reported issues, and others which have provided insight into celebrities in a manner not common to regular television chat shows. Oprah Winfrey is a journalist par excellence, and possesses an engaging style, which encourages people to open up about their lives. It is this aspect of her personality, juxtaposed with her willingness to open herself up to criticism by focusing on her own issues, which makes her appealing and audience-friendly. Among the many things, which can be learnt from her, is how to be honest, humble, and a good listener.