To use the friend analogy: The Real is that friend you'd rather ignore who ends up being sort of entertaining. You're more than likely to wince through a full episode. It's as "not great" as it is "not awful." And the majority of the reactions I've seen have been tepid or apathetic at best. Which is why it's so surprising (and good) that the show's ratings are reportedly beating out Meredith Viera.

What initially drew me into The Real was the diversity of its hosts in race/age/perspective — Tamera Mowry-Housley, Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon and Jeannie Mai. While the show clearly needs work execution wise, I'm glad there's something on daytime TV that reflects my social circle. As it turns out, the show is performing where it matters most to advertisers: with women and young people.

The Hollywood Reporter writes:

The Real is looking like the real thing. The Warner Bros. talk show featuring five ethnically diverse women has blasted out of the gate with a 0.7 rating among women 25-to-54 (the key daytime demo). That's is as good as or better than all of the half-dozen new entrants, including Meredith Vieira's talk show.

The Real also is attracting a younger audience than its new rivals: Viewers' average age is 45 (compared with 61 for NBC's Meredith), younger than for any of the top 10 syndicated talk shows.

These women are extremely unpolished when it comes to daytime television (and interview follow-up questions and chemistry with guests). Expectedly, that learning curve cuts into its quality, but The Wendy Williams Show and Jimmy Fallon also started off rocky before smoothing out. I'm hoping better execution will come. Since gelling takes time and experience, I've withheld judgment.

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My friend Michael described it to me as: "Great casting, a smart idea, and while sometimes cringe-worthy (Tamar), actually a very well done daytime talk show. It's like a younger, intoxicated version of The View." Another friend who's 26 calls it "very Gen Now."

THR clarifies that Meredith Viera is still winning in total household numbers. But the fact that The Real is beating out a talk show veteran in one crucial ratings area means they're connecting with viewers consistently:

While The Real's total household numbers are lower than Meredith's (1.0 vs 1.2), what matters to ad buyers is its strength in women 18-to-34, 18-to-49 and 25-to-54.

In females 18-to-34, as of Oct. 10, The Real had a rating of 0.7, compared with 0.3 for Meredith. In females 18-to-49, The Real again scored a 0.7, compared with 0.4 for Meredith.

And The Real is working even though it airs on independent or B-level stations in much of the country. While Meredith runs on strong network affiliates in 87 percent of major markets (anchored on the NBC stations), The Real is on network affiliates in only 12 percent of big markets. (However, that includes Fox stations in the largest cities.)