In response to the rather loud backlash Drew Barrymore received for her decision to bring her struck talk show back to air in the midst of the WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes, the actor/people-pleaser posted onto her Instagram on Friday what is both the best and worst celebrity apology in recent memory.
It’s the best because it’s so Drew: an absolute flurry of emotions and a real grab bag of words and phrases all delivered with an earnestness (or the projection of it) that’s almost as hard to look at as the sun. It’s the worst because she’s not actually sorry for bringing her show back to the air. If she were, the only adequate apology would be to cease scabbing and discontinue filming/airing new episodes until the strikes are over. She’s not doing that, ergo she’s not sorry.
But, if you can get over your anger at this tacit request to be forgiven in the absence of a real apology (this is a “stop being mad at me” video), it’s a pretty fun watch. Barrymore begins where others would have ended: “I believe there’s nothing I can do or say in this moment to make it OK.” But instead of surrendering and turning off the camera, Barrymore uses that as a warm-up for a four-minute, ellipses-dependent monologue (which really, if you’re an actor, you should consider using for an audition—when the strikes are over, of course).
“I wanted to own a decision so that it wasn’t a PR-protected situation and I would take full responsibility for my actions,” says Barrymore, already straining the English language by stringing words together somewhat haphazardly. (I mean, at least she’s not rattling off a script like some other recently apologizing actors seemed to be doing.)
“There are so many reasons why this is so complex and I just want everyone to know my intentions have never been in a place to upset or hurt anyone. That’s not who I am,” says Barrymore. She starts tearing up (or maybe let’s say presenting what tearing up seems like) and smiling at the same time when she says, “I’ve been through so many ups and downs in my life, and this is one of them.” A smile and a frown to note that this is truly an up and a down. Perfect.
“I deeply apologize to writers, I deeply apologize to unions, I deeply apologize...” she says and trails off. It’s important to note that Barrymore keeps both looking up and to the right of the camera to address us, and also down and to the left, perhaps at a bunch of notes. So while the whole thing does feel extremely slapped together, there’s also seemingly some kind of structure to it. Scattered and planned, Barrymore is a real disheveled icon. “And, no, I don’t have a PR machine behind this,” she goes on to explain needlessly. “I won’t polish this with bells and whistles and publicists and corporate rhetoric. I’ll just stand out there and accept and be responsible.”
That constitutes nearly two-and-a-half minutes of throat clearing before Barrymore gets to “the huge question of why—why am I doing this?” I’ve watched this video twice now and it’s still unclear to me.
She says, “This is bigger than me, and there are other people’s jobs on the line.” OK, so that much was clear and predictable. She explains that she launched her show live during the pandemic (those were the days!), during which, “I just wanted to make a show that was there for people in sensitive times. And I weighed the scales and I thought, ‘If we could go on during a global pandemic, and everything that the world has experienced through 2020, why would this sideline us?’” Ah yes, the old covid excuse. Usually that gets us out of obligations, but I guess viruses know no bounds.
And then Barrymore gives us truly her greatest word salad yet—the ambrosia of word salads, even: “So, I want to just put one foot in front of the other and make a show that’s there for people regardless of anything else that’s happening in the world because that’s when I think we all need something that wants to be there being very realistic in very realistic times. So that is my why.”
Well, Drew, thanks for everything, which is to say nothing.