Monday’s episode of The Talk was the show’s first in a month. It went dark in the wake of Sharon Osbourne’s on-air ranting defense of her friend Piers Morgan’s “freedom of speech” and insistence that she is not a racist. During the hiatus, CBS launched an internal investigation regarding Osbourne’s comments and Osbourne both apologized and doubled down on her stance (in the latter instance, she suggested that CBS “executives” devised her co-hosts’ questions during their on-air confrontation as a way of punishing her since CBS had broadcast the Meghan Markle/Oprah Winfrey interview, whose content Morgan had criticized). Also Osbourne left the show, pocketing a reported seven figures in the process.
Well, now The Talk is back sans Osbourne, so her co-hosts can discuss her behavior and its implications without having to compete with pyrotechnical Karen-ing. Sheryl Underwood, whom Osbourne howled at most severely during the March 10 episode, opened Monday’s show by labeling it “an episode of The Talk that will be unlike any other that we’ve had before.” She explained, “We need to process the events of that day and what happened since so we can get to the healing.” With the help of psychologist Dr. Donald E. Grant, processing is what the panel did.
Underwood explained her calm demeanor during Osbourne’s on-air fit, saying that she wanted to remain focused partly because she didn’t want to escalate an already fraught situation, but also because she felt a responsibility to avoid appearing to be what could be stereotypically be labeled an “angry Black woman.”
A particularly shocking moment on March 10 occurred when Osbourne told Underwood, “Don’t try and cry, ‘cause if anyone should be cryin’ it should be me.” Underwood explained that tearing up had to do with suppressing her emotions. “I’m not tearing up ‘cause you hurt me, or ‘cause I want some sympathy,” she recalled. “I’m tearing up ‘cause I had to restrain that because if I would have responded then I would have been the angry Black woman. And I think I’m talking to my friend, somebody I can trust.”
Co-host Elaine Welteroth seemed to shoot down Osbourne’s assertion that her co-hosts had been put up to taking her down by the powers that be at CBS, though Welteroth did so with vagueness. “Why would you believe that we were attacking her?” she said. “There was nothing on my cards that was preparing me. There have been a lot of false narratives that have been spun in the media that framed both Sheryl and myself as co-conspirators in attacking someone. And I just wanna take this opportunity to say that is absolutely, categorically false and unfair.”
Underwood said the March 10 episode left her feeling like she had PTSD. “It was trauma,” she explained.
If you can believe it, Osbourne refused to quit while she was behind during The Talk’s hiatus. On her podcast, Underwood claimed that Osbourne never reached out to apologize and in response, Osbourne shared with the Daily Mail a string of unreciprocated text messages she had sent to Underwood in which she did apologize. Underwood confirmed the existence of the text messages and attempted to clear up the discrepancy on Monday’s episode:
“I have not spoken to and do not have any phone call missed or received that I can find in my phone,” said Underwood. “But there were text messages sent to me. The reason that I did not speak about or acknowledge or even respond to those text messages [is] because they were coming to me during the internal investigation. And I’ve never been through anything like this so I didn’t know if you were supposed to communicate or not communicate while there was an internal investigation.”
“I want to be clear on this: I have not spoken to Sharon,” she continued. “I have not had a phone call from her and my fear of answering something [is] because something pops up in the media that’s misunderstood. And people have asked me if you see Sharon what would you do. First of all, if she greeted me warmly and sincerely, I would give her the same because we’ve been on this show together for 10 years. I want people to understand when you’re friends with somebody, you stay friends. What Maya Angelou say? When people show you who they are, believe them. That’s real talk.”
The entire episode was devoted to Osbourne and the issues that she had rustled up. The panel discussed the covert nature of racism, antiracism, and unconscious bias, among topics. Welteroth illustrated why Morgan’s rejection of Markle’s story was so offensive to so many: “I think when you deny a woman or woman of color their truth and their experiences, you’re not just denying them you’re denying every woman and woman of color who sees themself in this person’s story.” In all, the panel handled this subject matter with sensitivity, specificity, and class, providing the perfect foil to Osbourne’s extreme on-air display.