During the early years of The Wendy Williams Show, drag queen Erickatoure Aviance was told by producers that he couldn’t sit in the studio audience, prompting backlash. Wendy Williams has also called Caitlyn Jenner a man. In 2014, she said that Chaz Bono “is a man now, but I bet she still fights like a girl,” explaining to her audience that transgender women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in women’s sports. She later apologized when fans questioned her various homophobic and transphobic comments, just last year popping up at Pride in a rainbow jumpsuit.
Then, as is common for Williams, she directed another series of gender-essentialist comments to the men in her studio audience. On Thursday’s episode, she launched into a monologue asking men to stop wearing women’s skirts and heels, asserting that people who don’t menstruate won’t understand what women go through. These comments swiftly disseminated online, with people remarking on the blatant transphobia. Williams, who calls her studio audience her “co-hosts,” swiftly addressed the backlash in a YouTube video this morning, simply titled: “A Message From Wendy.”
She begins with an incredibly Real Housewives apology—“I’m sorry I made you feel that way!”—before launching into an explanation of how she, and anyone “who’s known me long enough,” understand her to be. Specifically: “Bon vivant!” From what I understand, a bon vivant is a person who loves surrounding themselves with parties and luxury. Williams, who admits she “doesn’t even know what [it] means,” defines it as someone who “lives and let lives.” Sure! But to Williams’s credit, I do believe that she is genuinely sorry for upsetting her fans and co-hosts. The tears she sheds are certainly real, as are the ponderous reflections on her life and legacy and many, many controversies.
By next week, she will have definitely moved on, as will the rest of her audience. That is, until the next time Caitlyn Jenner is in the news, or she’s distracted by the sequins on somebody’s jacket.