For too many years, probably — long after Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe divorced, I watched the Academy Awards with my dad. Even as a child, I understood that the show served up the same telegenic treats each year. Some ingénue took home a trophy. Leonardo DiCaprio smiled, conceding defeat. And whenever a gruff leading man thanked his mom, my father and I sobbed on cue.
Eventually, I outgrew the charade, preferring the snark of Twitter commentary to live viewership and Billy Crystal. My dad forgave the desertion. But even once I could no longer stomach banal acceptance speeches and a buffet of fake smiles, I often found myself — by accident! Just channel surfing! — wandering over to E! the night after the broadcast.
On those fateful Monday evenings, the network would screen a new installment of Fashion Police. Joan Rivers would materialize on screen, unleashing a personal brand of brilliant and vitriolic commentary that no one since has managed. Decked out in the kind of spiky, oversize brooches that could have doubled as lethal weaponry, Rivers incited mortal terror in celebrities and stylists and kindergarten teachers alike. Protected as I was from her wrath in the privacy of my own home, I couldn’t look away.
Rivers died last September, and Fashion Police has been dimmer — not only bleaker, but also markedly less intelligent — for her absence. After the Academy Awards this year, Giuliana Rancic insulted Zendaya in her misguided evaluation of the singer’s dreadlocks. Offering up her own retort to the questionable comments, Kelly Osbourne left the show shortly thereafter. And last week, new addition Kathy Griffin stepped down too, contending that she would not “contribute to a culture of unattainable perfectionism.”
As Rivers herself might have said — only using more profanity, the show needs a makeover. Earlier this week, the network pronounced its intentions to give it one.
In a statement released on Tuesday, E! announced the news, stating:
E!’s comedy series “Fashion Police” is going on hiatus and will return in September. We look forward to taking this opportunity to refresh the show before the next awards season. Our talented co-hosts Giuliana Rancic and Brad Goreski, along with Executive Producer Melissa Rivers, will continue their roles as we evolve the show into its next chapter for the legions of “Fashion Police” fans around the world.
Viewers are entitled to their own opinions about whether or not Rancic deserves to stay. But there are bigger questions than her future employment at stake here. Assuming the show does return, what changes should be made to it? What does good and funny and smart fashion criticism look like? Is the very idea that style needs to be policed an outdated concept? Are red carpets beyond salvation? And given the opportunity, what kind of violence would you exact on the Mani Cam? Wrecking ball? Dynamite? Chainsaw? I say nitrogen bomb, but that’s a personal preference.
Let’s talk about it.