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Oprah Watch

By Ali Trachta in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 3, 2008 6:00PM

2008_10_03oprahwatch1.jpgOprah brought out the big guns early again this week as Monday’s show tackled the little known epidemic of heroin addiction in middle America. A rural Ohio family joined Oprah and Lisa Ling via satellite: a mother, father and two teenage boys all addicted to the drug. Once a six-figure family, now without a home, without jobs, and with no possessions left to sell to pay for their habit, this family appeared a muted, glazed-over version of their former selves. The story of Merry, a pregnant, heroin-addicted woman from the same community who feared detox would cause her to lose her baby made this exposé all the more despairing. Thankfully Oprah, like Jesus, is never one to turn away the destitute, and arranged for all five guests to have stints at in-patient rehab facilities free of charge. Hopefully a follow-up show with this group will provide the much-needed ray of hope that never came in this hour.

2008_10_03oprahwatch2.jpgThis Tuesday, Christina Applegate was the Raggedy Anne to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Barbie Doll from Oprah Week Two. Instead of gloating about her near-perfect body, Christina gave grace to the imperfection, telling the story of her decision to have a double mastectomy after her breast cancer diagnosis. With an audience full of survivors decked out in pink, Oprah used the remainder of the show to educate women on everything from early detection to the latest treatments. Later Oprah welcomed Illinois native Nancy Brinker, sister of Susan G. Komen, whose organization has raised more than one billion dollars for breast cancer research since 1982. Doctors, Skypers, and everyday women fighting cancer joined the circle, and even though the show became even more of an estrogen-stravaganza than normal, it was an Oprah perfect storm of inspirational, educational and empowering.

Wednesday kept rolling with the heavy-hearted stories. Oprah welcomed Brenda Slaby, the mother who made headlines last year for mistakenly leaving her baby in the car for eight hours which ultimately killed her. Having broken her routine that morning, Brenda found herself on the road to work, and upon arrival, she absent-mindedly wandered away from the car and into her typical workday, forgetting her child was still inside. The knee-jerk reaction, just as it was a year ago, was to gawk at her and spit out judgement. But Oprah, never the exploiter, used the story to encourage parents and busy people everywhere to slooooow dooooown. Anonymous callers and Skypers alike echoed the sentiment that life can rapidly become too much, and even simple oversights can have grave results. Thankfully Oprah’s new resident Zen teacher, Norman Fischer, joined up to teach us a few things about relaxation and centering ourselves.

Ok Oprah, it’s been a tough week. Can we get a giggle?

2008_10_03oprahwatch3.jpgThank goodness. The cast of upcoming movie The Secret Life of Bees lit up the Oprah stage on Thursday. And what a group it was: Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Grammy superstar Alicia Keyes, hometown girl Jennifer Hudson and still cute-as-a-button Dakota Fanning. The ladies rotated through interviews in an hour-long fierce girlfest. Alicia had splotches of gold eyeshadow in her tear ducts the entire time which was pretty annoying, but she made up for it with a spine-tingling performance of her song "Superwoman." Also, some hometown gossip: Jennifer is now engaged to “Real” from I Love New York. Really? What does A List + D List add up to?

Friday is another random “if you’re talking about it so are we” live show, but Oprah was a little more specific this time. We’ll be rapping about the VP debate and the financial crisis, and Suze Orman will be back to give us some more money tips. Brace yourselves for Suze “death glare.”