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Absolutely everybody must know by know that Oprah has her own cable TV network. OWN launched on January 1, to great fanfare, interest, and speculation about its possibilities for success.
Over the last decade especially, Oprah has become a guru of all sorts of ideals: healthy-mindedness, philanthropy, new age spirituality, and her TV network has a particular ethic as well: no mean-spiritedness allowed.
In The New York Times this week, Alessandra Stanley reported the following in her article, “The TV Watch: A No Cynicism Zone on Oprah’s Network” about Oprah’s TV ethic:
“Oprah Winfrey said that she wanted to create a cable network without a trace of “mean-spirited” programming, and she has wrung every drop of it from the Oprah Winfrey Network. The unveiling of her 24-hour cable network, OWN, which began at noon on New Year’s Day, was most striking for what it lacked: nowhere in that opening gush of feel-good highlight reels, self-improvement plans, spiritual quests, aha! moments, celebrity master classes, and people finding their truths and living their own best lives was there a snicker of malice or a hint of raillery.”
In the days of nasty, lowest-common-denominator, reality television, the attempt is admirable in my opinion. Whether or not it is possible to maintain such a criteria in the long-term however, is up for debate. What do you think of Oprah’s plan? Do you think it’s even realistic? Does it make you more inclined to watch or less?
Stanley writes that “OWN is a place where cynicism takes a holiday and mockery hasn’t yet been invented.” If only that fantasy holds up as 2011 marches forward.

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