The Rachel Maddow Show - Early Impressions
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The L.A. Times reports that Rachel Maddow's new show is performing extremely well in the ratings. First things first - good for you, Rachel Maddow.

I've watched the show several days a week now since it began airing. Overall, I'm very impressed with the show. She has many of the same comments and topics as Keith Olbermann, but without all the snark that I'm sure turns a lot of people off of him. Even my mother, who isn't the type who would enjoy Olbermann, commented, "You know... I realy like this girl!" when watching the show at my house. Still, it's a relatively young show and there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Here are some of the things I think the show needs to work on:

1) Find your own identity. While she has some notable differences from Olbermann, watching the two shows back-to-back feels a bit repetitive after awhile. Maddow needs to work on being more than just "Keith Olbermann Lite! Now with 50% less snark and with 100% more lady parts!". She started at least 2 different shows with Olbermann as her intro guest, which certainly doesn't help.

2) More balance. Yes, it's nice to have someone who isn't afraid to take a position (particularly since I agree with her 95% of the time). On the other hand, unlike people who watch Fox News, I'm not interested in a show that's just an echo chamber of my own views. I give her props for bringing on Pat Buchanan to argue points with her, but he's a bit of a shouter, and doesn't do a good job articulating his views. I'd like to see more neutral or conservative guests who aren't stark raving lunatics.

3) Wider range of guests. I know part of this is due to the fact that the show is very young and people were probably waiting to see how "legit" it was going to be, but a large chunk of guests have been drawn from within the NBC/MSNBC family (of course, MSNBC hosts the show, which I'm sure you all know). It sort of feels like they just run around the studio looking for commentators working on other NBC shows in order to fill interview/guest slots. I'd also like to see guests appear in person more often, if possible, since it's sort of weird seeing her sit in this big old set at her big old desk, talking to a screen.

4) From her interview at, Maddow has said this about her outfit choice:
“I feel like in terms of what I look like, I’m working in a very visual medium for the first time in my life, and I’m just sort of trying to get by in terms of the basic, the minimum that I need to do visually in order to be allowed to be on television,” she says. “And so I put on the suit, so that I can go on TV. I let the makeup ladies put makeup on me, which they do to their own satisfaction. I don’t pay much attention to it.”
Now, I get that. I hate dressing up too. I think Maddow is adorably butch-lite in her general appearance. However, I have a personal aversion to the "scoop-neck shirt under a blazer" look that she has worn EVERY SINGLE TIME now. Rachel, you are an attractive and handsome lady. And everyone knows attractive and handsome ladies look best when rocking a collared shirt under their blazer. Those funky little low necked shirts just make it look like you aren't wearing anything underneath your jacket at all. And since my opinion is clearly so important to you, I'm sure you'll get right on fixing that.

In all seriousness, I do want to end on a positive note. I really like the show and it's quickly becoming Must See TV for me. A lot of these problems are due in part to how young the show is. As she continues to get good ratings, hopefully more guests will be willing to come on. I'd like to someday see a major politician sit down on the show for an in-depth chat.

MSNBC airs this show like 4 times a day, so there's no excuse for you not to watch it. Tune in - you will probably like what you see.
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On 11:16 AM , Carrie said...

FINALLY, a non-football post. We were clamoring in la maison Willingham.

Why do you think Pat Buchanan is a "lunatic"? Rachel seems to like him a lot.

On 2:49 PM , Mad Typist said...

I love her weird "liberal niece/crazy conservative uncle" thing she's got going with Pat. My complaint about Pat is that he yells his points and sticks to extremely far right points that don't sell to anyone remotely moderate in nature.

There are plenty of valid points to be made by that side of the aisle, so I'd like someone who has not said about women: "Rail as they will about 'discrimination,' women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism."

On 11:08 PM , MindFire ε said...

I have always thought it looks like she isn't wearing anything but a blazer. The lack of any kind of neck adornments or jewelery only emphasizes her "naked" appearance. Needless to say, I enjoy this show.