Saying goodbye to 'The Soup'
On December 18th of this year, The Soup, which has aired in one form or another on the E! Network since 1991, will show it’s last clip. Because the cult favorite TV clip show has been a huge part of my pop culture life, I’m learning what Boyz II Men was singing about in “It’s so hard to say Goodbye.” Here’s a little letter to one of my favorite 30 minutes of comedy.
Dear The Soup,
I know you are leaving me and it’s just not okay. Breakups were never really my strong suit and I have a tendency to not let go and make things awkward….even when it’s a TV show and not an actual human person leaving me behind. This is me making things awkward.
When I was a preteen, my cable provider picked up E! and immediately I fell under the spell of Greg Kinnear and a little show called Talk Soup. My television addiction was being validated with every clip of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer that was mocked on the airwaves. Finally my love/hate relationship with the trashiest of talk shows was being expressed. The weekly episodes were my SportsCenter…if the sports in question were paternity tests and ambush makeovers. For once I wasn’t being judged, but being catered to. They got it, and finally someone else (Greg Kinnear) was in on the joke.
Then in 1995, Greg Kinnear abdicated his soup bowl backdrop and went on to be an Oscar nominee or something (Ugh! The nerve of some people!). In the transition, I got worried my love for the 30-minute unscripted series would wane. It didn’t. With each new host, I remained a fan- John Henson, Hal Sparks, Aisha Tyler…I watched them all. Each week when digesting particularly cringe-worthy moments on Jenny Jones or The View, I would even think “AGHH! Talk Soup is gonna have a field day with this?” I remember making bets what might be the clip of the week.
Then Joel McHale arrived in 2004 and to include the fodder-rich world of reality TV (and even some episodes of One Tree Hill!), E! rebranded the show as The Soup! If I have learned one thing from the classic film 13 Going on 30, it’s “Redesign is a death sentence!” Little did I know that McHale’s particular brand of sarcasm was about to make him my favorite host of all. This revamp wasn’t a death sentence, but a renaissance. He was just the host to tackle the crazy hijinks on the horizon courtesy of shows like Flavor of Love, Rupaul’s Drag Race and all things Kardashian.
I’ll miss Tales From Home Shopping (a personal favorite), Chat Stew (So meaty!), ridiculous celebrity cameos and even sightings of Mankini, a staffer who inexplicably wore a bikini top 24/7. Without your soupy goodness, there would be no Web Soup, @midnight, Best Week Ever or even Tosh.0 . You created the clip show genre, and for that you have my infinite respect and admiration.
I know…I know. Joel McHale will still be prowling around the E! network as exec producer of The Comments Section, a sort of Soup spinoff targeting the trolliest of internet/social media trolls, and his acting career will surely explode, but it will never be the same. I’ll miss the pop culture microscope that is The Soup. Please just promise me nothing will happen to Spaghetti cat or Lou the Chihuahua.