I was prepared to hate Raising McCain, the new Megan McCain talk show airing soon on the new cable channel Pivot. In its promo, McCain promises to tackle feminism, romance, privacy, and "what the average fucking American can do to help."
The marriage of Pivot (self-described as catering to "passionate Millennials 18-34") and McCain makes sense. Before watching this show, I thought McCain wanted to be the young, female voice of the Republican party. But it's clear afterward that she'd like to be the conservative, female voice of the Millennial generation. There's the cussing, which doesn't bother me but does feel self-conscious and inauthentic, the linguistic equivalent of Miley Cyrus' grill. There's talk of drunk tweeting. The best way to describe Raising McCain is probably that it feels just like it was made by MTV.
In the first episode, McCain borrows clothes from Clerks-era Jay and Silent Bob and interviews journalist Michael Moynihan, cultural news editor of The Daily Beast. After saying that she "doesn't think privacy exists anymore" and doesn't really care, she spends the next 25 minutes talking to people about privacy and engaging in a competition with Moynihan to see who can dig up more dirt about the other online.
More notable than the show's content is its semi-meta format. Interviews with privacy experts and revenge porn victims are juxtaposed with shots of McCain hanging a deer head on the studio walls and discussing segment ideas with producers. The sound-guy pops out of the backseat suddenly in what previously seemed to be a car ride with just McCain and Moynihan. Every transition involves a gratuitous shot of lighting or the camera guy. Moynihan drinks throughout the entire show. It gives the whole thing a very reality TV feeling, like McCain is a character on The Hills or Real World who's been given a job as a 'talk show host."
Still, the show does manage to get across some important information about online privacy, data-mining and surveillance. And it does so in a relatively entertaining way. Framed as 'how-much-should-I-share-on-Twitter?' and an e-snooping competition between McCain and Moynihan, it could plausibly hook people who normally wouldn't watch a program about data mining and surveillance.
The Atlantic's Allie Jones writes that "all those f-words might make McCain's show feel uncensored, but they do not make it deep." This is true. But I don't think the show's aiming particularly deep. This is not a show for policy wonks, or some sort of hard-hitting political program. It's not for current events aficionados, journalists, or probably any daily consumers of online news, blogs and social media.
In an interview with Politico, McCain said she wasn't a good pundit and the majority of her 20s were spent "having people like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham say nasty, personally hateful things about me, about my body, about my personal life."
"I just got to a point where I’d like to do something that’s a little different and I’ve never been happier," McCain said.
Let's give the girl some space? We need more female-hosted currents-events shows in general and for every Rachael Maddow fan there's someone who really, really liked Lauren Conrad. Let's all learn about surveillance issues! There's no harm in shows that appeal to different audiences.
You can watch the first episode of Raising McCain right below:
Image: Screenshot from first episode of Raising McCain