Daytime television feels like a fever dream. Watching a network program? During its scheduled time? With commercials?? For what reason?! I’ve never watched The Kelly Clarkson Show in its natural habitat — weekdays at 3 p.m. central on NBC. But every time a clip makes its way to my Twitter feed, I am delighted.
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen Anne Hathaway singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” in front of Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show. Annie’s been continuing those Les Miz vocal lessons, I see! As she belts the chorus, Clarkson falls to the floor. To see the princess of Genovia wholeheartedly doing Kelly Clarkson karaoke? This is art. This is culture. This is the golden age of television, baby! However, in my opinion, that’s not even the most notable part of Hathaway’s appearance.
During her interview, Anne Hathaway shows Kelly Clarkson how to eat a cupcake. What an incredible sentence for me to type and for you to read. A show producer brings out a couple cupcakes for Hathaway’s demonstration, and she grabs a sprinkle cupcake because, she says, she’s in a “rainbow mood.” Then, Hathaway quietly adds, “We should all keep saying ‘gay’ in Florida.” Only on daytime TV, folks!
Hathaway’s cupcake “hack” is probably the one you’re thinking of, where you eat the cupcake like a little sandwich. However, it becomes something else entirely when you watch two famous women on a nationally syndicated program eating a cupcake like a sandwich while talking about how smart it is to eat a cupcake like a sandwich. This is par for the course on The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Clarkson’s daytime talk show is the reason we know Neve Campbell was once attacked by a bear on a movie set. It’s where Vin Diesel said he thinks Paul Walker’s ghost sent John Cena to take part in F9. Here’s a clip where Clarkson spends 15 minutes filling out an NCAA bracket. (She picks Auburn to win it all because her mom has auburn-colored hair.) The show, of course, also has a lot of singing. Clarkson sings her own songs. She sings classic country songs. She even sings songs by the Black Eyed Peas. In one episode, guest Regina Hall asks, “Can we sing a note?” and then she and Brittany Snow proceed to timidly sing a verse of “Amazing Grace” with Grammy-winning recording artist Kelly Clarkson.
When Clarkson plays games with celebrity guests, those games are often hosted by God for reasons I do not know nor do I wish to find out. There does seem to be at least one moment during most episodes — be it an appearance by Jeff Dunham or a soldier surprising his family — that makes you say, “Is something … Republican happening right now?” However, those are overshadowed by moments that bind us all regardless of political affiliation, like Jason Derulo showing Clarkson and Nicole Byer how to act like a cat.
The Kelly Clarkson Show feels like a 2010s YouTube channel meets a friend of a friend’s birthday party meets a youth church-group retreat. It’s endearing or at least endearingly awkward, sometimes overly sincere, well-meaning though toothless. Kelly Clarkson would never jump-scare her guests like Ellen. Unlike The View, Clarkson seems to actively avoid politics (she redirected the conversation after Hathaway’s “keep saying ‘gay’ in Florida” comment). Where Jimmy Fallon’s enthusiasm often reads as performative and Drew Barrymore’s show feels very much about her (e.g., “Drew Gets Emotional During Intimate Tour of LA Including Institution Where She Stayed”), The Kelly Clarkson Show is just … Kelly Clarkson having fun and polite conversation with celebrities. In every interview, she seems genuinely excited to talk to famous people, turning to the audience to say something to the effect of, “Oh my God, y’all. Can you believe I’m hanging out with Ariana Grande?” As if she herself hasn’t been in the spotlight for the last two decades. To quote Ariana herself: What are you talking about, KELLY CLARKSON?
The show can be boiled down to four tenets: Be yourself, have a good time, eat snacks, and sing a little karaoke, which is all my brain can really handle right now. Thanks to U, The Kelly Clarkson Show, now I get what I want. (Celebrities singing karaoke and crawling like cats.)