I don't know if Monica Lewinsky would ever make a good co-host on "The View." But I do know she already is somehow exactly the woman to capture this particularly peculiar moment we are having in popular culture. Welcome to spring of 2015, the time of catapulting women into the present directly from the nineties.
Lewinsky has spent much of the past year rolling out a very measured and necessarily self-deprecating return to the public eye. Last spring, after floundering unsuccessful runs as, briefly, a dating show host and handbag designer, she opened up in Vanity Fair about trying to forge a new path out of sharing her story -- a journey that at times filled her with "a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death." In March, she gave a TED Talk to speak out about the "marketplace where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry," and share a message that "Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: you can survive it." She's the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt of Internet scorn. And she seems of late to be preparing for some major new role – but what?
Then this week, an answer briefly seemed forthcoming when Deadline reported that Lewinsky had recently been invited to appear on "The View" and that, relatedly, the search for a replacement for departing co-host Rosie O'Donnell was still underway. The Daily Mail jumped on the tidbit, saying that "a network source" confided that Barbara Walters herself thinks Lewinsky would be "a runaway success" on the show. But last year, Walters told David Letterman, "I don’t think that’s what she wants." Speaking to the Daily News Wednesday, a representative for "The View" confirmed that "We invited Monica to be a guest to talk about her anti-bullying campaign. We would love to have her on the show," but Lewinsky's rep, the fabulously named Dini Von Mueffling, cryptically says, "Monica has been invited as guest several times in the past few years, but has not gone on. She is not trying out for a position as a host."
"The View" has been on increasingly shaky ground over the past few years, as changing co-hosts have coincided with sinking ratings. It's come a long way since its volatile heyday in the earlier part of the century, when you could count on the likes of Elisabeth Hasselbeck or Star Jones to mix it up. Last year, both Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy departed, with McCarthy pronouncing of her brief stint that "Maybe this is just a stepping stone for me to go somewhere where I can actually be my full self." Now the show is down to a skeleton core cast, and bringing in yawner guest co-hosts like Padma Lakshmi and Stacy London. "The View" needs a shakeup or to be put out of its misery. It needs somebody fresh and different -- and someone not afraid of controversy.
There likely aren't too many educated, intelligent American women in their early forties who seem to have reached their current point in life with almost zero practical career experience. It's pretty much just Monica and Sutton Foster's character on "Younger." Lewinsky's got to be aware it's time to get cracking figuring who she wants to be. Television personality might not be it. Lewinsky has yet to show she has things she truly wants to say around issues that don't relate to media and bullying and the way our culture treats women for their sexual choices, and if she's found her wheelhouse, great. But it'd be interesting to see how she'd fare in the strange realm of daytime lady shows, this woman who's been so pilloried and put down, who's had more experience with the modern female reality of being targeted and harassed than most. She may not be ready for her own talk show gig, but she definitely still has so much more to say.