Stop. Watch. Listen
Jada Pinkett Smith's 'Red Table Talk' is an endearingly honest watch
The celebrity chats candidly with her mother and daughter about everything from self-harm to sex on this refreshing Facebook talk show
AT A GLANCE:
WHAT: Red Table Talk, a candid talk show.
WHO: Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
WHY CARE: Celebrities, they're just like us (only richer and with better makeup).
WHERE TO FIND IT: facebook.com/redtabletalk
If you're a cynical person who hates saccharine television or anything Oprah-esque, look away now. Red Table Talk, actor Jada Pinkett Smith's new talk show, is not for you. But if you love laughing as much as you love crying, if you enjoy 'aha' moments and watching beautiful (and rich) people pouring their hearts out to show us that yes, they too are human, then you'd better tune in.
The talk show is informal - no studio audience or any of those weird lights talk shows use — and, as Smith has described it, is meant to feel "organic" (i.e. not forced in any way).
The show features Smith at a red table (hence the title) with her 64-year-old mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her 17-year-old daughter Willow Smith. The three generations of women talk candidly about everything from motherhood and marriage to self-harm and sex, while Pinkett Smith also chats with other guests (from hubby Will Smith's ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, to actor/ memoirist Gabrielle Union).
There are also 'Ask Live' featurettes that are more viewer-involved discussions exploring topics covered in previous episodes.
Mainly filmed in Pinkett Smith's California home, Red Table Talk continues the newish trend of celebs inviting us into their homes for talk shows or specials (Khloe Kardashian's short-lived Kocktails with Khloe — which I'm not ashamed to admit I really enjoyed — immediately comes to mind).
The show (available on Facebook Watch, the social media giant's video on demand service) definitely doesn't feel forced at all — and this is both its strength and its weakness. The informal setting and the clear lack of script make it feel more sincere (very important for a talk show) but it also means episodes sometimes feel as though they could have been fleshed out a bit better.
The fact that such a show has a celeb name attached to it is great, but it's also a drawback because it means that no one is reining in their celebrity host (a little bit more direction would make this show even better).
As enjoyable as each episode is and as inspiring as the honesty is (the episode where Willow reveals to her grandmother and mother that she used to cut herself is incredible to watch), sometimes it feels like we're just watching celebrities talk about themselves, yet again.
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It's definitely not on the level of The Tyra Banks Show because it doesn't pretend to be about other people while it's actually about its celebrity host. Red Table Talk is about the lived experience of Pinkett Smith and her family, as well as her guests. And while I guess the viewer is supposed to glean some lessons or find things to relate to in each episode, it sometimes still feels a bit like voyeurism disguised as depth.
I'll still be tuning in for those new episodes though, because despite my misgivings, the show is endearingly honest and a refreshing watch.