This week on the Reheat – What Is Wendy Williams’ Legacy?

Hello, and welcome to The Reheat! Each week, I write a column summarizing the highlights of the podcast I co-host with Sadaf Ahsan. Our podcast, also titled The Reheat (what a coincidence!), re-examines the most salacious scandals of yester-year through a contemporary lens. Whether it’s a deep dive into Bennifer’s original love story from the 2000s or a meditation on the time princess Anne was almost kidnapped, we explain why each saga captured our imaginations back in the day. Sadaf and I also ask, would these stories be as scandalous if they happened in 2021? The answers to that question might surprise you!

Whenever we release a new episode, I share some of the juiciest tidbits right here, for Addicted Magazine’s lovely readers. Obviously, we hope these columns tantalize you enough to listen to our podcast. That’s where you’ll learn the fascinating details I don’t share here…

This week’s column is devoted to the successful, sometimes controversial, always topical career of daytime TV legend Wendy Williams. Recently, we learned the star would leave her eponymous talk show after thirteen seasons. And while fans were sad, the announcement wasn’t a surprise…

In recent years, Wendy has experienced considerable health struggles: In 2019, the icon announced she was spending some time living in a sober house to address her substance use disorder. And in 2021, the season premiere of The Wendy Williams Show was delayed when the host tested positive for COVID; however, the premiere continued to get pushed back until it was eventually announced Wendy would never return to her show. Instead, she seemed to be living as a shut-in, confined to a luxe NYC apartment. The mysterious development caused many fans – and the media – to speculate about what was actually wrong with Wendy’s health.

It’s still unclear why Wendy had to leave her long-running show. Nonetheless, we at The Reheat wish her a full recovery! But the end of her tenyear as a daytime diva has made our team ponder what Wendy’s legacy will be. To that end, here’s a list of some memorable facts about the icon.

         Wendy Williams Started Out As a Shock Jock

Wendy Williams began her career as a New York radio Shock Jock. In fact, she counts Howard Stern as one of her role models! The DNA of Wendy’s career origins were definitely present on her show, where she was famous (and infamous) for saying whatever she wanted. Whether ordering people to leave their no-good boyfriends or detailing which Real Housewives she most loathed, Wendy wasn’t into self-censorship!

                 Wendy’s Husband Kevin Was Bad News

When Wendy Williams married Kevin Hunter in 1999, she was besotted. Wendy respected Kevin so much she installed him as an executive producer when she founded Wendy Williams Productions. Kevin retained this position until their 2019 divorce, despite how their staff hated Kevin so much, it was the employees he leaked news of his philandering to the media.

As the public now knows, Kevin cheated on Wendy throughout their marriage, even while she was pregnant. When the pair finally divorced in 2020, it was because he had fathered a child with his mistress. For Wendy, an actual secret family was the tipping point.

                   Wendy’s Beloved Son Stands By Her

Wendy may be divorced, but the child her marriage produced is Wendy’s rock. Since the fall of 2021, Wendy has been experiencing a mysterious health crisis (Well, mysterious to her fans anyway. She may know exactly what’s going on, and it’s her right to stay mum). The 21-year-old Kevin Jr. has been his mother’s most loyal supporter. In January, he posted a video of Ms. Williams enjoying what looks to be a fabulous breakfast in bed while looking fabulous herself. We’re glad these two have each other!

                Wendy Had a Tendency To Punch Down

Wendy’s long-running talk show was so popular because she never shied away from Hot Topics. In fact, the series had a segment that was aptly named “Hot Topics,” a gimmick designed as an incendiary analysis of the latest headlines. Wendy had a knack for punching up, taking her fellow celebrities to task for their hypocrisy and lies. But Hot Topics also inspired some of Wendy’s more egregious comments.

Basically, Wendy had an unfortunate habit of punching down, going after less powerful, often marginalized people. She had a history of defending R. Kelly, attacking his victims as well as their families. Wendy has also voiced a  distaste for Me Too, a movement that aspires to hold sexual predators accountable for their crimes. Wendy was also known to use her show as a platform for making homophobic and transphobic comments.

                                       Her Legacy Still Matters

Wendy made plenty of hateful comments on her self-titled show, some of which are outlined above. However, Wendy’s legacy matters. In an entertainment industry dominated by skinny white women, it’s still egregiously rare to see a racialized talk show host. Not only did Wendy helm her own hit show, but she won two daytime Emmy for best talk show host in the process. The Wendy Williams show lasted for thirteen entire seasons and a total of fifteen hundred episodes. That’s impressive longevity in an industry that eats talent for breakfast!

So long, Wendy! We hope you have a fabulous comeback in a few years’ time! Just please refrain from punching down when you make your triumphant return…

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor