Miss a few months of The View and, upon your return, chances are you're looking at some new faces and someone you'd spent the previous six months getting to know is no longer there.
As far as longevity goes, the show itself has been a fixture of the morning talk scene for almost 20 years, an immovable boulder on ABC's daytime programming block. But while a certain amount of turnover under not-so-mysterious circumstances has been a hallmark of The View almost since inception, the last few years have seen a veritable parade of co-hosts enter and exit through the ever-revolving door.
And if you're thinking that maybe it only seems like there's been more turnover lately, that it's an illusion of some sorts... No, since Barbara Walters (and, perhaps just as importantly, co-creator and executive producer Bill Geddie) left in 2014, The View has definitely been having trouble keeping its seats warm.
Of course, that could be part of a master, millennial-targeting plan to ensure that audiences--who are older in the morning despite every advertiser's wish that they be young, tech-savvy and unrealistically wealthy—don't get bored, that they keep tuning in to see a new dynamic, new faces, new...Views!
But morning shows, despite the allure of momentary drama, don't thrive on turmoil. Audiences expect and prefer to take their coffee with the same upbeat (even when bickering) people every day.
"I used to love this show but I lost interest when some of the best show host leaves the show one by one. Not the same anymore," read a comment on E! News' Facebook page in response to the news that Raven-Symonéwould be the latest to leave after less than two years at the table.
"First off. She was barely there so what's to miss?" read another.
While sudden, at least the 30-year-old actress' exit is one of the less acrimonious departures in recent memory—though even if she really is leaving peacefully to head back to the Disney Channel for a That's So Raven sequel spinoff (à la Girl Meets World) in which she plays her same character only grown up and a single mom, try telling that to suspicious minds and/or TV audiences who've grown far too savvy to accept the company line.
"Nobody leaves The View. She was fired. ABC policy is they gracefully tell them to say [they're] leaving the show. They did that with many in the past. Such as Nicolle [sic] Wallace, Jenny McCarthy, Sherry Sheppard [sic] to name a few," suggested another commenter. (Nicolle Wallace was indeed fired after one season; it was reported that both McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd were fired; the slightly more official version is that McCarthy was fired after one season and Shepherd left after seven seasons when she didn't get the deal she wanted.)
But most of the online commentary is devoted to Raven-Symoné herself and it's largely negative, as so many knee-jerk online reactions tend to be these days (eye-rolling seems to be what she was largely known for among her non-fans).
Aside from onscreen chemistry (if you believe everything you read, no one has ever gotten along behind the scenes on any show, but you have to trust that most people can at least be professional with their colleagues), is audience reaction—which comes in in real time these days—contributing to the rapidly increasing rate of turnover on The View?
ABC is famously tight-lipped about the inner workings of the show, but can always be relied upon to quash feud rumors and other reports of warring co-hosts off-camera.
Whoopi Goldberg, is now, in her 10th season, the longest-serving co-host other than Walters, Joy Behar (who returned in 2015 after voluntarily leaving in 2013 to host her own show on HLN) and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who was on the show for 11 years before her exit in 2013 for Fox and Friends.
The Oscar winner's influence on hirings and firings could have only increased over the years as she became the veteran host of the bunch, but Goldberg has recently said on multiple occasions that this will likely be her last season. She by choice signed a one-year contract for season 20.
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images
"I have to do it, baby, because I have to go and grow," Goldberg told Wendy Williamslast month. "I got stuff to do. I got movies I need to direct.I got books I got to finish."
She added, "This was great and I love doing it, but it's been awhile and they're in their 20th season. They did this without me."
But what are they doing now?
Since 2014, when Shepherd and McCarthy left, nine new faces have come (11 if you count Behar and Rosie O'Donnell) and four have gone (five if you count O'Donnell): Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace arrived in 2014 and left in 2015; Raven-Symoné arrived in 2015 and is due to leave in December, if it turns out she actually sticks around that long; and Michelle Collins, who joined in 2015, was gone after one season.
"I don't really know why any of those decisions were made," an unnamed ABC exec told Vanity Fair in May 2015, "but I do not believe it's ever a smart call to blow up a program and start from scratch."
Candace Cameron-Bure survived her first full-time season and is back for season 20, as did Paula Faris. Joining them, Behar and Goldberg this September as a full-time co-host was Sara Haines, while Jedediah Bila and Sunny Hostin were named official contributors. Meanwhile, tables are only so big and only so many people can fit in the frame at once.
"I loved the job. I had no plans of quitting," Wallace, now a political contributor to NBC News, told Variety last summer after learning she was one and done. "I think I thought that I would learn somewhere other than Variety that I'd been fired. It shattered my naivete about television. Listen, it's all fair. I wasn't wronged by anybody. But I was surprised to learn in the press about their decision not to bring me back."
And it sounds like, judging by Wallace's experience, ABC doesn't just play mum with the media.
"I had never had one note from anybody inside the entire organization during the entire season [before she was fired]. No one said a word to me," she said. "Maybe I should have seen it coming. Not after a single show, a single Hot Topic or a single interview. It was like being invisible. But not in an unpleasant way." Moreover, no one at ABC called her; after the news broke, someone called her agent to talk about a different role at ABC News, she said.
Wallace's personal experience, as she described it, certainly rings a bell when you think about what happened to Kelly Ripaearlier this year.
She wasn't informed until the last possible minute that Michael Strahanwould be announcing his departure from Live! With Kelly and Michael after four years, and ABC execs later apologized to Ripa for bungling the process.
"We made some mistakes, we fixed them quickly and we moved on," Disney-ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood told The Hollywood Reporter after the PR debacle. "I was on the set of Live recently: The show is in great shape, Kelly is in a great place, the hunt for a new co-host is underway, the excitement is building, and I believe the future of that show is bright."
The View, meanwhile, falls under the ABC News, which is a division within the Disney-ABC Television Group. Sherwood was appointed president in January 2015 after four years as president of ABC News, where Barbara Walters worked for almost 40 years until her retirement in 2014.
"Barbara kept the lid on craziness," Behar told Vanity Fair after Walters left, referring to the veteran newswoman's as yet inimitable ability to prevent the butting heads from not butting too hard.
"I would be happy to see a whole new panel. I find most of them to be rude, mean girls to anyone that doesn't share there [sic] 'view,'" read another comment in response to Raven-Symoné's looming departure. "I think the talk does a way better job at expressing opinions and giving everyone a chance to speak without passing judgement."
That also wasn't the only comment to praise CBS' The Talk—which has had the same five co-hosts for six seasons now, three of whom—Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert and Sharon Osbournehave been around for seven.
In April 2015, almost a year after she left, Jenny McCarthy predicted The View's imminent demise if it kept playing musical chairs.
"I only say that if they don't stick to that idea—which is to allow something to simmer rather than transitioning so many different things, like, change a chair, change a table, change the background, change the people," she told the New York Daily News.
"If it doesn't boil quick, you're out," McCarthy, who also compared The View's approach to swiping on Tinder, also said. "I feel like they're not allowing anything to grow. They want instant gratification. So they're very scattered, and until they kind of commit to an idea, I think they're going to have problems."
If Whoopi Goldberg does leave at the end of this season, that may provide an opportunity to revamp the panel once again, although familiarity seems to be a recurring theme for The View's success.
Nothing has come close to the 5.2 million who tuned in for Walters' farewell episode, but ratings started to improve as season 19 went along after the premiere was watched by 22 percent fewer people than tuned in for the season 18 premiere, featuring the return of O'Donnell.
But there may also be something to the views of those who like the idea of a whole new set of faces once again. Season 20's premiere week averaged 2.67 million viewers and the season premiere episode was up by 166,000 viewers over the season 19 premiere. But more importantly, The View's first week beat The Talk's first week, 2.67 to 2.24 million.
And while it's so much coffee talk to us, at the end of the day it's business for them.
(E! News and NBC News are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)