The Talk returned to television screens across the country on Monday, April 12—and Sharon Osbourne was nowhere to be seen.
As fans learned on March 26, Osbourne—an original co-host of the show for 11 seasons—left the show following the controversy that erupted over the series' March 10 episode. While there was no chair left for Osbourne, co-hosts Amanda Kloots, Elaine Welteroth, Sheryl Underwood and Carrie Ann Inaba, who was not on the show on March 10, were present for the first episode on Monday since The Talk's brief hiatus.
"It's time for an episode of The Talk that will be unlike any other we've had before," Underwood said as she began the show alone backstage. "We haven't been together at the studio since the week of March 10, and as you may know, during our break, Sharon decided to leave The Talk. We need to process the events of that day and what happened since, so we can get to the healing. Over the next hour we will honestly discuss what occurred and explore some of our feelings, and we'll also show you how anyone can become more comfortable with discussing important issues and having difficult conversations. And by the end of the hour, we want everyone to feel empowered and ready to move forward. So, let's start talking."
During their weeks away, Inaba explained that they've been in "healing sessions," led by diversity and equity experts, both individually and as a group. Now back together, they unpacked the sequence of events on March 10 from their own points of view with the help of Dr. Donald Grant, who moderated the conversation.
At soon as the conversation began, Underwood admitted that she felt "nervous" but also believed she was in a safe space to discuss the tense conversation millions watched between herself and Osbourne.
"I didn't want to escalate things with Sharon because I thought I was having a conversation with a friend," she explained. "But also, I knew I had to be an example for others to follow because I didn't want to be perceived as the angry Black woman and that really scared me. I didn't want to be that. I wanted to remain calm and remain focused. It's difficult to go back to that day because I just feel the trauma, I feel fearful, a little apprehensive.
When Welteroth had the opportunity to speak, she chose to acknowledge Underwood's "strength and willpower" during the situation.
Welteroth continued, "I was just really entering that conversation with the hope of finding common ground and I didn't feel that I was heard, which saddened me because part of the reason I joined this show with all these diverse beautiful intelligent women is I thought that we had an opportunity here and think we do have an opportunity here to have conversations that help show people how we can bridge these divides in our country and that we can do it with empathy."
When looking back on the episode, Welteroth said viewers will see "two Black women walking the same tightrope that Black women are walking every single day in the workplace."
"Even in the face of someone who was A, not listening and B, went off the rails into disrespect, when we were maintaining our respect within the context of this very complex charge, emotional conversation, that was emotional for all of us," she explained. "There's been a lot of false narratives that have been spun in the aftermath of what happened in that episode...We were respecting the integrity of an investigation and this is the first time that I've had an opportunity to speak and I think it's really important we have the opportunity to say that the false accusations forming in the press that frame Sheryl and I as some kind of people who attacked a woman on air and were part of some sort of conspiracy, that is absolutely categorically false."
During the candid conversation, Underwood also took the time to set the record straight on some of the rumors she has faced in recent weeks.
According to the comedian, she has not spoken to Osbourne since the episode and has not received any phone calls from the former co-host. And while she has received text messages from Osbourne, Underwood chose not to respond because of the internal investigation. "I've never been through anything like this so I didn't know if you were supposed to communicate or not communicate while there's an internal investigation," she explained. "So I want to be clear on this. I have not spoken to Sharon. I have not had a phone call from her."
On March 26, Osbourne announced she was leaving The Talk after nearly 11 years as a co-host.
"The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home," CBS said in a statement. "As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon's behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace. We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts."
The Talk airs weekdays at 2 p.m. EST and 1 p.m. PST on CBS.