Dec. 2 seemed like any other day on “GMA3: What You Need to Know,” the third hour of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” when co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach engaged in the usual banter behind the anchor desk.
“It’s too bad it’s Friday. It’s been a great week,” said Holmes. “Just want this one to keep going and going and going—just enjoy it. Take it all in.”
Replied Robach, “Speak for yourself.”
To the viewers who live under rocks, their exchange was the same kind of forgettable patter that is standard on these daytime broadcasts. But to those in the know, Holmes and Robach were offering something of a coded response to what certainly didn’t seem like a great week; their heretofore secret relationship had just become the nation’s tabloid topic du jour, made juicier by the fact that the viewing audience thought they were married to other people.
You can just picture someone in the writers’ room at Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” sighing, “That would have made a great storyline for us.”
Don’t be surprised if the next ratings report for “GMA3” reveals elevated audience levels; more viewers probably tuned in to hear if Robach and Holmes publicly address the relationship. Nevertheless, ABC News president Kim Godwin announced Monday that the two are being sidelined in order to evaluate how best to proceed, though she also made clear they violated no company policy. These are consenting adults who had already ended their prior marriages.
While that’s a sensible impulse on Godwin’s part, she’d be wise to consider there may be a great opportunity staring her in the face.
Surely someone at the network — maybe even newly recrowned Disney CEO Bob Iger — might be thinking, “Why not have these co-anchors acknowledge their romance and make it part of the show?” in order to keep things interesting and give “GMA” an edge in its eternal ratings struggle with NBC’s “Today”?
For those clutching their pearls at the mere suggestion of such a stunt, give me a break: “GMA3” may be a product of the news division, but these hours are often programmed with content in which “news” doesn’t exactly come with a capital N. Journalistic integrity isn’t at stake here.
This isn’t the equivalent of, say, asking Dan Rather and Connie Chung to hold hands when they anchored the “CBS Evening News” in the 1990s.
Why not have Holmes and Robach not only go public on “GMA” with their relationship but make it a continual point of reference for them and others on the show? Don’t hide it, flaunt it!
Godwin could opt to have the anchors continue doing the show like they did Friday and not be direct with the audience, but then any ratings bump will be temporary. In our hyperspeed tabloid culture, what burns hot one moment burns out just as quickly the next.
By the standards of broadcast daytime TV, which doesn’t seem to go long without an anchor getting embroiled in one scandal or another, “GMA3” may actually be on the tamer side. What’s going on at “GMA3” isn’t even unprecedented on daytime; MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” also features co-anchors who left their spouses for each other.
Yes, there’s no guarantee their relationship is going to last forever, and what do you do with these two if and when they break up? But in that event, it’s best they address their breakup on the air, too.
Getting their relationship out in the open would be a refreshing change in a daypart in which it’s crucial for on-air personalities to establish an authenticity that resonates with viewers. Having anchors pretend they’re not a couple is going to ring a false note for an audience well versed in the tropes of reality TV, where no elephant in the room goes unaddressed.