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Farewell Fashion Police

Joan Rivers

We fondly remember HIV Activist Joan Rivers as her fashion-critique creation comes to a perhaps long overdue end.

Joan Rivers was the original honey badger. She really didn’t give a shit — a quality the foul-mouthed veteran comedian often displayed while hosting her hit E! television series, Fashion Police, a show that comedically and unapologetically “critiques” celebrity fashion.

“Boy George is all England needs — another queen who can't dress,” Rivers once quipped on the show, and then there was the time she joked that “Justin Bieber looked like a little lesbian.”

But despite the fact that Rivers’s material often centered on outdated racial and LGBT stereotypes, people were rarely offended by it. In fact, over the years Rivers has become a beloved gay icon — revered rather than rebuked for her outrageously crass, celebrity-dragging brand of humor.

So when the seemingly healthy, spry, and inappropriate-as-ever 81-year-old suddenly fell ill and passed away in September of 2014, many of her fans felt the show should go with her. And time has pretty much proved them right, with FP going through what has felt like an endless stream of co-hosts and controversies ever since.

Longtime co-host Giuliana Rancic also questioned the fate of the show, saying to ABC News at the time, “Can there be a show without Joan? Do we want to do a Fashion Police without Joan? I don’t know.”

But just weeks after Rivers’s passing, it was announced FP would return for the 2015 awards show season — and today Rancic is surely among those who, in hindsight, probably feel the show should have ended with Rivers. Almost immediately after the Joan-less reboot began, Rancic came under fire for comments she made about the dreadlock hairstyle Zendaya sported to an awards ceremony, saying the young singer-actress looked like she “smelled like patchouli and weed.”

Backstage tensions mounted after the controversy when fellow co-host Kelly Osbourne publicly denounced Rancic’s comments as racist, and stated she had “warned” Rancic not to follow through with them on air.

On the heels of surviving (or did it?) that first hiccup, the show was dealt another harsh blow. The show's first attempt to “replace" Rivers was with Kathy Griffin, who seemed a natural choice given the fiery redheaded comedian’s similar no-holds-barred style of roasting A-list celebs.

But alas, after only seven episodes in and feeling unable to find the show’s new groove, Griffin called it quits. “I discovered that my style does not fit with the creative direction of the show & now it’s time to move on,” she tweeted in a statement at the time.

Since then, hiatuses and hordes of (mostly unfunny) co-hosts have plagued the show — though even stints by big talents and personalities like Margaret Cho and Nene Leakes also failed to recapture the mischievous magic that Rivers brought to FP. Perhaps Rivers’s death truly did represent the end of an era in a world of ever-changing political climates. Perhaps we knew deep in our hearts that these attempts were all in vain, but we just weren’t quite ready to let go.

Since her death, countless stories have come out about the legend’s random acts of kindness and charitable generosity — one of the few topics she was actually quiet about in her life. Among the many causes she supported, Rivers was a passionate advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS and gave millions to related causes during her life.

Regardless of when we think it should or shouldn’t have ended, the Fashion Police will officially air its last episode November 27, as reported by Variety last week after the official announcement. The finale will be a retrospective focusing mostly on memories of Rivers, which we’re sure will bring us to tears of laughter — and love. 

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Desirée Guerrero

Editor

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.