Karamo Brown had some big shoes to fill when Karamo took over the Maury Povich slot. The Queer Eye fav carried on the torch of the legendary host, bringing his own relatable approach and charismatic personality to the talk show space.
Building on the success of the syndicated daytime show’s inaugural season, Karamo is ready to jump back into helping guests work through relationship conflicts and family struggles. Much like Maury, there are similar topics covered from revealing DNA results to addressing infidelity For the latter, there is Karamo’s “Unlock The Phone” segment where guests can have the host’s investigative team uncover their partner’s cell phone history for any signs of cheating.
“We’re going to have a lot more raw emotions,” Karamo told TV Insider about season 2. “People will have more of a chance to express how they feel. We’re going to continue to make sure I leave my guests a little better than I found them.”
Here the host explains what makes his show stand out among others and how his reality show past helped shape his approach.
What are some lessons you learned from season 1 that you are taking into this season?
Karamo Brown: Everything worked for us in season 1. I came in and found my voice while also staying true to the genre of conflict of daytime TV. We found that balance where I welcomed the guests to be animated and have fun while also making sure that I left them better off than I found them. I keep telling all my producers and guests that life is messy for every single one of us. Whether you have no money or a ton of money, we want to lean into that. We want our viewers to see themselves in our guests. I don’t want anyone to hide their emotions or hide their feelings. I want them to be their authentic selves. As we do that even more and then combine with me making sure I’m there to help them out. Giving them real tools and real advice. I want to continue to grow. I’m excited about season 2.
When you initially stepped into this role, you were taking over for Maury after 30 years. You got to know him and the guest host a bit. How were those conversations with him? Did he give you any advice?
One of the things Maury always said to me was people are going to compare you to me. Fight against that. You’re not me and my show is not your show. It’s one of those things I always appreciated about him is he was very excited for me to get this role. I respect Maury. He is a legend. I always keep that in the back of my head. We’re different…my focus is on the closure and on the healing. Maury was exceptional. But Maury didn’t have that next step. I kept in my mind those words making sure I was myself and never tried to be his show. Even though there are similarities, I don’t mind that. I think it’s great because I think my whole goal is to be familiar yet fresh.
What are some of the toughest topics you’ve tackled and hope to tackle in the future?
In season 1 we tackled addiction in a great way. I even had my own son on. We tackled domestic violence. We tackled a lot of issues based on things I’ve also gone through in my life. This season already we have done more of that. We had an episode in season 2 that will be one of the first episodes where I’m unlocking a couple’s phones. That is my signature thing and something I came up with. If you want to strengthen and test someone’s relationship unlock their phone. We have these FBI agents from our staff who go in and find things that were deleted for years.
We were having this couple segment where I realized through my own training and background with my family this woman was about to be in an abusive relationship. Halfway through I was like, “I don’t need to unlock your phone to tell you where this was headed.” The emotion from the audience where they thought, “Thank you for making sure people understand controlling behavior and that domestic violence is not a joke. It’s not about a segment on a show. It’s deeper. What I always try to do is drive home the point that this is real life. I say that many times. I treat the show in that way to bring ideas out.
Where are we on daytime TV? What do you make of the evolution?
I love daytime right now. I’ve always been a fan. I pull inspiration from the OGs like Phil Donahue, Oprah [Winfrey], and Montel [Williams]. Those are the people I looked at and made me want to have my own talk show. I love how they handled conflict and people’s emotions and took it a step further and engaged in conversation. I think what we’re seeing from talk is amazing. However, when it comes to talking to real people and not just celebrities, it’s just Steve Wilkos and myself. Tamron Hall does it a little with inspirational stories. I love having all these exceptional women like Kelly [Clarkson], Jennifer [Hudson], Sherri [Shepherd], and Tamron doing entertainment so well.
I think we’re at a place where people get a lot of what they’re looking for in different ways. I’m proud to be part of this new crop. I love that social media is part of it. I love to get that feedback. The way people have watched TV has changed. My 18-19-year-olds watch on YouTube or TikTok. There are others in their 50s and 60s who love watching me every day at 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. on TV. It’s so interesting to see how everyone consumes the show. I love seeing the numbers. Last year our show did phenomenally on YouTube and social media. We’re bringing in this new generation of daytime talk.
What do The Queer Eye guys think of what you’re doing? Are they tough critics?
Tan [France] would never change my fashion. He knows I look good always. Bobby [Berk] is always so supportive. He calls me constantly. He is a fan of the show and is caught up in it. I was at [Antoni] Porowski’s engagement party and Jonathan [Van Ness] ran up to me to say he was at the airport talking about me with someone. He said they were talking about the Karamo show. His exact words were like “B*tch, you made it.” We all support each other in that way when one another succeeds because we started together. I am appreciative of their support.
It’s crazy we’re coming on 20 years from when we first met you on TV through The Real World Philadelphia. You’ve come a long way.
I’m not that old. I promise you I’m not that old. I’m only 19. Can you print that so it can go to my Wikipedia page? It’s wild. I also saw Jennifer Hudson this year did her 20-year since being on American Idol. To know that 2024 next year is my year of being on TV and being exposed to the world. I think back to the impact reality TV has had. If you look at Kely, and Jennifer, we’re all reality stars who have turned ourselves into TV hosts, Grammy winners, Oscar and Emmy winners. It’s wild that 20 years later when I was in reality there wasn’t this respect that reality stars have now. There certainly wasn’t a paycheck. I can tell you what I made in Real World, and it was nothing.
I love being a part of that initial wave. It legitimized reality TV and set a precedence that reality stars have talent, have skills and definitely belong and should be valued in the entertainment space. I’m so happy we’re talking about unionizing reality stars. I’ve been talking about that forever. After 20 years I’ve been doing this, have shown you can start on reality and build your career with authenticity, and transparency. Where you can have a viable career that people can connect to.
It’s easy to pass judgment on to guests, but you don’t do that. Would you say that kind of empathy also came from your time on reality TV?
A hundred percent. I have been put in boxes. I was the black gay guy. For some people, I was the crazy guy. I was then the guy who was inspirational. People want to put you in whatever box they want to put you in. For me, it’s nice to say to my guests I’m not going to put you in a box. I know they will have some good days, bad days, happy days, and sad days. I’m going to let that be how I guide the conversation. Reality television has allowed me to be a great television host in that way. I’m able to connect more. I sit across from people and see them for who they are and don’t judge them.
Karamo season 2 premiere, Sept 18, Syndication (Check local listings)