Wendy Williams amongst stars

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Is Wendy Williams back? Fans praying for the queen of gossip’s return

'The Wendy Williams Show,' a beloved internet meme factory, was canceled in 2022 after Williams took a leave of absence due to health issues


Kira Deshler


Posted on Feb 8, 2024   Updated on Feb 8, 2024, 10:58 am CST

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Reneé Rapp’s questions may finally be answered. The Mean Girls star has been using her time during interviews to bring up missing-in-action talk show host Wendy Williams, asking how many days it’s been since she’s been seen in public. On Friday, long-suffering fans like Rapp were finally given a clue to this mystery in the form of the trailer for a new Lifetime documentary. “my fucking queen,” Rapp wrote in response.

The Wendy Williams Show, a beloved internet meme factory, was canceled in 2022 after Williams took a leave of absence due to health issues. Shortly thereafter, Wells Fargo froze Williams’ bank account and appointed her a guardian, alleging that she was not in a position to manage her own finances. Williams spoke out against the decision on Instagram, but has remained largely absent from the public eye since then.

The timing of the Lifetime documentary feels appropriate. On X—particularly on Black Twitter, as it’s still called—fans have been saying that they miss Williams and wish she were still on air to comment on the current drama. The beef between Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion has been tearing up the internet, and many fans are imagining the tea that Williams would have spilled about the situation. (Williams has been critical of Minaj in the past, calling her husband a killer and a sex offender.)

Indeed, Williams has been spilling the tea on so-called bad apples in the industry for years. As noted in The Root, Williams called out powerful men like Diddy and Bill Cosby before it was popular to do so. “and when the world needed her messy ass the most… she VANISHED,” one fan wrote about her disappearance. It’s not just nameless users on the internet who love Williams, either. She has a fan in Meghan McCain, who called Williams a “truth teller and a legend.”

While some viewers yearn for Williams to deliver her patented no-holds-barred celebrity commentary, the documentary trailer has others concerned for her well-being. 

“This scared me and broke my heart,” one X user wrote. Another fan suggested that “Britney’s army” should mobilize to help free Williams from her guardianship, which many have compared to Britney Spears’ conservatorship saga. In fact, one X account, a former Britney Spears page, is now titled “WHERE IS WENDY? #FreeWendy,” and attempts to spread awareness about the issue. Another fan created a change.org petition to grant Williams her freedom.

But not everyone is on the #FreeWendy train. Some of Williams’ haters maintain that the hardships Williams has experienced are karma for the sins she’s committed, such as airing Method Man’s wife’s cancer diagnosis or speaking ill of Britney Spears. These X users claim that all of this concern for Williams is fake, as these people never even liked Williams when she was on air.

There is something to these claims of hypocrisy, as Williams has often been considered an endless source of memes rather than a real human being. Notably, this meme-ification process befalls black women most acutely, as these images become disconnected from the person behind them.

Why it matters

Williams has always been a controversial figure, and it can be difficult to tell her fans from her haters. What those bemoaning her disappearance want is someone to cut to the truth of the matter, which is exactly what she did on her show.

The Britney Spears conservatorship controversy gave people a better understanding of these issues, but are Williams’ fans really committed to freeing her, or do they just want more meme-able moments? Either way, the void Williams left has yet to be filled, and the Hot Topics just keep coming. 

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*First Published: Feb 8, 2024, 6:00 am CST