Why was it so weird to see Ellen Degeneres weep over a transplanted puppy, then cancel two of her tapings because the whole thing was too much for her, like a Victorian-era gentlewoman with the vapors? And Bill Maher threaten to kick the ass of a disruptive audience member at his live HBO show, then charge toward the offender’s section as if he’d heard the round-one bell go off?

Maybe because it seemed like strange examples of confident, groundbreaking talk show stars resorting to some kind of stereotypical notion of gender roles to score points. However you feel about who was right and who was wrong with the dog scenario, Degeneres’ crying plea was a strange thing to watch at a time when a smart, accomplished, more-than-capable woman is trying to win the White House in a country where many are still ignorant enough to think that females are too emotional for the job. And then there’s Maher, who probably thought just calling for security from his chair would seem wimpy, so decided to play bouncer himself, even though by the time he got to the 9/11 conspiracy-theorist heckler, the dude was being dragged out by plenty of big guys. Another strange thing to watch when everyone’s suffered from the calculated aggression of a fake-macho male president, and who’s been constantly criticized as such by Maher himself. Maybe angry gal Rosie and sensitive guy Donahue should get together to host a show and balance this out.

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