Cloaked in hot pink, stripes, polka dots and pussy bows, Megyn Kelly fearlessly tried to reinvent herself last week. Cloyingly sweet, the clothes, banter and persona felt like the definition of fake news.

It's not simply that Kelly wasn't likable (which she wasn't). And it's not just that the segments were painfully awkward (which they were). It was that Kelly seemed like a little girl playing dress-up in someone else's clothes. The billowing A-line skirts looked nothing like the sharply cut shift dresses she wore on Fox News. And the expression on her face was equally ill-fitting.

Megyn Kelly Today, which premiered Sept. 25, averaged 2.5 million viewers in its first week, according to Nielsen. That was down 12 percent from Today's 9 a.m. hour in the same week last year — and down a whopping 24 percent among the coveted 25 to 54 demo, according to USA Today.

 

If Megyn Kelly 1.0 was a triumph of marketing, Megyn Kelly 2.0 has been a failure of packaging. After agreeing to a hefty $17 million contract, NBC executives decided to give the fierce anchor a Middle America makeover. Women were supposed to see the softer side of the sharp, sarcastic blonde. Cue the smiles. Nix the politics. Right?

Well, it turns out it's not that easy to turn a biting beauty into a modern-day Stepford Wife. 

 

Over the last week, critics have been slamming Kelly for not being likable. There were few reputable newspapers that gave the former Fox anchor two thumbs up.

"The New York Times called the show 'awkward' and 'just not enjoyable,'" Queerty reported. "The Los Angeles Times said it was 'rocky,' 'rough,' and said the chilly reception should be 'a worrying sign for a network,'" the site added.

"And let’s not forget The Washington Post, which called Kelly 'nervous' and 'awkward' and compared watching the show to 'watching a network try to assemble its own Bride of Frankenstein, using parts of Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa and whatever else it can find,'" Queerty wrote.

 

Now, insiders say, NBC is surveying the wreckage and trying to correct course. “It’s like an implosion,” one NBC insider told Vanity Fair.“ Everyone is surprised at how quickly it’s gone badly,” the source continued. “People are just like, ‘oh my god.’

But why give Megyn Kelly a makeover at all? The answer: Katie Couric.

A little over a decade ago, NBC's good-luck charm confirmed reports that she was leaving Today. “I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut — two things that have served me pretty well in the past — I’ve decided I’ll be leaving ‘Today’ at the end of May,” she said at the time. “I really feel as if we’ve become friends through the years.”

Couric replaced Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News for a multi-million-dollar salary. But NBC's good-luck charm didn't translate on the evening news at all. And CBS' groundbreaking experiment fell flat.

 

Since that time, NBC has desperately tried to recreate the magic the network had with Couric and Matt Lauer. Ann Curry was a disaster. And Megyn Kelly is quickly following in her footsteps.

NBC took a sexy, hard-hitting anchor who appealed to right-leaning men and tried to make her a sugar-sweet talk-show host who is the every woman.

But Megyn Kelly is not the every woman. And she never will be.

 

Kelly Ripa has long been successful in the 9:00 a.m. time slot, and she's neither hard-hitting nor sugar-sweet. She is who she is, and that's why viewers like her. 

When a magazine starts a redesign its creative director choose new fonts, colors and layouts. But the Kelly conundrum isn't that simple. NBC execs bought one dress and tried to make it into another. Now, as the Washington Post wrote, NBC is left with its "own Bride of Frankenstein, using parts of Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa and whatever else it [could] find.”

Do you think there's any way NBC can fix the Megyn Kelly problem? Let us know your take in the comments section below!