Can Oprah’s ‘secrets’ surprise us anymore?

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This is how important and influential Oprah Winfrey is — when the woman announces that she’s going to announce big news, it’s big news. Fans and media outlets nationwide were waiting with baited breath for Oprah’s revelation on her show today.

What would the secret be? At first, all we knew came via a very dramatic promo that aired last week, which claimed Oprah will be revealing a family secret that has “shocked her to her core” and is a “miracle.”

We now know the “miracle” was the revelation that Oprah has recently learned she has a half-sister she never knew about (as well as nieces and nephews).

Click here to view a slideshow of Oprah’s most controversial moments

Some have high hopes for this story, but there’s also a nagging feeling that this provocative tidbit of family gossip is no more than a ratings gimmick for Oprah’s last season on network television. Fact is, we already know so much about Oprah, maybe even too much — the childhood sex abuse, the drug use, affairs with married men, even suicidal thoughts. Oprah has made an art of making her past personal life public, all while still maintaining a firm sense of privacy about her life in the present.

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However in this last season of the Oprah Winfrey Show, it appears Ms. O is willing to barter some family secrets in exchange for a bump in ratings. Not that she exactly needs them — Oprah has always dominated the talk show circuit. Nevertheless, there is pressure for the talk show queen to deliver extraordinary episodes for her 25th and final season. Not only does she want to go out with a bang, she also needs to make sure those millions of fans roll over to her OWN Network — which is already experiencing a drop in ratings after it’s much-hyped debut in early January.

Unfortunately for Oprah, her biggest competition is herself. Her past shows have featured ratings boosters like giving away cars to an entire audience of fans, interviewing Michael Jackson and, more recently, taking an audience on a trip to Australia. As the season comes to a close there is a desire to see the episodes reach a deafening crescendo of entertainment, but the question remains — can Oprah top Oprah?

Let’s hope this family secret revelation can do the trick. Initially theories ranged from the somewhat impractical (a long lost daughter), to the absurd (of course, involving Gail King). Celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley, who chronicled Oprah’s tangled family history in an unauthorized biography, correctly suggested that the secret was Oprah’s long lost half-sister.

Now that the truth is out, a few fans might be disappointed. A half-sister, while interesting, doesn’t exactly equate to the “miracle” that Oprah has referenced. Of course we can anticipate tears and some sort of heartbreak from the always-emotional Oprah, but after all her amazing episodes, a half-sister doesn’t exactly add up to appointment TV. When it comes to family secrets, this may be one occasion where speculation proves to be more interesting than the truth.