Why do we care so much about morning TV hosts like Kelly and Michael?

They’re like family you welcome into your home each morning …

Uh-huh. The Putin family, maybe.

OK, maybe that’s a wee bit harsh. Still, the time honored conventional wisdom about why we care so much about the hosts of popular morning TV shows like “Live with Kelly & Michael (but only until Friday!)” doesn’t seem quite as conventional these days.

It wasn't so long ago that No. 1-rated "Today" promoted its hosts as "America's first family." Now, while the idea of Matt Lauer & Savannah Guthrie or Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan as family hasn't completely gone away, it's more like they're someone else's family.

Someone’s smiling-on-the-outside, gossiping-and-scheming-on-the-inside family we kind of get a kick out of watching and gossiping about ourselves.

"That old fashioned notion of them as family still does prevail somewhat," said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "If you watch 'Live' five days a week for an hour, you likely spend more time looking directly at (Ripa's and Strahan's) faces than you do your own children's.

“But now it’s also a case of some things are going on you wouldn’t want to have happen at your own family’s Thanksgiving table,” Thompson continued. “But it’s really fun to watch it it happen at somebody else’s table.”

That likely helps account for the reams of "who's to 'blame' for the 'Live' divorce" stories and the dueling #TeamRipa and #TeamStrahan hashtags on Twitter. There's nothing new about our interest in the Machiavellian tactics behind the makeup and breakup of co-host teams — just Google "Jane Pauley" and "Today."

What is different now is social media and the Internet seemingly taking us behind the scenes of these "family dramas" like never before — and, in an odd sort of way, joining us into a sprawling new family.

“We are such a diverse nation and we share so little in common, but we have the opportunity to communicate with everybody and have some common ground on this,” Thompson said. “If you go and tweet about how crazy your uncle is, no one will read it or care.”

But if the “crazy uncle” you’re tweeting about hosts a morning TV show?

“We think people will read it and get exactly what we’re talking about,” Thompson said.

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