Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:35 PM ET
Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan are approaching their first anniversary as co-hosts of Live with Kelly and Michael, and if anyone doubted ABC's out-of-the-box decision last year to replace the retiring Regis Philbin with a garrulous defensive end, they're not saying so now. Live with Kelly and Michael is rocking right along. And it's done so right from Strahan's start last Sept. 2.
In fact, the show has drawn audiences as big—or bigger—than Live with Regis and Kelly. Live's iconic producer, Michael Gelman, didn't tweak much when Strahan joined the team. He didn't have to. With his natural chattiness (not to mention his willingness to clown around, even when he might look silly), Strahan turned out to be not so different from Philbin. Fans have had no reason to leave their familiar show, and the 41-year-old Strahan has brought a slightly younger, hipper feel to the proceedings.
Not every moment works, of course. The same gags and sketches that might have fallen flat in Philbin's day are equally susceptible to lameness now. Like the day WWE champion John Cena visited, and someone thought it would be funny to dress Ripa, Strahan and Cena up like sumo wrestlers. It was funny—for about one minute. Then it just became tedious:
But because Strahan's game for anything—even the dumb stuff—he has brought an endearing, gentle-giant-like vibe to the show. He cuddles puppies. He exercises with babies. He dresses up in pink feather boas. But his size is imposing, obviously. And in the off chance you've missed this, Ripa often reminds her audience that she's sitting next to a former pro athlete.
At the same time, though, that big, strong former Giant just so happens to be scared of snakes:
And there's a reason college dorm rooms have posters of muscle men holding babies. Women love that, and Live's audience loved this:
Most importantly, Strahan and Ripa have chemistry. They are both attractive, extroverted goofballs, and their banter works. We're just glad they didn't get too carried away eating SexCereal…
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.