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Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb's bubbly hour of 'Today' was fueled by love, not booze

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb's bubbly hour of 'Today' was fueled by love, not booze
Hoda Kotb, left, and Kathie Lee Gifford made the fourth hour of the "Today" show feel like a place to kick back and hang with your bestie. (Nathan Congleton / NBC)

For more than 10 years, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb have been making a spectacle of themselves during the fourth hour of the “Today” show — and in the best possible way.

Powered by omnipresent glasses of wine or cocktails, Gifford and Kotb gossip and giggle their way through the day’s events, game for most anything , be it elaborate costumes or song-and-dance numbers or goofy games.

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Their kooky antics have been dismissed in some corners of pop culture as alcohol-fueled ridiculousness, easy targets for naysayers to dismiss the pair as fluff.

But as the years passed, it became clear that Kotb and Gifford weren’t being fueled by booze. They were actually infected with that gloriously heady feeling of getting into — and out of — trouble with your best friend.

Alas, the dynamic duo’s days are numbered.

On Tuesday, Gifford announced her impending departure from NBC’s “Today,” a move that, come April, will leave Kotb to carry the hour without her.

It’s truly the end of an era. At a time when vitriol is ever-present throughout the cultural conversation, Gifford and Kotb are a reprieve from the political sniping seeping into all other public discourse.

Is it thoroughly ludicrous to spend my morning watching them taste-test fast-food french fries? Absolutely. Would I do that a thousand times before sitting down to watch whatever is being argued about on “The View”? In a heartbeat.

What makes Gifford and Kotb truly different is their relationship. Though they were thrown together by NBC a decade ago, it’s obvious that the two have forged a deep friendship. And if you don’t believe me, just watch the above video and hear how they talk about each other.

The difference between this marriage of convenience and so many others on television is that from it blossomed true chemistry.

Watching Kotb and Gifford is like watching Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. It’s hanging out with two women who love being together, where everything is an adventure and all that matters is that they get to spend time with their BFF. If the cameras are rolling while it happens, so be it.

The power of female friendship, especially on television, is underrated. And the opportunity to do something as simple as turn on your television and feel as though you’re a part of something genuine — even if it’s genuinely silly — offers a special kind of magic.

After Gifford leaves “Today,” her bond with Kotb will surely go on. But the world will no longer be invited into their clubhouse.

And that hurts more than any early-afternoon hangover could.

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