Perhaps I was naive. Perhaps I was just foolish. But I honestly thought that the age of the Jerry Springer-esque daytime television show had passed. I remember when Jerry Springer and those kind of shows were all the rage; they used to show episodes in the college late-night dining area and people would cheer and catcall whenever so and so ghetto trailer park person (sure it's a stereotype but that doesn't mean it's inaccurate) would physically attack the other ghetto trailer park person, screaming and tossing chairs around. Despite being a "reality" program that kind of behavior always felt so unreal to me. Those people were in on the joke, right?
When Jerry Springer and his show bowed quietly out of sight it was like the nation released a collective sigh of relief. "At last," we thought, "we can move on to more mature programming like The Bachelor, Celebrity Apprentice, and Jersey Shore." At least that was what I thought happened. But I guess I was wrong.
Because last week, while working at home and changing out of my gym clothes, I switched on the tv and there it was. Maury Povich doing a "who is the baby daddy?" themed show where people without jobs or anything useful to do except fornicate (badly--or well depending on how you look at it) yelled at one another. Actually, everyone yelled. The guests, the audience, it's just a whole bunch of people screaming profanities at one another.
Needless to say, I was surprised to see this. I thought we had moved on from this kind of thing. Maury just sits there with a little smile on his face and a "don't blame me" expression and that makes ME want to scream and throw chairs around. Because I have to wonder--who are these people? What are their lives like that they think going on this show is a good idea? Can they not afford the at home DNA kit? Do they have so little self-respect and self-worth that they think being on television makes them a good person? And is this really my fault (i.e. America's fault) for making this kind of culture and behavior ok? And how does Maury Povich deal with this kind of thing every single damn day?
I don't have any real answers here, just more questions. And a feeling of sadness that this kind of thing passes for entertainment. Maybe the people who watch these shows just feel better about themselves after seeing how messy the guests' lives are? Maybe being judgmental and smug and acting like the over-educated under-sexed East Coast liberal that I am makes ME feel better about myself? I don't know. But I do one thing--in my family we don't throw chairs. It's just rude.