When Game Shows Ruled Daytime TV

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The programme was a precursor to what would later inspire his ITV talk show, allowing listeners to call in with their relationship issues and dilemmas while he listened and offered advice. In July , Kyle was drafted in to host his own talk show on ITV following the departure of Trisha Goddard, who had her own morning programme on the channel.

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Reminiscent of The Jerry Springer Show in the US, it was an early hit for tackling issues around traditional family values, and was nominated for a National Television Award in in the most popular factual programme category. However, it also divided opinion among viewers for its fiery confrontations and rowdy format, with family members airing their dirty laundry on stage in front of an audience while Kyle would watch on.


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Kyle would act as mediator to his guests, being either gentle and kind or shouting at them to pull their lives together. He drew criticism for his hard-nosed style, but also won himself legions of fans for his tactics. In , Kyle took his programme over to the US to launch his programme Stateside, but it was cancelled the following year due to poor ratings. She married the stranger but they later split up and she got together with Kyle, marrying him in Presumably even their more socially progressive instructors, tutored in the doctrines of Derrida and Foucault, hesitate to go quite as far in their libertine enthusiasms as Jerry, who once broadcast a show on bestiality, featuring a young woman who had an affair with her dog and a man describing his five years of wedded bliss with a horse named Pixel.

Well, for one thing, it used to be even worse. But after intense pressure from critics, including Chicago religious figures, the show discontinued the mayhem—with great reluctance, since it was a ratings-grabber. Now guests merely try to get at each other, held apart as they flail away by a crew of massive guys, whose leader, Steve, has become another star of the program. Never mind that as he reads from the monitor, Springer radiates smarmy insincerity. Given the context, it says quite a bit that vice goes out of its way to pay tribute to virtue.

In important respects, it is far more real—and certainly more telling about the state of the culture—than the stuff that goes by that name in the evening. Nonetheless, even it, in its disturbing and often depressing way, is revealing. Talk about the other America! Generally speaking, though, daytime reality television gets more recognizably real as the day goes along. Trading largely in messy interpersonal relations, Maury likes to present himself as a seeker of truth. Among his staples: using a lie detector to determine if one party in a relationship, usually the guy, is guilty as accused of cheating he usually is.

WHEN GAME SHOWS RULED DAYTIME TV (SOFTCOVER EDITION) by Norm Blumenthal

The formula never varies. A woman, usually very young and very often black or Hispanic, comes onstage and declares, either angrily or tearfully, that she knows a given man fathered her child. If the woman finds herself vindicated, she is apt to leap to her feet, exultant, and berate the man. But there is also enough sociology at play to leave one feeling only slightly unclean. For what we are witnessing here are flesh-and-blood examples of underclass pathology.

The supply of accusers and accused seems inexhaustible. Nor, at least occasionally, does Povich try to hide his distress over what is unfolding before his cameras.

After Oprah leaves, daytime TV may never be the same again

So why would you sleep with him again? Yet from Maury there is never any real condemnation. Though the show pays lip service to the resurgent traditionalist virtue of accepting personal responsibility, the host often still seems to embrace the doctrine, so fashionable among post-sixties elites, that no sin is greater than passing judgment.

The same moral schizophrenia appears in the commercials between segments. Nearly half the ads are pitches for job training—in air-conditioning or automotive repair, say, or hairdressing or secretarial work. Of course, this neglect of marriage, too, is of a piece with contemporary elite attitudes, which not only tend to portray matrimony as confining but, with celebrity unwed mothers like Calista Flockhart in mind, often celebrate single motherhood as a valid alternative life-style—as if the decision of an unmarried Hollywood starlet to have a child is remotely akin to that of a year-old girl in the South Bronx.

The Times editorial board might well take a few mornings off to watch Maury. More than a few, in fact, are bright and charming. B ut if Povich tends to avoid passing judgment, daytime television from late morning into the afternoon now offers an array of other personalities whose job is to judge: the TV judges ruling on real cases in their courtroom sets.

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In recent years, these judge shows have proliferated at an astonishing rate. These shows provide yet another snapshot of latter-day American culture and mores—and not an especially pretty one, since it reveals a culture in considerable ethical disarray. Though this ethical breakdown is not exactly news, these shows powerfully demonstrate the degree to which moral laxity can wreak havoc in individual lives. For though the TV judges vary a good deal in personal style, in the end what they share is of vastly greater importance: each is an unapologetic advocate of old-fashioned, no-excuses, responsible behavior.

Indeed, in their judicial robes, dispensing commonsense justice between commercial breaks, they are probably the closest many Americans come to having authority figures in their lives.

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And though the shows are entertaining, each judge clearly takes his or her educative role extremely seriously. Anyone who comes before her court who has failed to behave well—whether by ignoring a contract or just fudging the truth—can expect the fourth degree, often followed by a dose of withering sarcasm or outright scorn.

It seemed that after the cop had stopped the attractive and self-assured woman for speeding, she let it drop that her father was himself an officer, recently retired. She got her ticket. Talk about foolish!


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Did they have no idea who they were dealing with? The storm swiftly broke. Judge Judy, her voice dripping contempt, tore into the three of them. What did they think she was, stupid?! In a world too much at ease with debased standards, her willingness to call rotten behavior precisely what it is, without the slightest patience for the excuses and rationalizations so commonly heard, is intensely bracing.

In presentation, the two judges could hardly be more dissimilar.