After I graduated from high school I spent the summer doing absolutely nothing but watching TV, sleeping, and playing Nintendo. This was the summer I really discovered daytime talk shows.
Over the years I’ve watched them all. I cringed as Jerry Springer’s show grew increasingly offensive, I watched as Ricki Lake’s weight yo-yoed, hell I even watched Vanessa from The Cosby Show fail miserably. None of them can match “Maury”. I don’t know if it’s the fake concern for his guests, the veneer of real journalism (it’s very thin and mostly related to his father and wife) or the unbelievable situations the guests are in but Maury is often can’t miss TV.
I find it fascinating that people choose national TV to air their dirty laundry. On a recent episode a guy decided “Maury” was the right place for him to tell his long suffering fiancé that he was cheating on her with her best friend. Why subject somebody (and yourself) to that kind embarrassment? And why would the fiancé agree to this? Is the lure of 15 minutes of fame that strong? If my wife even suggests we go to Connecticut for a vacation I’m immediately filing for a divorce.
Another reason for watching the show, it’s just plain funny. A few times a week Maury trots out a woman, who alternates between anger and tears, to test a guy to see if he’s the father of her baby. From backstage he declares he’s not the father. Normally, it’s because the baby doesn’t look like him or all his babies have some similar feature that this baby doesn’t have. He comes out on stage and Maury coolly shakes his hand (if the accused father is black Maury offers a handshake and a hug).
They scream back and forth, she’s 1,000,000% sure he’s the dad and he’s sure she’s sleeping around. Then Maury grabs the envelope of life. The couple looks on nervously as Maury reads the results. If he’s not the father the woman runs backstage in tears while he celebrates on stage. Inevitably Maury rushes backstage to provide comfort and offer to continue the search for the real father (or higher ratings he sort of mumbles during the process so I’m never really sure what he’s offering). If he is the father the woman normally jumps up screaming, “I told you!” or does some sort of dance. When you see a 275lb woman do a split you just feel the urge to cheer, don’t you?
Sometimes a man finds out his lady has been cheating on him and their kid may be not his. Maury, in his most soothing voice complete with back rubbing, offers to the grieving father that he has a child in his house that he’s not the father of but he doesn’t love the child any less. That’s when I yell at the TV, “Um, Maury your kid is adopted. Connie didn’t cheat on you!” That’s when my wife yells, “Omar, turn this nonsense off!”
Between the paternity tests, the lie detector episodes (look, you’re not going to beat the machine just tell the truth), the morons who get caught in the green room with the sexy decoy (How could they not know, that it’s a trap?), and the abusive kids/spouses (seeing a loved one laying in a coffin is probably not going to create a long term change in abusive behavior. These people need help that even this show can’t provide) it’s clear that “Maury” is a daily Shakespearian tragic comedy. It has all the elements, a little drama, some painful character development and a whole lot of laughs. The show even has it’s every own CSI team.
I like to think that Freud would spend his days watching “Maury” as research. All races, colors and creeds make their way to the “Maury” stage. Freud would get a quicker understanding of the human condition by watching “Maury”. He would learn a lot about people by watching this show. For example, did you know that twins can have different fathers? Yep, I learned that from Maury. Of course these could really be justifications so I can continue to watch “Maury” with a clean conscience.