WEB EXCLUSIVE: Daytime TV is a showcase for society’s downfall

It’s official: I am slowly becoming a daytime TV addict.

Most of you well know that summer is generally a time to catch up on missed sleep, good reads and ignored friends. For many of us, summer is also the time to earn some cash working far more hours than we could ever fit into a regular school semester.

But for me, summer has afforded me an opportunity to get in touch with Dr. Phil.

Never being one to buy into the daytime TV hype, I scoffed when many of my friends would extol the virtues of the now larger-than-life media shrink.

That is, until I started tuning in to see what all the fuss was about.

Think Jerry Springer is where the real nut-jobs surface? Think again. While Springer has been known to showcase the “sophisticationally challenged” in a variety of forums – my transvestite lover is cheating on me, my husband is a prostitute and, of course, I’m in love with a stripper – it seems from watching a few of Dr. Phil’s spell-bounding TV-help sessions that the real mental cases reside in upper-middle class America. That’s right folks: Suburbia is full of sick little secrets. “Desperate Housewives” looks tame in comparison to the Oprah prot‚g‚’s popular show.

Most journalists, if you get them good and drunk (which really isn’t that hard – we have one of the highest career/alcoholism rates around the world) will admit to choosing the profession because they’re voyeurs. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than peeking into society’s seedy underbelly and exposing it to the general public. After all, why stew in your own drama when other people’s drama is so much more interesting?

Forget the chair-throwing, boob-flashing excitement of Springer – for pure voyeurism, watch Dr. Phil’s real-life characters bring to light the real problems with today’s society.

With his down-home charm and charming Southern colloquialisms – for example, I was so broke when I was younger, I was what “poor” wanted to be when it grew up – Dr. Phil embraces his guests’ foibles and disgusting revelations with tact and patience.

Sometimes.

Do you remember the now-famous presidential debate between Al Gore and President George W. Bush, where Gore stepped from behind his podium to the front of the stage as if he was going to give ol’ Georgie five across the eyes?

I do – because I see it replayed almost every episode of Dr. Phil.

While his behemoth stature may intimidate some guests as he stands before the audience, nothing scares the crap out of me worse than when he leans toward a guest with an almost menacing expression on his face.

Because sometimes, I swear to God, you can almost hear him thinking: “I’d love to just smack the cornhusks out of this moron right now.”

Fess up, Phillie, you’re dying to just land a sucker-punch on the husband who claims his wife is a control freak, but loses his temper if she so much as buys a pack of gum without his approval. And what about the wives who are having office affairs because their husbands simply don’t excite them anymore? I’ll bet your hand starts itching, because I know mine does.

So kudos to you, Dr. Phil – you have truly shown that one can keep their cool, even in the face of the most reprehensible creatures in society. Now if you could just throw out some beads.

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]