Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Maury Povich: Yet another guilty pleasure

My 4th of July was pretty uneventful, but the rest of the weekend turned out pretty well. I had a BBQ Saturday night, played ultimate frisbee in DC on Sunday without getting hurt (but my knee hurt going upstairs afterward), and had some nice meals in between. Due to the always enjoyable DC road closures for the fireworks, my viewing plans went up in smoke (haha, or no?). So Monday was a real day to be a hermit. I had good intentions except our AC stopped working so things got a little hot in the apartment when I wasn't in front of my fan. Anyway, I got to indulge in the glory of daytime television and learned a few things.

First of all, daytime TV really sucks outside of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich. They provide great comic relief while making you feel better about yourself. Jerry's topics included: A woman suspects her boyfriend is cheating with her best friend; a man begs forgiveness for sleeping with his wife's stepmother; a woman suspects her man is messing around with her friend. He really knows how to get the best out of America. Once you realize how staged the show really is, you can begin to enjoy its lunacy and audience taunts. We know they're all paid to pretend they had affairs with their wife's stepmother, so why not enjoy this modern take on a classic Shakespearean play (though I'm not sure which one). Jerry's antics do get a little old by the second half-hour, but there isn't much competition in his time slot, unless you count the "Magic School Bus."

Unlike Springer, Maury's show really demands your attention the entire 60 minutes. I'm convinced the show's producers only use five topics: paternity tests revealed, is he or she a man or woman?, straighten up my out of control teen by sending him/her to boot camp, shocking secrets/affairs revealed, and some sort of makeover or make the guest feel better about themselves show.

Fortunately, Monday's episode was one of my favorite topics...paternity tests revealed. The swing of emotions is akin to the back-and-forth of great gladiator battles. Monday's show featured a husband and wife who didn't know if their son was really his or if it is from an affair she had a year earlier. Before finding out the results, the husband went off on the woman saying what you'd expect a cheated on person to say. Of course, on the flip side, he promised to be the father his father wasn't if the kid is in fact his. It's always good to berate someone when you're not sure if you really need to in the first place. The emotions really run the gamut. The results showed it was his kid so all was happy in Mauryland. Granted, much like Springer, there is some nice acting thanks to some cheap wigs and clearly odd couples that have never been together, but it's still fun.

I admit my favorite tests involve a woman who brings out at least 4 guys she thinks could be the child's father. Not only does this say a lot about the woman, but as each guy is found not to be the father, they make it a point to tell everyone what we're thinking about someone who brings that many people out. It may appear sad and in any normal and sane environment, I'd feel bad for the child, mother, and father, but the truth is, the whole scene is a sham which makes it safe and wholesome for the whole family. I take some comfort knowing it's all for show and is supposed to make me feel better about myself.

There's nothing like Schadenfreude - taking pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

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