Talk Shows


Talk Shows Essay, Research Paper

In the world of entertainment, TV talk shows have undoubtedly

flooded every inch of space on daytime television. Many of us have seen

and heard the often recycled topics found on such veteran shows as Geraldo

and Sally Jessy Raphael. And anyone who watches talk shows on a regular

basis knows that each one varies in style and format. One might enjoy

watching the sometimes trashy subject matter found on Jenny Jones, while

someone else might prefer the more serious and light hearted feel of the

Maury Povich show. But no two shows are more profoundly opposite in

content, while at the same time standing out above the rest, than the

Jerry Springer and the Oprah Winfrey show.

Jerry Springer could easily be considered the king of “trash

talk.” The topics on his show are as shocking as they get. For example,

the show takes the ever common talk show themes of love, lust, sex,

sexuality, adultery, cheating, guilt, hate,

conflict and morality to a different level. In a vintage Springer show,

one finds women who cheated on their boyfriends and are ready to confess.

But the boyfriends are in for a bigger surprise. As it turns out that all

the women haven’t been secretly seeing other guys, but seeing other women,

who also happen to be waiting backstage. Another episode tells of a John

Wayne Bobbit type case, but with a more twisted plot. A male cuts off his

own manhood because he claimed that his homosexual neighbor was stalking

him. Shocking, indeed, but the list of talk material goes on from

dangerous love triangles, broken homes, pregnant strippers, teenage

prostitutes, adult film stars, devil worshippers and the ever popular talk

show regulars, the members of the Ku Klux Klan. Clearly, the Jerry

Springer show is a display and exploitation of societies moral

catastrophes, yet people are willing to eat up the intriguing predicaments

of other peoples lives.

Oprah Winfrey was once a follower of the trash TV format, but her

long running popular TV talk show has since been reformed. Like Jerry

Springer, the Oprah Winfrey show takes talk TV to its extreme, but Oprah

goes in the opposite direction. Oprah is probably the most immaculate talk

show there is. It is unlikely that you will find guest on Oprah that have

committed adultery, have sold their souls to the devil, or are part of a

racist hate group. Instead, the show focuses on the improvement of society

and an individuals quality of life. Topics range from teaching your

children responsibility, managing your work week, proper etiquette,

getting to know your neighbors and entertaining interviews with

celebrities. Not many talk shows are interested in taking time to teach

children right from wrong, or give techniques to get along with people

better, but it seems that the Oprah shows top priority is to educate first

, and then entertain.

Compared to Oprah, the Jerry Springer show looks like toxic waste

being dumped on society. Still, there are times when Jerry Springer has

made an effort to help the troubled people on his show. The most notable

is when he has helped extremely obese people get to the hospital and help

them turn their lives around. The entire process is still taped for its

entertainment value, but at least something good came out of it. Jerry

also ends every show with a “final word.” He makes a small speech that

sums up the entire moral of the show. Hopefully, this is the part where

most people will learn something very valuable.

Even if Oprah is as squeaky clean as it is, the show is not for

everyone. The shows main target audience are working middle-class

Americans. A vast majority of these people usually have the time, money,

and stability to deal with life’s tougher problems. Jerry Springer, on the

other hand, has more of an association with the the young adults of

society. These are your 18 -21 year-olds whose main troubles in life

involve love, relationship, sex, pregnancy, money, peers and influence.

They are the ones who see some value and lessons to be learned underneath

the show’s exploitation.

While these two talk shows are as different as night and day, both

have ruled the talk show circuit for many years now. Each one caters to a

different audience while both have a strong following from legions of

fans. Ironically, both could also be considered pioneers in the talk show

world. Jerry Springer’s crude and vulgar topics may be looked down upon,

but no other talk show comes close to the raw exposure of its guest. Oprah

Winfrey was able to break away from the pack and create a unique and

highly successful talk show. Only time will tell if anyone follow in her

footsteps. Even as these to talk shows stand on opposite sides of the

spectrum, both have managed to stand alone to their highest extremes and

are considered the best at what they are.

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