Letterman...Ricki Lake... Jerry Springer... Rosie O'Donnell...Queen Latifah...
Williams... Jenny Jones... Donny & Marie... Oprah.
It seems that,
in America at least, audiences display an endless desire for TV talk. As
these shows are cheap and easy to produce (a presenter, a research team,
an array of bizarre guests plus a studio audience) TV companies are happy
to meet that demand. They seem to fulfil a very basic human need, technically
known as "downward comparison" (ie comparing yourself with ppl
you think are less pretty/thin/rich/intelligent/socially skilled/well-dressed
than you are).
...talk shows are a popular vehicle and may satisfy
viewers' needs to feel better about themselves. Self-enhancement,
or feeling better about oneself and one's life, may be one of the
primary reasons people watch what some consider to be "trashy" TV
-Frisby, C. M (1997, December). "WHEN
BAD THINGS HAPPEN:" THE SELF-ENHANCING EFFECT OF WATCHING TELEVISION
the main US (or UK) channels around 10am on a weekday morning and all you
will find is talk. These shows (and their hosts) are intensely competitive,
constantly seeking to provoke, amuse and outrage their audiences more than
their rivals. New shows are continually being launched, fronted by a bewildering
array of ex-politicians, movie actors, comedians, pop stars and career presenters,
and just as frequently being cancelled when they fail to hold their audience
are an important part of TV programming. They are relatively cheap to produce,
and,in taking humanity as their subject, have a seemingly inexhaustible
supply of new material. As they are filmed live or as live, they will never
knowingly repeat themselves, and have the vital-for-TV spice of spontaneity.
They are supposedly unscripted and unpredictable, and audiences watch them
to see what happens, to see what guests will say, and these audiences will
tune in day after day, week after week.
are two types of talk shows. The first type involve a presenter plus celebrity
guests, who appear singly or in pairs to talk about current events/movies/books/scandals
etc. These are generally well-behaved affairs - often the celebrity guest
approves a list of questions beforehand - and the atmosphere can be one
of backslapping and bonhomie, although the very best presenters do gain
a reputation for sly digs at their guests. These shows usually have a regular,
daily, evening slot, and purport to reflect what is going on in the world,
with "hot" guests, and cynical humour. The most famous of these
at the different guests lined up daily for each show. These three presenters
are highly-paid celebrities themselves, and all have their own style - Larry
King is more hard-edged and political.
of talk show is important for TV programming for the evenings. A whole
schedule can be built around a show eg The Letterman Show as it has
a guaranteed audience, and will provide original viewing on a daily
basis. A talk show of this sort will attract viewers both on the strength
of its host and on the topicality and interest of its guests. What makes
a good evening talk show? Create your own fantasy talk show by clicking
the button on the right.
type of talk show does not involve celebrity guests, although the presenters
may be celebrities and have become brand names in their own right. These
are "issue-based" talk shows, where the research team trawl the
population for guests who have a unique contribution to make on such subjects
as "I Stole My Daughter's Man" or "I'm Too Fat To Fly".
These shows purport to deal with the reality of human existence, and provide
a forum (involving contributions from the presenter, guests, members of
the studio audience and telephone callers) for the discussion of what is
wrong with humanity. Some TV Talk shows claim to help people; by airing
problems both viewers and guests may have a chance of catharsis. However,
the most popular shows are those which contain fighting...
worry that talk shows present a corrupt, distorted view of American life,
and that they encourage violence and aggression. They are also accused of
exposing people's private lives for the sake of entertainment and of making
guests emotional problems worse. Some talk show hosts have been sued by
their guests for invasion of privacy. The Jenny Jones Show was charged with
responsibility for murder after Scott Amedure was shot by Jonathan Schmitz
after they had both been guests on the show in 1995. Although this charge
was thrown out, Amedure's family successfully brought a civil case against
the show and were awarded US$25million. Read about the issues
here or visit a CyberMemorial.
talk shows are considered filler tv ie they are cheap and easy to
produce and can fill up large parts of the daytime tv schedule.
More to come, this is still
(for a listing of the main US shows' sites)
Jerry Springer Official Website - "meet Jerry", and suggest
a topic for a future show...
About Jerry Springer
Married A Horse'- Morality In The Media on this particular episode
- an excellent site, all the details you need to know, plus a virtual
tour of the studio
Lake Show - lots of interactive stuff
To Appear on A Daytime Talk Show - it's more difficult than you may
Trash - A Defence of Talk Shows by Camille Paglia
Nicer Future of TV Talk?
profile of Letterman