Episode 29 – Maury

 

This episode: Maury, “Greatest Hits” according to the Nosey app curators.  Watch it on Nosey.

Next episode: My Super Sweet 16: Season 1, Eps. 1, 3, 5-6, Season 5, Eps. 1, 7, 9, and Season 10, Eps. 1-3, 5-7.  Watch it on Hulu.

This month ‘THE RESULTS ARE IN!’ for our listener’s choice poll on trashy talk TV and the masses (all one of you) cried out for us to discuss the long-running and infamous Maury Povich show.  It was particularly fitting as JS had some teenage nostalgia, but will it carry through?

Turns out after opening the envelope that the answer is no…as JS found the show to be crushing whereas Mike channeled his deep-seated reservoir of inner cold-heartedness and stunted empathy to more or less manage to enjoy the spectacle.

That being said, we had a pretty lively discussion about the show’s tone and worldview, particularly in comparison to its contemporaries like Jerry Springer, and how this show uses ‘science’ in an interesting way to center its conflicts over paternity and infidelity (and what that may say about its place in our overall culture).  We then discuss an interesting graduate thesis outlining the genre’s history and its particular emphasis on social class, both regarding its participants and its viewers (and which also has your humble podcast hosts dead to rights).  Finally, we end on an analysis of the various chicanery the production team utilizes to cajole its audience and guests into their preferred narratives and discuss the show’s viewership demographics and offer a theory of its overall appeal.

Show Notes and Links

1:14 / Giving our podcast a paternity test

1:53 / Introducing this month’s show

2:38 / The episodes we covered and their unclear provenance

4:36 / The “very, very high” concept and structure of this show

7:40 / Asking JS about his ‘Maury Memories’ (we repeatedly reference Jerry Springer, here and throughout the episode)

8:42 / How JS’s experience for the show differed from his recollection

10:05 / JS didn’t enjoy himself as much the second time around

10:41 / Mike’s impressions of the show (he had never seen it before)

11:38 / The epitome of a ‘guilty pleasure’ for Mike and an uncomfortable experience for JS

12:37 / Comparing this to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in terms of its repetition

13:30 / Does this have a narrative?  Opinions differ.  (The Grantland article Mike mentions throughout the show; Mike also mentions the Greek playwright Aristophanes)

14:24 / How the tone of the show evolved over time (Mike mentions The Phil Donahue Show)

15:39 / Comparing the tone of this to Jerry Springer (some clips from the I Married A Horse episode in this YouTube reaction video, the episode with Justin Pearson)

17:11 / What is and isn’t authentic in this show

18:11 / Talking about the ‘Double DNA test’ segment

19:30 / There was a correlation between how authentic the show got and how uncomfortable it was

20:10 / Coming back to the worldview and comparing it with Springer – small ‘c’ conservatism in a tawdry package (our discussion of this in Episode 1)

22:45 / JS was shocked at the longevity of this show, went in thinking that he was going to watch something from the 90’s

24:24 / Mike thinks there’s something about daytime television that lends itself to long-running formulas (mentions a bunch of shows: Divorce Court, Geraldo, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones, Steve Wilkos, Trisha Goddard)

25:47 / Segueing into the role of polygraphs and paternity tests – ‘moment of truth’

27:11 / Discussing the reliability (or lack thereof) of polygraph tests – in contrast to their presentation on the show

29:35 / People don’t want to hear about uncertainty and probability – they want ‘The Truth’

30:10 / Mike goes on a digression about the fetishization of DNA in modern American culture (he mentions recent cold cases in DNA testing, a lawsuit over ancestry and affirmative action, and Spotify DNA playlists – this was before Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test or else we probably would have mentioned that too – guess she should have listened to this segment!)

31:44 / The difference between ancestry and culture and how we often blur the distinction

33:02 / Mike segues to a comparison in terms of paternity DNA tests not being ‘family relationship’ tests

34:23 / JS pushes back a little, mentions that nature as well as nurture can be an influence on someone even if identity through DNA has been fetishized

35:20 / JS found the ‘paternity’ segments easier to stomach given the more solid foundations of the science

36:11 / Mike agrees that you have some heritable qualities, but not much outside of certain medical conditions can be discerned from a test – his critique of the show’s use of them is its implication that the ‘truth’ of paternity will necessarily lead to the building of a social relationship

37:41 / Mike’s difficulties in finding an article and our continuing plunder of the free labor of graduate students

38:52 / Introducing this month’s thesis: “Hate Watching Trash TV: Intersections of Class and Anti-Fandom” by Milena Stanoeva of York University (Ontario), which was submitted in August 2016

39:58 / The origin and evolution of the ‘talk show’ from social issues to ‘trash TV’ (Mike mentions “freak shows” and Oprah Winfrey’s show)

41:10 / Talk show as meeting between middle class values and lower class emotionalism; how different viewers process the shows based on social class

42:04 / The host as the stand-in for the white middle class – calm, rational, objective, interested in ‘the truth’ – as opposed to the mostly African-American and lower-class guests

43:20 / Applying this analysis to Maury and the larger ‘therapeutic’ scaffolding of the ‘show experts’ (Mike namedrops Foucault obligatorily)

44:52 / JS thought the ‘carnival’ comparison was compelling (Mike mentions the Jerry Springer movie Ringmaster).

46:02 / Mike mentions the audience demographics (low-income, 50% African-American) and theorizes that this show functions as a form of social distancing in addition to being a conduit of middle class respectability

48:00 / Mike describes the process for recruiting participants and how this gives producers the ability to shape the narrative (A round-up of all the dirt is here)

48:47 / How the production crew manipulates the audience and the guests to respond in predetermined ways (One blogger describes being in the audience here)

50:38 / The guest monologues reminded Mike of Divorce Court

51:40 / JS brings us back to our success/failure dichotomy and our Diners comparison

53:51 / Mike enjoyed the show, even though he knew it was horribly unethical, because he’s a terrible person

54:32 / JS thinks being a parent has made him more emotionally vulnerable, which made him more negatively affected by this show (Our Toddlers and Tiaras episode)

56:16 / Mike’s weak justification – they all signed up for this

57:08 / Updates to availability for shows from previous episodes: 90 Day Fiance and Foxy Ladies

58:34 / Another episode with Dave is on the way: My Super Sweet 16!

58:59 / JS’s next pick – Season 1 of the MTV show Catfish

1:00:27 / The usual announcements: contact us, rate/review, and subscribe

Episode 14 – Snooki and JWoww: Moms with Attitude

 

This week’s discussion: Snooki and JWoww: Moms with Attitude, Season 1, Eps. 1-12, 39-40. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

Next week’s discussion: Toddlers and Tiaras, Season 7, Eps. 1-5. Watch it on Hulu.

Our Listener’s Choice poll results are in and we listened to the masses (all two of them) who decided they wanted us to watch the Jersey Shore spin-off Snooki and JWoww: Moms with Attitude, a webseries that originally appeared over the go90 streaming service.

We begin by discussing the show’s interesting ‘YouTube’ style form factor and whether it worked for us.  Then we segue into the show’s relationship with its famous progenitor and how the personas of the two hosts has evolved, linking that evolution to broader themes of aging and maturity.  We also talk about the show’s interesting blend of traditional domesticity with an MTV ‘edge’ as well as its relationship to its target demographic of ‘millennial moms’ and how its themes of parenthood and family life connected with us.  Additionally, we discuss issues of social class and praise the show’s minimalist production and apparent unvarnished nature, linking it to earlier discussions of the appeal of authenticity in reality television.

Show Notes and Links

1:30 / Introducing this week’s show

2:46 / Our experiences with Jersey Shore

4:20 / Talking about the history behind the show (Mike mentions the MTV Snooki and JWoww and go90)

6:32 / The concept and different episode types

8:52 / Talking about the show’s form factor

10:47 / Mike compares show to the ‘YouTuber’ phenomenon

11:46 / Discussing the minimalistic production (Article about the webseries that Mike mentioned)

13:49 / Returning to the form factor (Our Monica the Medium episode is here)

15:37 / Segueing to the target demographic for the show (Awestruck Entertainment; the JWoww and Roger webseries)

17:22 / Talking about the show’s aesthetic (‘not a mothering show for your mother’)

18:52 / Our view of the hosts and their evolution since Jersey Shore

21:55 / Discussing whether you should curse in front of your kids

23:01 / Coming back to the hosts and how they’ve changed since Jersey Shore

24:46 / This show’s relation to the previous one; acknowledgement mixed with distance

25:45 / Mike tries to explain Jersey Shore’s relationship to other reality shows to JS (We mention TOWIE and The Real World; Snooki’s arrest)

27:45 / How this show is indicative of shifting depictions of millennials as they age and settle down

29:02 / Why Mike thinks the perennial complaint of ‘kids these days’ is misguided

30:15 / Show also chronicles the cultural shifts around parenting that have occurred as millennials have become parents

30:44 / The show was stronger because they didn’t try to rehash Jersey Shore and showed the maturity and change of the hosts

32:36 / Briefly touching on the affluent lifestyle depicted in the show

33:35 / Does this show connect with fathers as well as mothers?

35:45 / Discussing the show as a ‘feminine’ space and how its views on gender roles and domesticity are actually surprisingly traditional

37:50 / The ‘non-traditional’ nature of the hosts made the show interesting

38:28 / Mike appreciated the depiction of family life, which managed to be a nice portrait that didn’t feel like a Hallmark card

39:12 / Segueing into the authentic nature of the show (We mention the ‘Facebook wall phenomenon’)

41:03 / Mike’s nostalgia for the characters, returns to idea of reality TV as ‘hanging out’ (our Keys episode is here, NYT profile of Snooki during her Jersey Shore days)

41:57 / JS appreciated the lack of product placement and their honesty in their product reviews

43:07 / Returning to the topic of social class and its relation to the show’s target demographic

46:17 / Closing with discussion of the appealing nature of the show’s authenticity

49:01 / The fact that this wasn’t done by a huge MTV production crew made the show feel more authentic and less produced

50:25 / Introducing the next show

52:08 / Announcements: contact us, rate and review us, and subscribe (Also, we have a Facebook page that Mike forgot to mention)