Shows That Exploit Naive and Borderline Ignorant Folks

December 21, 2011  |  
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We are all bound to be naive about one thing or another, many times over. After all, naivete is the natural companion to “no one knows everything.” For instance, I have no idea how many licks it really takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop. And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.

Ignorance, furthermore, is more debilitating. What’s fascinating is that you don’t have to do anything to be ignorant. In fact, the less you do, the better you get at it. It’s a popular choice for many. Which is why ignorance is one of the most debilitating human qualities plaguing life on the planet.

But if you’re a television executive, there’s money to be made in showcasing the depths of character that exists in all the blissfully ignorant people out there. Who else would sell their privacy and their good name for a ticket to New York to appear on Maury Povich.

Here’s a roundup of TVs guiltiest pleasures:

The Maury Povich Show aka Maury aka “Not the father”

King of the baby-daddy test results, Maury is responsible for the vilest displays of copulation ever broadcast on daytime television. It set standards for poor parenting and personal responsibility. One of the show’s guests made the “Gettin’it Book of Hood Records” for falsely accusing the most men of fathering her baby.

Maury tried to clean up his act by hosting a show with Connie Chung back in 2005, but after 5 months, it was canceled for lack of ignorant content. Maury has been on air since 1991.

The Jerry Springer Show

Grand poobah of smut, Jerry Springer, has a long career of salacious activity, dating back to the days he resigned from the Cincinnati City Council, after news broke out that he hired a prostitute.

Springer’s honesty about paying for sex was the charm that won his seat back in 1975, everyone chanting, “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry.” Cincinnati even went on to elect Jerry Mayor in 1977. Clearly a man of the (ignorant) people.

The Jerry Springer Show began with a political bent, even hosting Jesse Jackson in the early days. The mid-90’s brought a new format, aimed at herding more viewers. Well-educated, non-accented, suit-wearing fuddy duddies were out; minimally educated, chair-throwing, snaggle-tooth types were in.

Score.

COPS

Launched in 1989, COPS is the longest running reality show on TV today. The format is simple. (1) Chase down a petty criminal, preferably one without a shirt, (2) Drive around commenting on trivial investigations, disturbing folks who never ask for a warrant, (3) Drive around some more while reflecting on TV-worthy crime. All in a good days work.

Not accounting for taste, the show has been nominated for an Emmy three times and won the American Television Award in 1993.

Cheaters

The world’s full of cheaters, people stepping out on his or her main squeeze for some side action. Some of your favorite songs are based on this very concept. It’s a common, and personal problem. One you’re not proud of. Unless of course, you’re festering with ignorance.

If that’s the case, then you’re a prime player on Cheaters, a show that gives you a stage to put your relationship problems on blast. Who would want to make as spectacle of the lowest point of her romantic relationship? Enough people to bring Cheaters into it’s twelfth season in September 2011.

The Jeremy Kyle Show

Newcomer from across the pond, Jeremy Kyle, rolls The Jerry Springer Show and Maury all into one, with a host that has an authentic British accent. The Jeremy Kyle Show is so successful at glorifying spontaneous fighting, irresponsible child-rearing and popcorn worthy theatrics that a US-version has started production in New York City.

Geraldo

Geraldo Rivera began his career as a hard hitting TV journalist, with an impressive track record for getting the scoop first. But Rivera always had an eye for salacious news. His investigations brought to light Elvis Presley’s true cause of death as a drug overdose in 1977.

His TV show established his brand for shock and awe journalism. For many, Geraldo led the charge in on-screen brawls. In 1988 during a widely publicized incident, Geraldo Rivera broke his nose in a fight that broke out between his guests, which included racist skinheads, anti-racist skinheads, jewish and black activists.

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