The Oddness of Dr. Phil

I rather like Dr. Phil. I'm not a huge fan of talkshows in general, but I don't particularly mind them in the "universe is coming to an end" kind of way. In college, society is always about to implode due to reality television or Oprah or the "dumbing down of America" or whatever. I think this is hokey. What amazes me about Dr. Phil isn't the host, what amazes me are the guests.

When I used to listen to Dr. Laura, I felt similarly about her guests. Why are these people calling up so they can be yelled at? I would know within three seconds of any call what Dr. Laura was going to say. But it seemed like every guest was surprised--THEIR circumstances were different! Followed by another five minutes of the guest saying, "Yeah - but -" and Dr. Laura laying down the law. Why do people expose themselves like this?

However, radio is somewhat person-less; there's a literal AND figurative facelessness--but on T.V., there are the guests, don't ya know, all faceful and angsty and THERE.

And to make it even weirder, you have people like the lady who wishes she could "let herself go" in bed and the woman who doesn't want her neighbors to know how imperfect she is and people who are ashamed of their looks (actually that was on Oprah)--anyway, people who declare that nothing on earth will get them to reveal themselves to others except . . . they are on T.V.! Go figure. (It's hard not to suspect that the beautiful people who fear being looked at are just vain egomaniacs.)

I've decided that for many people, T.V. isn't real or is so glamorous it overcomes any reservations. But I actually go more with the first--that the little actress/actor in all of us kicks in on T.V.: a distance develops between the audience and the people on stage. And, as well, there's a hope that this--THIS appearance--will fix them, which is a debatable point. I once knew a therapist who believed that counseling was useless until the person/family was ready to change because otherwise, it was just a lot of talk. So, I suppose Dr. Phil's guests could see their attendance on the show as the last hurdle, the decision that now, finally, things will get better; and I suppose other guests just like their ten minutes of fame and will return to the same old same old patterns.


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