I would like to make clear the parameters of this article, regarding what programs are considered to be part of humiliation television. These shows feature guests and situations that can either be scripted or true to life. In some cases, it is the intent of the producers to mask the true nature of the show. However, they all have this in common; the guests or antagonists are portrayed, through their actions, as contemptible human beings. They are only to be looked upon as creatures worthy, at best, of pity or worse to be scoffed and laughed at. They have one other important characteristic; they choose, due to certain incentives, to make public their failings, bad decisions and improper actions. This is done in the desire to “entertain” the viewing public.
The first type of reality show I would like to examine is the “Jerry Springer/ Maury Povich category.” Yes, these shows have been around for a while, but in recent years have spawned a host of imitators. I don’t include all talk shows (Oprah and Dr. Phil have their problems with authenticity and sincerity, but at least they attempt a semblance of caring about their guests). This type of talk television doesn’t even attempt to realistically disguise their intent, which is to provoke physical and emotional confrontations among those appearing on the shows.
These programs are such trash, with repugnant guests and subjects that don’t merit any sort of constructive criticism. How much of these shows content are real and not staged is unknown, but that really is beside the point. Removing and destroying any sense of shame and/or humanity among the guests is the order of the day.