I watched my first episode of The Jerry Springer Show today. Not the full episode, but I tuned in randomly about halfway in, and, well, I did not change the channel until it was over.
The guest was a young black man who lived with his girlfriend and her mother. He said he was on the show to reveal that he had been cheating on his girlfriend with a friend of hers. Also, he had (bleep)ed the mother. Apparently, the mother had been giving him a hard time for not helping out enough around the house, so he opted to earn his keep by (bleep)ing her. He seemed to enjoy talking about it.
They then brought in the girlfriend to confront her man. She was quite angry. He told her she was too bossy and never listened to him. Also, he said she was violent. Jerry asked if that was true. She admitted to having thrown things at him and maybe stabbing him, but she explained that she couldn't control that.
Then the mother came in and got yelled at by her daughter. The mother said her daughter should have listened to her when she told her before that this guy was no good. She said the daughter wouldn't listen to her, even though she only wanted daughter not to end up like mother. As for why she let the guy (bleep) her, the mother said it "just happened."
The friend--the one the guy had been cheating on his girlfriend with--was then brought in. Almost immediately, the two young women started shoving one another. Somewhere a bell rang, and the audience began chanting "Je-rry! Je-rry!"
After a commercial break, audience members were allowed to make comments at the guests. A blonde lady, speaking to the mother, said that a mother is supposed to take care of her kids. Then the blonde lady flashed the audience and said, "I want my (bleep)," whereupon someone threw beads at her.
Finally, Jerry made some closing remarks. He was sharp, eloquent, generally perceptive.
The show was pretty much everything I would have expected it to be, based on all I'd heard about it during its period of immense popularity some fifteen years ago. Maybe the fighting was tamer than at the show's peak. Mostly, the experience made me wonder how the show was such a sensation in the first place--enough of a trending topic that, even though I had never seen the show itself, I could recognize and understand the constant references to it on the prime-time and late-night shows that I did watch. I was only watching it now because I'm unemployed. Was there a period of widespread unemployment some fifteen years ago that similarly led huge numbers of people to tune in during the day?