Addicting Train Wreck Tabloid Talk Shows & Reality TV


Tabloid talk shows: Maury, Jerry Springer, & Steve Wilkos

Once upon a time there was a Jewish-born man who in his adult years (1962-1983) made his career as a news anchor. This Emmy award winner and son of a well-respected Washington Post sportswriter would later see a 17-year marriage come to an end because of a little yellow fever that would spark a new relationship with the daughter of a Chinese diplomat and the first woman and very fist Asian to co-anchor the CBS Evening News. They would go on to marry after dating for seven years and have two biological daughters and one adopted son.

Once upon a time there was a London-born man who would emigrate with his parents to Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, where he and his sister would be raised in a modest four-bedroom apartment. He would get his bachelor’s degree in political science and later his J.D. from Northwestern University. His love for politics wasn’t enough to land him a seat in Congress, but he was elected to city council in 1971. He would then be fired for soliciting a prostitute in 1974 but then would re-elected again a year later. He would then serve a year’s term as a city mayor.

Once upon a time there was a Chicago-born man whose mother was a beauty school instructor and his father a police officer. He would get inspired to follow his father’s footsteps and become a police officer himself after serving seven years (1982-1989) in the United States Marine Corps. He would later marry a TV show producer and land a security job on that particular television show. His no-nonsense personality, call it “once a Marine always a Marine” or his days being a cop, and cult-like following resulted in his own television show. Repeatedly receiving high ratings, he’s been on-air since 2007.

If you haven’t already guessed, story number one is none other than Maury Povich, story number two is Gerald Norman “Jerry” Springer and number three is new kid on the block Steve Wilkos. You can squirm and skew your face all you want and talk a bunch of shit, namely that these talk shows that run back-to-back on CW are nothing more than garbage for the brain and soul. Regardless of what you say, there’s a reason they’re still on air today. Don’t be like some snobby film buffs, who like to claim that they only watch intellectual and thought-provoking scripted story lines with great character development, and that they’d rather shoot themselves than watch reality TV or tabloid talk shows. Hey reality shows, regardless of how ghetto, make a boat load of money. Just ask Survivor creator, producer and writer Charlie Parsons.

You can’t really ask former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman because the idiot has been incarcerated for almost three years, accused by Mexican authorities of strangling his wife to death in 2010 during a Cancun vacation. He admitted to screwing various chicks and having multiple marital affairs behind his wife’s back, and he also admitted to arguing with her the night she was killed. Now, ironically, he is trying to survive living in a Mexican prison without the support of any family or friends because no one has visited him in the last three years. Hmmm, I wonder where they are now, I am sure they were supportive and all when he was helping one of the most financially lucrative reality shows out there or maybe they’ve even asked him for a favor, to help Pimp my ride as he is also the producer of this MTV reality show. Looks like the adage is true that you find out real fast who your true friends are or which family will stand by you when the shit hits the fan.

Now alleged murderer/reality TV producer Bruce Beresford-Redman is trying to see the silver lining in his situation and bank off of his real life survivor story, as he’s now been doing his own video-series of his experience in a Mexican prison. Wow, the dude is always coming up with interesting material to produce, even banking off of being locked up, a video diary of his life surviving a Mexican prison for CBS News- 48 hours. He explains in his video diary, “My existence here has been a very basic struggle to simply survive,” and then continues to admit that, “for many years I worked in reality TV. And the reality of reality television even at its best, it’s a world that’s created. Being in here is real. It is real and it really sucks.”

First of all, duh! Of course reality television is somewhat if not totally scripted. People are “guided” to say or do what is necessary to move the story along and even respond to audience wishes. Producers create drama and situations to capitalize on a potential train-wreck for a thirsty audience to drink up. Secondly, if indeed Redman killed his wife…um….your situation should suck, dude. You strangled the mother of your children after you also cheated on her numerous times and now you complain that your conditions in a Mexican prison is not up to par with your usual five-star resort experience? You should have thought twice before strangling her to death. Explain to us why some random (and phantom) person in Mexico would want to strangle your wife without motive, interestingly enough after she got into a fight with you, her “poor” imprisoned husband, and then the next day she is found dead in a sewer. Even the Mexican authorities had enough sense to determine there was probable cause.

Beresford-Redman’s video diary comes across quite narcissistic, and honestly watching it I felt zero pity for the bastard. I mean, he complains on that prison “is noisy, and it’s smelly, and it’s hot and cramped.” Well, what do you expect? You’re in prison accused of murdering your wife! If there were any other suspects I imagine they would be in prison also awaiting trial. Prison is not supposed to be Disneyland; it’s not supposed to be fun. And the producer in Redman knows people eat video diaries like his up, that people love watching shit like some famous ex-producer now behind bars filming the entire experience. It’s real-life “Survivor,” and what a great spin that is. Who knows? He might even get off, even if he did kill his wife. Maybe the video will make him more human and the judge will pity him or his celebrity status will have some pull with the judge.

You see it doesn’t matter if you find reality TV or shows and tabloid talk shows like Springer, Wilkos, and Maury to be the worst type of television programming to ever happen to America. It needs to be taken at face value, the media banking off of ghetto behavior. It’s cheap to film and, guess what? It makes money, and lots of it.

And millions of people watch these shows. It’s hard to not watch, especially if you’re at the gym. I personally enjoy watching Wilkos, Springer, and Maury while on the treadmill. As a matter of fact, I’ve extended my time on the treadmill a few times, doing a little over an hour and a half of cardio in a sitting, just to watch if “so and so” passed the lie detector test or if “what’s-his-face” is the biological father and who’s going to throw the first punch. Call it garbage. Call it whatever you want, but the audience eats it up like the ancient masses would when rooting for one gladiator to kill the other.

Everyone loves train wrecks, those wacky and fucked up situations that no matter how dysfunctional they can be impossible to turn away from. You watch the first 5 minutes and you are hooked. Those who have no tolerance for “crazy” will likely change the channel immediately. But, a good majority of folks regardless of age, education, economic status and ethnicity enjoy the raunchy and outrageous. Even Bruce Beresford-Redman is banking off of a potential murder sentence, as he found a way to film it.

If you want to be a hater, go on and hate. But, Steve Wilkos, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, and 99.9 percent of most, if not, all reality shows are successfully laughing all the way to the bank.

About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

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