Compare and Contrast
In the world of entertainment, TV talk shows have undoubtedly flooded every inch of space on daytime television. Many of us have seen and heard the often recycled topics found on such shows as Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey. And anyone who watches talk shows on a regular basis knows that each one varies in style and format. One might enjoy watching the sometimes trashy subject matter found on Jerry Springer, while someone else might prefer the more serious and light hearted feel of the Oprah Winfrey show. But no two shows are more profoundly opposite in content.
Jerry Springer could easily be considered the king of trash talk. The topics on his show are as shocking as they get. For example, the show takes the ever common talk show themes of love, lust, sex, sexuality, adultery, cheating, guilt, hate, conflict and morality to a different level. In a vintage Springer show, one finds women who cheated on their boyfriends and are ready to confess. But the boyfriends are in for a bigger surprise. As it turns out that all the women haven’t been secretly seeing other guys, but seeing other women, who also happen to be waiting backstage. Another episode tells of a John Wayne Bobbit type case, but with a more twisted plot. A male cuts off his own manhood because he claimed that his homosexual neighbor was stalking him. Shocking, indeed, but the list of talk material goes on from dangerous love triangles, broken homes, pregnant strippers, teenage prostitutes, adult film stars, devil worshippers and the ever popular talk show regulars, the members of the Ku Klux Klan. Clearly, the Jerry Springer show is a display and exploitation of societies mora catastrophes, yet people are willing to eat up the intriguing predicaments of other peoples lives.
Oprah Winfrey was once a follower of the trash TV format, but her long running popular TV talk show has since been reformed. Like Jerry Springer, the Oprah Winfrey show takes talk TV to its extreme, but Oprah goes in the opposite direction. Oprah is probably the most immaculate talk show there is. It is unlikely that you will find guest on Oprah that have committed adultery, have sold their souls to the devil, or are part of a racist hate group. Instead, the show focuses on the improvement of society and an individuals quality of life. Topics range from teaching your children responsibility, managing your work week, proper etiquette, getting to know your neighbors and entertaining interviews with celebrities. Not many talk shows are interested in taking time to teach children right from wrong, or give techniques to get along with people better, but it seems that the Oprah shows top priority is to educate first, and then entertain.
Compared to Oprah, the Jerry Springer show looks like toxic waste being dumped on society. Still, there are times when Jerry Springer has made an effort to help the troubled people on his show. The most notable is when he has helped extremely obese people get to the hospital and help them turn their lives around. The entire process is still taped for its entertainment value, but at least something good came out of it. Jerry also ends every show with a final word. He makes a small speech that sums up the entire moral of the show. Hopefully, this is the part where most people will learn something very valuable.
Even if Oprah is as squeaky clean as it is, the show is not for everyone. The shows main target audience that are working middle-class Americans. A vast majority of these people usually have the time, money, and stability to deal with life’s tougher problems. Jerry Springer, on the other hand, has more of an association with the young adults of society. These are your 18 -21 year-olds whose main troubles in life involve love, relationship, sex, pregnancy, money, peers and influence. They are the ones who see some value and lessons to be learned underneath the show’s exploitation.
While these two talk shows are as different as night and day, both have ruled the talk show circuit for many years now. Each one caters to a different audience while both have a strong following from legions of fans. Ironically, both could also be considered pioneers in the talk show world. Jerry Springer’s crude and vulgar topics may be looked down upon, but no other talk show comes close to the raw exposure of its guest. Oprah Winfrey was able to break away and create a unique and highly successful talk show. Even as these to talk shows stand on opposite sides of the spectrum, both have managed to stand alone to their highest extremes and are considered the best at what they are.