Series / Dr. Phil

"What gives you the right to imprison your wife in the basement?"
— Dr. Phil, addressing a typical guest

Dr. Phil is a reality/talk television show hosted by Phil McGraw. After McGraw's success with his segments on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil debuted on September 16, 2002. On both shows McGraw offers advice in the form of "life strategies" from his life experience as a clinical psychologist.

The show is in syndication throughout the United States and a number of other countries. The show's syndication contracts specifically state that if Dr. Phil is on another station, it cannot air at the same time as Oprah. Its eighth season premiered on September 14, 2009. The show is to be renewed through 2014, or twelve seasons. Occasional prime time specials have aired on CBS. The program has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award every year since 2004.

Since September 8, 2008, Dr. Phil has been broadcast in HDTV with a revamped look and a new theme written and performed by McGraw's son, Jordan. He also produces another show with Jordan, The Doctors, a medical talk show competing with The Doctor Oz Show. As with Oprah, both shows are contracted so that they can't air at the same time if on different networks.

This TV show provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Dr. Phil once brought in the creator of the infamous Bumfights movies. Halfway during the intro package, he cut it off in disgust and threw the guy out of his studio.
  • Big Eater: Dr. Phil has dealt with several obese guests in recent years. In an inversion, one show also had him talking to grown adults who ate only one food day after day (i.e., French fries).
    • In at least two other inversions, Dr. Phil has featured anorexic or bulimic guests. This includes an entire special on eating-disordered boys, and a show featuring a woman so anorexic and bulimic that she could barely function onstage.
  • Bigot vs. Bigot: "The Dr. Phil House." A skinny girl who hates fat people living with a morbidly obese man who hates skinny people! A black racist living with a white racist! A redneck homophobe living with a butch heterophobe!
    • For the most part it was successful, except for the fat guy.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: At least twice. As per the norm, they were extreme versions of the trope.
  • Catch Phrase: "How's that working for you?" comes up quite a lot.
  • Captain Obvious: At times. It should be obvious to anyone that it's not okay to beat your children daily.
  • Confession Cam
  • Dating Service Disaster: He has featured several women who are victims of dating website scams. Many of them are variations of the typical 419 Scam, with the women sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to men who they have never met or seen, or even talked on the phone with. These women typically are complete idiots, with Dr. Phil having to show them that the guys are scams through basic things they should've been able to figure out.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Dr. Phil compared a man who has lots of piercings and body modifications to his other guest that episode, a drunken idiot who does extreme sports for no reason and constantly breaking his limbs for funzies.
  • Ill Girl: The parents of an extremely lazy, irresponsible twenty-year-old tried to use this trope as an excuse for her behavior. Dr. Phil called them on it, pointing out that there was little to no medical evidence for the litany of problems the parents claimed their daughter had. Some cases where a child is mentally ill play the trope straighter.
  • It's All My Fault: Dr. Phil's advice essentially boils down to making the guests realize this about themselves, in that whatever problems they are having, they, and they alone, are to blame.
  • I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: Dr. Phil's license to practice expired in 2006.
  • Happily Married: Subverted in one episode where Dr. Phil spent an episode talking to a couple who have been together for years but don't want to get married, citing this trope as reason that they have a problem. Even when they said they are perfectly happy just being together, Dr. Phil would just keep asking "Well then why aren't you married?". It turns out not everyone feels the need to get married.
  • Once an Episode: Recent seasons have made sure that every show he puts in a word for his book Life Code. Published by his son Jay's publishing company.
  • Point-and-Laugh Show: Has generally turned into a Jerry Springer "for moms" format.
  • Pushover Parents: Fairly common. Most of the time when there is a problem with parents and children and they aren't Abusive Parents, they are the opposite extreme and do absolutely nothing to discipline their child.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: The guests often don't seem to grasp the fact that their private problems are being broadcast to millions of people; you'd think all the cameras and the giant studio audience would give them a hint.
    • There have been some rare examples where the guests points out that they are being humiliated to "boost ratings". An example of it being a 2006 episode where a father fails a lie detector test after being accused of molesting his daughter. The father only brings it up because he is caught in his lie. Dr. Phil promptly tells him to "get off his high horse."
  • Spinoff: From The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • Straw Misogynist: One episode focusing on sexist husbands featured a man who, while on camera, goes on long tirades to his guest's face about how she as a woman is just not as good at anything as men are. But then subverted with the other husband. He's described as being sexist and mean to his wife, but in all fairness his wife's complaints just make it sound like he came home tired from work a lot and just wanted to watch TV to unwind now and then with their rat terrier on his lap.
  • Talk Show
  • What Were You Thinking?: Pretty much one of his catchphrases.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Phil