"Maury, I am [insert huge number here] percent sure that he is the father of my baby!"
Almost every mother seeking paternity on the show from a deadbeat dad.
Maury, formerly titled The Maury Povich Show, is a day time talk show where Maury Povich talks with several guests that have various problems and issues, such as finding people they haven't seen in years, medical conditions, etc. As the show gained popularity and ran longer, it went for more "trash" topics, such as cheating spouses. The most common element used in the show is DNA tests, sometimes taken to the extreme if a single man is accused of making multiple kids from different women, or when a single woman brings multiple men on the show (sometimes over the span of several episodes) to find her baby's father. The men always say, "That baby don't look nothing like me!"Other common episodes are: rowdy, out of control teen girls who disrespect and abuse their mothers and/or siblings (they always say "You don't know me!" when confronted about said wild behavior); lie detector tests; men who treat their women like slaves; and crazy footage caught on tape (cheaters caught in the act, insane accidents, etc.). While not shown very often, there have been many episodes of mothers with extremely obese toddlers and young kids (usually ranging from ages 3-7) and their mothers who always are either clueless as to why their child keeps getting fatter; who know they're giving their kids too much junk, but don't know what to do; or ones that firmly believe making their child dangerously fat makes their kid special and beautiful. There have also been episodes about guests trying to overcome their phobias and missing children.Around certain holidays, such as Valentine's Day or Christmas, the show will celebrate those holidays by having either a group of people dressed as women (but some are men or vice versa, so the guests have to figure out who is who) or have Jack Hanna bring in a bunch of exotic animals to entertain the children in the audience. Other times, the show will have a "Maury's Talented Kids" episode where really cute kids sing, dance, etc., sometimes for cash prizes or family vacations.You can also play the drinking game (at your own risk).
You ARE the father, and a user of these tropes:
All Abusers Are Male: Pretty much the sole motivation for the show to have episodes where a boyfriend/husband is mentally and physically abusing their girlfriend/wife. The show tries to avert this by showing wild and out of control teenage girls abusing their parents and/or siblings, but it then became just the inverted version of this, where the show makes it look like only teenage girls are capable of abusing their families, and not teenage boys.
The man who said "That (girl) can't be my baby because I only make boys".
The man who claimed that he wasn't the father because the baby had six fingers.
Another who insisted that a baby wasn't his because the baby did not have six fingers.note He was actually right about this.
One who somehow thought that when a woman who thought she couldn't have children had a baby anyway, this meant it couldn't be his because she was supposed to be infertile, but yet another man could get her pregnant.
"That baby can't be my baby because s/he has blue eyes!"note Permanent eye color (regardless of race) is usually not determined until a child is somewhere between 12-18 months. Cue stupid look on the guy's face when he's told that he is the father!
One particular (Hispanic) potential father claimed that the baby couldn't be his because it didn't come out speaking Spanish. He later altered his statement to "it didn't cry with an accent".note While recently conducted studies have determined that babies cry with accents similar to their parents' accent, this is learned behavior, so the guy is still an idiot and he was the father.
A rare case of mother stupidity on this show which doesn't involve her promiscuity, or at least not directly. The potential father denied being the father because the baby was clearly racially mixed, and both the mother and he were white. The mother's response? "Skin color's got nothin' to do with nothin'". Needless to say, he was not the father. For some reason, the mother actually got furious and went after the guy, and when asked why, she said something along the lines of "Because he's a (bleep bleep bleep)!", making her look even worse.note "Nothing to do with nothing" is a double negative and cancels itself out; by saying that, she admitted skin color had everything to do with it, which it did.
The exact opposite happened in another episode. A white couple had a baby who was obviously half-black, but the husband was unaware of his wife's affair and was totally convinced the baby was his.
In another episode, a black woman brought in a baby that was clearly 100% black, and claimed that a white man was the father. Obviously, he wasn't.
Sometimes there's a mother who just had the baby about two weeks prior to the show, and the father is right away saying that it doesn't look like him.note Newborns don't look like either parent for the first few weeks or months. They all kind of look the same. And most of the time, it turns out these men are the fathers. One guest was actually right about this. However, he still stayed with his girlfriend after finding out he was right.
The father's right-handed. The mother's right-handed. The child's left-handed. Ergo, the kid's not his because two right-handed people can't have a left-handed child!note In reality, the correlation between parents' handedness and their children's handedness is moderate at best.
One guest stated that he couldn't be the father because he only had one testicle. He ended up being the father.
Many, many men who claim they can't be the father because, "we only had sex one time!". One time is all it takes.
The Baby Trap: It's pretty obvious that some of the mothers attempt to do this in order to get child support out of the supposed fathers.
Beneath the Mask: Some of the men, and their family members or current girlfriends/wives if they are with them, who were initially happy that weren't the father of a child, reveal that it was just an act and they are actually extremely furious/emotional about the results.
Berserk Button: Do not claim that the lie detector was either rigged or malfunctioning, or Ralph Barberi will call you out for it.
Especially when an obvious cheater is called out by a lie detector test, and they keep insisting they're innocent.
During one DNA test episode, a white couple came on the show for two DNA tests for their fraternal twins. Despite the fact that it was obvious to everybody, including the fiancé, that the fiancée cheated on the former and that he wasn't the father, she claimed that she never cheated and the twins' darker complexion was due to it being hereditary on her side of the family. The DNA tests revealed that he wasn't the father. Even after the truth came out, she still claimed that she hadn't cheated.
Censored for Comedy: The show is randomly sprinkled with bleeps, even during (seemingly) silent moments. It becomes especially jarring when Maury is trying to say something and one of the guests, or the audience, curses, which the show has to bleep out. This creates a weird second of silence which throws everything off.
Don't Celebrate Just Yet: Some men, and women, will celebrate when they pass the first question or questions of the lie detector test, only to fail the rest of the test. The accuser, and occasionally Maury, will tell the accused this while the results are being read. Some women have also done this when they think a guy is the father of their child shortly before Maury reveals that the guy isn't the father.
The show will occasionally leave out some details about a guest during an update episode in order to make them look better. One notable example is Ricktoria. During her first two appearance on the show, she found out that her boyfriend Clinton was not only cheating on her with her mom, but was trying to get the latter pregnant. On her third appearance, Ricktoria revealed that she cheated on Clinton with his best friend Juan. She then revealed to both of them that she lied about being pregnant. Ricktoria's third appearance is usually not mentioned in updates about her.
The out of control teen episodes almost always focuses on the girls.
Dramatic Pause: Maury will occasionally do this when he is reading the results of a DNA or lie detector test.
Fat Girl: In the plastic surgery episodes, many girls got liposuction due to being insecure about their weight and the bullying they received from it.
Flipping the Bird: Used to be aimed at the studio audience who would react negatively towards out of control teens and other guests.
Genre Blindness: You'd think the guests who are brought out to be ambushed with big secrets would guess ahead of time what was about to happen. This is particularly egregious on cheating episodes, when they put a suspected cheater in the green room with a sexy decoy to see if he makes a move. Naturally, the guy always takes the bait; if he'd ever seen the show, he'd know there was a camera taping his every move.
One genre savvy man subverted this when he proposed to his girlfriend, holding up a board with "Will You Marry Me?" on it towards the camera.
Some men caught cheating with the sexy decoy claim that they're "only playing along" because doing that is "expected" of them when they come on the show. Maybe he has a point, but nobody buys it.
When one man was shown the decoy footage, he insisted that it wasn't him! While the tape is blurry, Dave Vitali, the guy who administers the decoy test and observed the entire thing, was sitting right there in the audience.
Heroic BSOD: Maybe not always heroic, but some examples:
A mother finds out the man she thought was her baby daddy isn't the father after all. This is usually accompanied by her running backstage in hysterics.
A mother with two potential baby daddies finds out the man she wants to be the father isn't (and vice versa).
A man finds out he is indeed a father when he clearly doesn't want to be.
An accuser, when a lie detector test determines that their partner is unfaithful.
A mother with two or more potential baby daddies finds out that none of the guys are the father.
A father finds out his beloved child is not biologically his due to the mother's affair.
The lie detector exonerates the accused but also finds the accuser guilty of what they were trying to pin on the other.
Horrible Judge of Character: There are cases where a man believes he is not the father of his mate's baby because someone else said it wasn't. This usually comes from people who don't like the man's girlfriend/wife for various reasons, such as the man's sibling, mother, or best friend. Subverted when the accuser(s) are proven right and the man made the right choice all along.
Jerkass Has a Point: Believe it or not, the out of control teen girls do have some good ideals, but apply them poorly. For example, one girl said she did what made her happy and didn't care what anyone thought. The mindset itself is good, but she was using it as an excuse for her wrongful behavior.
Lie Detector: Which are always deemed accurate, no matter how implausible the accusations actually are. Apparently, it is so good that the show can tell how many times a guest has cheated.
Long Runner: Maury is the only true competitor of Jerry Springer still on the air (The Steve Wilkos Show doesn't count, since it's a more serious spin-off of Springer). Interestingly, all three shows are owned by NBC Universal, their studios are located in Stamford, Connecticut and most stations air all of them.
Manipulative Editing: Nearly every preview of the next segment after the commercial break are played in a way that makes some situations look a lot worse than it is, due to edited audio and/or splicing clips together.
Mood Whiplash: Usually when a DNA test or the lie detector is involved. The most notable examples includes:
The studio audience will get on a man when he says that he isn't the father of a child, only for them to cheer for said man the exact moment it is revealed that he was right.
A man that initially interacts negatively with the audience when says that he isn't father of a child will sometimes go into the audience to celebrate with them when it's revealed that he was right. This also occasionally happens when it's revealed that a guy isn't a cheater.
A woman who is very confident that the guy is the father of her child prior to results being read immediately runs backstage in tears when she founds that he isn't.
The studio audience will always get on a man if he is accused of cheating. If he passes the lie detector test, the audience will cheer for them.
Once an Episode: Whenever the show does a DNA test episode, expect the following to always happen at least once:
The mother is [insert huge number here] percent sure that the man in question is the father of their baby.
The accused deadbeat comes up with an excuse on why he couldn't be the father.
If the man is the father:
The new father gets upset because now he has to deal with a woman he can't stand.
The mother acts very smug and gets all in the father's face on how she was right all along, and how he'll have to take care of her baby now.
The new father eventually accepts responsibility of the baby and tries to make amends with the mother. Subverted if the father still tries to reject the baby.
If the man is not the father:
The mother runs backstage in tears with Maury going after her to comfort her. Bonus points if the man goes after her to gloat.
"Rashomon"-Style: The stories of the man and woman always contradict each other, although in a lot of cases, it's obvious that the man is lying to make himself look better (such as saying that the woman is promiscuous). This is also the case for women who claim that the guy(s) they think is the father isn't.
Sometimes too the woman is just way too upset to accept anything the man says, even when he's proven not to have done anything seriously wrong.
Really Gets Around: Half the guests, but special attention goes to the mothers searching for their baby daddy and bringing upwards of a dozen men on the show. She would have slept with all of these guys within the span of a month...
Rule of Three: Whenever a cheating man or woman confesses their secrets to their significant other, the secrets always amount two or three, but no more.
Scare 'Em Straight: This is applied in full force in the out of control teen girls and abusive boyfriend/husband episodes. The offenders in question are sent to a place to show what will happen if they don't change. Bonus points if the people sent there break down in tears and promise they will change for the better. Subverted when a follow up episode shows that the offenders learned absolutely nothing, especially if they were recorded to show remorse in their first appearance.
Schmuck Bait: Maury employs a "sexy decoy", an attractive woman claiming to be another guest, to hit on men suspected of cheating in the green room. It's shocking how much this always works.
Some women on the show have actually gone so far as to name their son after a potential father. Flip a coin, and there's a good chance that child is not actually the potential father's son.
Serial Escalation: Occasionally, a woman will make repeat appearances, dragging several men along each time for a DNA test. Double digits isn't uncommon.
She Is All Grown Up: Another frequent show topic is women who were nerds growing up but have evolved into beautiful young women, often with the help of breast implants and other cosmetic surgery. And if their stage antics are to be believed, we have every reason to think they now work as strippers. Men are sometimes featured on this type of show, and as expected, they're always muscle-bound beefcakes.
The Tell: On a cheating episode, if a guy says "After today, she has got to change [and stop accusing me]", there's at least an 80% chance he's cheating.
Inversely, the higher percent "sure" a woman is that a man is the father of her baby, the lower percent chance he actually is the father.
If the guy being accused kisses his girlfriend/wife when he walks onstage, he's usually telling the truth.
Guests who smile before or after a result is read, almost always gives themselves away that they are/were lying about something.
If a home DNA test is mentioned, and subsequently disregarded for the Maury DNA test, the home DNA test is almost always provenright.
If a woman brings two men on for respective DNA tests, and one of them happens to be the guy she cheated on her significant other with (or even slept with when they were on a break), there's a good chance that neither of them will be the father, which comes with the double gut punch that the woman's cheating is even more widespread than the boyfriend thought.
Too Much Information: Many guests have absolutely no problem describing their sex lives, or lack thereof, in explicit detail.
Trailers Always Spoil: Almost all the clips shown on what happens next before the commercial break always spoil (mostly with the lie detector/DNA test episodes) due to showing the guests' reaction to the results without actually showing the viewer the results.
Some episodes subvert this by showing an unrelated clip of the audience acting like the test said someone was not the father, when it was actually the opposite.
Yet another episode resorted to a Quote Mine. A cheating mother (an affair kept secret for 22 years) with a daughter whose father might not actually be her father. The trailer that came before the DNA test showed the man saying "I never want to see you again". However, the DNA test revealed that the man was the father, and when he talked to the mother he said, "I was thinking 'I never want to see you again', but I decided to be there for our daughter, even if she isn't mine." A classic bait and switch.
Tranquil Fury: When bickering guests piss Maury off, especially during DNA test episodes, he shows this in spades. The best indicator that he's angry is when he does not even bother to calm the guests down; he goes straight to the producer for the envelope.
A woman can bring on upwards of a dozen men for DNA tests. The men, who have every right to be doubtful they're the father at this point, are always booed off the stage when they say this (although they aren't really doing themselves any favors by making a loud, obnoxious scene).
This also applies to teenagers; every time the show focuses on out of control teenagers, it always shows that girls are the problem.
A rather infuriating example happened in one of the DNA test episodes. A 20 year old woman was accusing a 14 year old boy of being her baby daddy. Thankfully, he wasn't, but the fact that she wasn't in prison makes no sense. Imagine what would have happened if the genders were reversed.
From time to time, men will use a home DNA test to determine if a child is his. If it comes up negative, the women will always claim that the test is wrong or inaccurate. Every time the home DNA test said the man wasn't the father, the Maury DNA test has said the same thing. Maury, however, still treats the home DNA tests as insufficient evidence that the man is not the child's father.
In one notable subversion of this, a woman had two men who were possibly the father of her child. This seemed like a regular paternity segment until it was revealed that both men didn't know each other and each thought he was the father, presumably in an effort to bilk them both for money. She was rightfully called out for her behavior and booed.
Men accusing women of cheating are generally booed and looked at as being monsters as well, sometimes even after the results show they were right. On the inverse, the audience is always on the side of a woman accusing a man of cheating.
Unusual Euphemism: The reason out of control teens and others say "you don't know me!" is because they're told not to swear but can say that. It's the show's version of "fuck you!" Despite this, it didn't stop guests from using more blatant methods to get around this.
Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Sometimes, an accuser simply refuses to believe that someone is telling the truth, even when they completely pass a lie detector test.
X, You ARE/are NOT the Father!: What a potential father will hear from Maury during the results of a DNA test. How the man reacts to the revelation depends on the situation.
You Look Familiar: Frequent fliers galore, especially for DNA tests. One woman, Sholonda, tested 17 men trying to find the father of one child (among whom were a smiling token white and her cousin). She never found the father. She later came back to reveal to her husband, Tywrell, that she cheated on him again and her second child she had with him might not be his. Fortunately, it turned out he was the father.
Your Cheating Heart: A staple of guests on the show. Almost all of the DNA tests involve cheating in some way, and every lie detector test involves questions about cheating.