Series: The Jerry Springer Show
aka: Jerry Springer
They're always swearin', cursin', kickin' butt, and pointin' blame
On the air? They don't care, they've got no shame
There was one guy who I'm sure felt a little strange
When he found out that his wife had a sex change
They have a tendency to scream and yell constantly
They have a history of ripping off their shirts
Jerry Springer, a former mayor of Cincinnati note
, hosts this show that has to pull itself up
in content quality to qualify as "Trash TV". TV Guide
named it as the worst show ever — which it proudly declares at the start of every episode
. One of the most infamous Guilty Pleasures
on TV. (September 1991 - present)
In the show's first few years, before it became wildly popular, it took a more serious approach, with episodes that dealt with serious issues and politics (in one episode Jerry spent a night with a homeless teenager living on the streets). However, they came to the realization that the formula of "poking guests with sticks until they started fighting
" earned much better ratings. It, along with Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones, paved the way for shock talk shows
. It's still the king of shock talk, having outlasted most of its competition
and definitely talk's answer to Black Comedy
Your standard episode will feature a woman telling her husband's mistress to stay the *beep* away from her man, then dumping him at the end of the episode. Then there's usually some sort of crossdresser and a person with some weird
sexual fetish. Maybe a young girl who sleeps with older men. Every now and then you also get Klansmen
for good measure.
The show is notable for its security, as fights start about five times an episode. Similarly, Springer let his security chief, Steve Wilkos, fill in for him; this led to Steve getting his own talk show, which deals with very
serious issues and is most definitely not
the walking cartoon that Spinger's show is.
It goes without saying that the show couldn't be quite that bad without some help. While (presumably) most of the guests are realnote
, the production crew has admitted to giving them advice on how to make a better show out of their issues. In addition, Jerry and Steve themselves often dispense advice, on-stage or off-stage. A short-lived show called The Springer Hustle
covered the backstage activity.
The 1998 movie Ringmaster
starred Jerry playing, essentially (but not in name), himself.
In 2003, Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas launched the long-running London musical Jerry Springer: The Opera
. The plot has Jerry shot by a guest, whereupon the Devil
forces him to host his show in Hell and thereby try to reconcile the devil's realm with Heaven. The musical's religious satire, combined with heavy use of profanity, led to protests by Christian groups and even an attempt to prosecute the producers under Britain's blasphemy law, which didn't succeed because the law in question was vestigial.
This show (and The Steve Wilkos Show) provides examples of:
- All Crimes Are Equal: Steve never lets the accused sit down unless they have a medical condition. The nature of what the guest is accused of doing doesn't matter.note He does it to keep them uncomfortable because the accused doesn't allow others to feel comfortable. If they happen to be exonerated by the lie detector test, they will be allowed to sit. If the test determines that they lied, they will suffer the additional humiliation of being told to "Get the hell off my stage!"
- Argument of Contradictions: A bread-and-butter staple of both shows.
- Armoured Closet Gay: Occasionally they will have a guy who hooks up with men, or male-to-female transgender women, who still insists that he is not gay or even bisexual and has no attraction to men.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: In one episode featuring racists, one guy's reaction to anything said about him or his uncle was always to attempt to rush the stage; note the "attempt".
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Some of the transvestite guests, of both genders, can really pull off playing the opposite sex.
- Author Filibuster: Jerry's final thoughts are always about the main subject of the episode and articulate, no matter how bizarre, crazy, and trashy today's episode got.
- Bald of Awesome: Steve. Everyone loves his baldness (except the assholes getting restrained by him).
- Berserk Button:
- Neo-Nazis for Jerry — not surprising, since he's Jewish and lost much of his family in the Holocaust. He also threw off a guest, and left the show during the remainder of the air time, for claiming he could make anyone a porn star — including children.
- For Steve, it's bad parents, and criminals. He won't allow them to sit down, and will remove their chairs after they admit as much. You gonna feel sorry for the chairs after a while. Steve has also been known to throw chairs at the really disgusting ones. In one episode, he threw a chair at a wall hard enough to lodge it into the set, and said he wanted to do the very same to the guest.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: the shocking case of a man who married his horse.
- Blatant Lies:
- Weirdly enough, subverted. While Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show are about finding the truth (and occasionally pulling it out like teeth), the guests on Springer revel in revealing their ugly truths.
- Many of the guests come on as the result of Blatant Lies such as a cheating spouse or really being of the opposite sex.
- Also subverted with the fact that, as opposed to Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show, he doesn't use polygraph tests (a notoriously unreliable method).
- Blue Screen of Death: Because of the greater seriousness of the topics on The Steve Wilkos Show, it's more likely to happen there. Often, parents who had no idea their child was being abused or wives who weren't aware their husbands were cheating on them suffer from this.
- Break the Haughty: Jerry tends to stand back and watch for the shits and giggles. Steve, on the other hand, has no problem putting people into their place to the point where they're in tears. See "The Reason You Suck" Speech below.
- Breaking Speech: Steve is extremely good at these. He sure knows how to break assholes into crying messes. Guess twelve years as a police officer and being a
former Marine gives you knowledge on how these people think and how you can take advantage of it.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Averted in a bait and switch to draw in viewers. Whenever the show's topic is "I want to marry/am sleeping with my brother/sister", they always turn out to be stepsiblings, so it doesn't matter either way in the eyes of the law. There was one case of Parental Incest where they were blood related; the mother had put the daughter up for adoption as a baby and they had reunited when she was in her early/mid thirties, and the daughter came on to her mom and the mom went along with it.
- The Cameo/Celebrity Star: Along with the expected porn stars, The Iron Sheik once showed up in full character and received likely the biggest babyface reaction of his career.
- The Cast Showoff: When a guest says that they're a dancer, stripper, rapper or other performer, the audience immediately chants "LET'S SEE!" Sometimes (usually the strippers and dancers), they're quite good. Sometimes (especially the rappers) they're horrible. If a rapper messes up, sometimes an audience member will challenge them during the questions segment at the end.
- Catch Phrase:
- More of a "Catch Chant" at this point, but "JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!" and the newer "WE LOVE LESBIANS! WE LOVE LESBIANS! WE LOVE LESBIANS!" and "LET'S SEE! LET'S SEE! LET'S SEE!" whenever someone mentions they're a stripper.
- On The Steve Wilkos Show, "STEEEEEEEEEEEEVE!" is the equivalent, to the point that some of the asshole guests mock it. Then there's Steve's aforementioned "Get the hell off my stage!"
- Jerry's audience does it to have fun or mock the guests. Steve's audience does the "Steeeeeeeve!" chant to indicate that they agree with his point or that of someone making their case against whichever scumbag is on stage.
- Darker and Edgier: The Steve Wilkos Show is this for Jerry Springer. While Jerry deals with cases of weird sexual fetishes, cheating spouses and general weirdness, Steve deals with cases of rape, incest, child molestation, and murder. Steve's show also has a much more angry, harsh, and depressing tone to it than Jerry's does.
- However, in a bit of inversion, Jerry's set is dark and industrial looking while Steve's is bright and somewhat more contemporary.
- Deadpan Snarker:
: "...you think that I'm gonna say [lighter, mock sympathetic voice] Oh Jessica
, everything is gonna be all right. I gonna make all your problems go away. [normal voice] Well guess what. I'm not your fairy godmother
, I'm Steve, Steve Wilkos".
White trash? On our show?
- The audience members can get some good ones in too. Most of the Q&A near the end of the show makes fun of the attendees.
- Dirty Coward: All of the scumbags on The Steve Wikos Show.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- There was an episode entitled "I Married a Horse," which was about precisely what it sounds like. Jerry was visibly horrified.
- The above mentioned episode about how a guest was able to make anyone into a porn star, even children, disgusting Jerry enough to hurl him off the stage and then leave production for a while.
- When Casey Anthony was acquitted, he reportedly went on to say that he would not invite her on his show.
- The audience tends to be OK with just about any kind of crazy behavior, except bigotry, and, especially not anti-Semitism, and,'specially, anti-Semitism directed towards Jerry.
- They also humorously defy it. Any kind of attempt to improve the quality of the show is jokingly rejected. During the second-to-last segment, giving individual members of the audience the chance to ask questions of the guests, when someone offers a suggestion that could help the guests' lives, the crowd would chant "Go to Oprah! Go to Oprah!"
- Follow the Leader:
- Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, and many other tabloid talk show hosts. One could also argue that Jerry's trashier bent was due to the success of Geraldo.
- Steve got his own Spin-Off, which has the added bonus of Steve tearing into guests he doesn't like.
- Recently, a new show called The Test, hosted by Kirk Fox, has attempted to combine elements of Jerry Springer and Maury. It leans more toward Maury or Steve Wilkos with DNA and lie detector tests. But that still makes it at no more than two degrees of separation from Springer.
- Genre Blindness: You're invited to appear on The Jerry Springer Show and you're surprised your loved one has a secret? Really?
- Gentle Giant: Steve has a Hair-Trigger Temper when he deals with what he has to, be it on his own show or working security. However, he means well and tries his best to help those that deserve it. He can tower over most of the bad guys on either show.
- Girl on Girl Is Hot: One of the show's operating principles.
We love lesbians!
- The Klan: Like the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan were also a popular subject in the '90s, and a favorite group for Jerry and the audience to hate.
- Long Runners: Airing non-stop new episodes since 1991.
- Mama Bear: During a segment on The Steve Wilkos Show, where a mother finds out her husband had molested and set up her daughter to be killed, it took 3 men including Steve to hold her back from attacking him and she still managed to get her hands on him.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- The strippers.
- The lesbians (depending on your taste).
- Some of the guests.
- Lesbian guest strippers. (This actually happened twice.)
- When The Locust's Justin Pearson and his friends staged a four-way cheating farce for the show, the first two catfights ended up with "Alisia" in some state of undress.
- News Broadcast: After leaving politics, Jerry became a highly respected newsanchor for Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, with a segment devoted to his personal commentary, which were always intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate. His "final thoughts" on the talk show started out as a spiritual successor to these commentary segments, before the show changed tone and emulated Geraldo Rivera rather than Phil Donohue. Sadly, his name is so synonymous with trash TV now that it's been impossible for him to return to serious journalism or politics and be taken seriously by the general public. There's an episode of the This American Life radio series that examines this in detail. He did host a serious, syndicated political talk show from 2005-2006.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Some of the guests can qualify, such as the transsexual, double amputee masochist (she did it to herself for fun).
- Only Sane Man: Jerry himself; he's the only one with a cool head.
- Point-and-Laugh Show: The Trope Codifier. Any such show with this premise is taking its cues from this show.
- Pretty in Mink: In a "Too hot for tv" special involving porn stars, one showed up wearing a full length fur coat. When Jerry asked why, she said she heard it was cold in Chicago. It also allowed her to do a bit of teasing to the audience before fully revealing herself.
- Pretender Diss: Jerrynote delivers a pretty epic one to a Ku Klux Klan member after the latter puts on a Nazi armband and an SS cap.
Jerry: You have no idea how much I wish, how much *I wish* that the real Nazis of the world 50 years ago were like you. We would all still be alive.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: "H-O-R-E!"
- Self-Deprecation: Jerry often lightheartedly apologizes for his show when he's on another show.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Steve ain't afraid to pull these ones on the wifebeaters, the child abusers or any general scumbags when he's in charge.
- The "Final Thoughts" consist of Jerry tearing his guests a new one... except that they don't get it because he speaks at above a fifth grade vocabulary level.
- Running Gag:
- "I'm not a slut!" "Sorry, you can't be on our show."
- The police siren that goes off every time someone mentions they've been in jail.
- Jerry reluctantly picking up a wig or piece of weave when it's been ripped up in a fight.
- The sound effect of a boxing bell rung whenever a fight breaks out, or is played to start a fight, which usually works.
- Signing Off Catch Phrase: "Until next time, take care of yourself, and each other."
- Slut Shaming: The sluts are mocked, but then again, so is everyone else.
- Subculture of the Week: This week "adulteers", next week "neo nazi", the week after that, the guy that screws goats, etc
- Tag Team: If a woman is handicapped or pregnant, she gets to bring a designated ass-kicker (usually a friend or sister) to get into the more physical confrontations.
- Talk Show: It used to be a prim and proper one.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Neo-Nazis were a popular subject matter back in the '90s, and a favorite for the audience and Jerry to pile on.
- Too Hot for TV: Many specials and some DVDs are sold with this label. Sometimes it's just without the swearing bleeped out, and sometimes it's far more explicit.
- Tranquil Fury: When Steve yells at you during the first instance, he's mad. When he starts off against a guy with a smile on his face, pray to every god of every religion.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: A UK version called The Springer Show aired for six months in 2005. In the years since, Springer has said that while he had no regrets about doing the show and was fascinated by how different (and yet in many ways, similar) the problems faced by his British guests were, he found it immensely frustrating dealing with the British television executives, who were way more conservative and less willing to push the envelope than their American counterparts were.
- The Unfair Sex: Averted. The audience does not hesitate to shout "Whore! Whore! Whore!" when a female guest is unfaithful.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Just about every fifth episode. Most featured men who, up until that point, thought they were dating a woman will unleash their fury upon the newly-discovered man. Hilariously inverted on a few occasions where women find out their boyfriends are actually women.
- Villainous Breakdown: Much of Steve's lie detector tests and door choosings often end this way with the bad party breaking down.