I started writing this article for Asylum thinking that Maury was at least a decent, compassionate fellow, and ended it wanting to punch him in the face for trading people the cost of a paternity test (about $150) for their dignity and privacy. Guests are encouraged to ham it up, and they’re given scripted attacks to deliver on each other in those opening segments describing their situations. Everyone is awful, or pretends to be awful, and the few decent folks are usually the ones getting burned. It’s a freakshow pretending to be sympathetic, which isn’t a great way to treat vulnerable people, even if some of them are jerks. And it’s especially a lousy way to treat single mothers.
Every morning, Maury Povich rises from a coffin filled with his native earth, puts on his human face, and heads to work, where a fresh supply of victims waits to trade their dignity for a free paternity test. After they’ve memorized the foul invective they’ll hurl at one another in the show’s pre-taped introductions, they step into the studio lights of Maury’s lair. And that’s where we, the American audience, come in. (If you’re not American, we assume you’re here to let the comments section know how glad you are to live in Your Country Here, where life is better, but guess what? Pizza isn’t. America wins again!)
While not technically a “talk show” since most of what everyone’s yelling is bleeped out, the program has talk show qualitites, like exploiting people’s miseries, pretending to care about them, and shaming a generation of children when their classmates find clips on YouTube of their dads wishing they’d never been conceived because their mothers slept around. Maury’s show has a particular preference for women who run offstage in shame — because it’s one thing to have unprotected sex with three men in a month, but four is quite embarrassing. It’s also notorious for getting men to dance, something it normally takes a one-two promise from a beer in the hand and sex in the bush to achieve.
Read on to see the train wreckage that is the Maury Povich paternity testing episode, and help us kill it by remembering one simple fact about condoms; They’re fairly cheap and easy to put on. There, we just prevented 1,000 babies from ever being conceived. Take THAT, John Connor and Second Coming Jesus!
Since this show does for the human soul what BP did for the Gulf of Mexico, let’s ease in with a semi-uplifting clip. Corey’s more mature at 15 than most guests are at 30. The only things he has in common with most men on this show are a doubt about paternity and living with his parents. After this it gets worse before it gets better, and how often do you hear that about a clip that ends with a 15-year-old single mom wailing in despair?
Now for a more typical clip, in which a struggling 3.5 on the MILF Richter Scale calls out her ex, who’s engaged to a potato-shaped woman. The male guests are perpetually engaged because weddings require cake, and no cake can survive a woman whose self-esteem unites her with a guy who ferociously berates an ex-lover as a “whore” on TV. Remember you always, sir, that a gentleman shatters a woman’s character in private, and in hushed tones.
Okay, so maybe we went ad hominem too quickly. The point is, just about everyone here is coached to act badly, except for the naturally awful people, like Valchas here. His poor mother is mortified by his behavior, so it’s a net win for two of the 21 kids ascribed to him when they lose a lousy father but gain a great grandma.
Take a cue from Maury’s most outrageous guest of all time. Pioneer of the “I’m not the dad” explosive acrobatics, Branden finally realized creating human life isn’t a Saturday hobby. It’s a good thing he stopped having kids of his own volition, because he was one kid away from a court-ordered vasectomy.
Willie is a man who handles his business. He works hard, stays faithful, and when betrayed, efficiently divorces his wife and claims custody of the children. He also leaps from his chair with enough force to scare China’s radar operators. But you would too if your spouse took you on TV to reveal she’d cuckolded you 200 times. He didn’t like it, so he took a ring off it.
Ethan’s a more forgiving soul. After five infidelities, he hangs his loyalty on his patronhood and stays with his lady. Still, a five-time cheater? That’s like a Forget Valentine’s Day Free card. That or he should be allowed one (1) child with a girl hotter than her.
The biggest man of all? James, who forgives his wife and his own brother (who turns out to be the real father) for the sake of the kid. He’s more forgiving than most Popes. Still, that’s going to make for one awkward Thanksgiving.
The family that sticks together for the baby’s sake.
Telia appeared on the show 9 times, and gloated over Dion that he must be the Dad. The test results literally knock him out of his seat and catapult her across the stage, but the real victim is the audience member who gets left hanging at 1:24. Oh, and the child. Always, the child.
No male guest was so excited to be free of responsibility as Felix. He executed a neat backflip, which is more than most men do when their child’s born, let alone disinherited.
It’s Casie vs. Casey and the prize is paternity of triplets. TKO!
Happy news sends man into a real-life synchronized dance number. That only happens in Glee. (Does it happen in Glee? We don’t have a girlfriend right now so no one’s ever made us watch it.) Only one thing’s for sure — when you dance this well, you’ll have women lining up to drag you into a paternity suit.
Terrence is not the father of Forever’s child…again. That woman has run out of that hallway in shame so many times she has her own passing lane. But you know who should be ashamed, besides everybody in the studio? Terrence. If you know the water’s poisoned, why go back to the well?
Someone set this clip to the Final Fantasy level-up music. Does that mean he goes from rogue to rolling stone?
If only someone would just spare all these people the public humiliation and release an inexpensive paternity test. They could even get Povich as its sponsor. Oh, wait: someone did. The test is a joke, but Povich’s endorsement is all too real.