Five Life Lessons The Jerry Springer Show Teaches Us

Jerry Springer

The crowd chants, “Je-rry, Je-rry, Je-rry!” What’s going on here? Did someone start another food fight or throw a chair at a cheating spouse? Probably. It is the Jerry Springer Show after all, and that’s the sort of thing you’ll see. It’s trash-TV at its finest, but there’s more to it than just some crude people getting fifteen-minute famous for their worst personal events. You can learn something from the Jerry Springer Show if you’re willing to look past the weave-pulling and name-calling that makes up most of the content. You might even learn something about yourself. We won’t bore you with the laughable and obvious lessons here. You already know that cheating is terrible and announcing it on national TV is stupid. If you’re not sure who the father of your child is, be honest and get a blood test done without the cameras. Reality TV and all its subsidiaries can be a great guilty pleasure, but you don’t want to get caught up in trying to live that life. Or maybe you do. Either way, there are some more profound life lessons here than ‘never sit next to your ex when there’s pie on the table.’

1. Watching Others Fail is More Entertaining

The Jerry Springer Show has been around since September of 1991. Originally it was supposed to be a bit more high-minded. In fact, the show was initially conceived as a political discussion. However, it wasn’t working out very well. Perhaps there were too many other political talkshows on at the time. Then again, maybe a man who was once forced out of the city council because of a sex scandal just wasn’t believable as a serious politician. Whatever the case, by the time 1998 rolled around, Springer was beating Oprah at the ratings game. Hence Jerry Springer proved that, at least in the late ’90s, people were way more invested in watching people misbehave than they were in bettering themselves.

2. Anyone Can Run For Office

Jerry Springer is an immigrant from a Jewish family that fled to America to escape the horrors of WWII when he was five. Immigrants can’t run for president, but any other political profession is fair game. Possibly, as a result of that early influence, he spent most of his early work-life in politics and law. After graduating from Tulane in 1965, he went to Northwestern for his law degree, and among other jobs, he practiced law for a while. Just in case you missed it, from 1977 to 1981 Jerry Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati. It’s okay if you need a moment to process that. By all accounts, he was an extremely popular mayor too. Jerry won his post as mayor by the widest margin in the history of his city. He was well known and loved from his time on the city council, where he made a serious effort to appeal and listen to the problems of average people. Jerry wore bellbottoms to meetings and even spent a day as a garbage man to better understand what his voters wanted and how to relate to people.

3. Always Pay Prostitutes in Cash

Getting involved in any scandal can negatively impact your career. A political career is especially at risk when you end up embroiled in a public sex scandal. Jerry Springer was once a rising political star. He was incredibly popular with the people in his city. Jerry often pulled stunts that might have foreshadowed his future if anyone had known what they were looking at. For example, he spent some time in jail, but not for a crime. Instead, he asked to be locked in n order to hear what the prisoners had to say. The long-story of Jerry Springer’s rise to the city council, subsequent scandal, and eventual mayoral win is intriguing. However, it’s not the moral of this life lesson. Jerry might not have gotten caught if he hadn’t paid for sex with checks. We’re not going to weigh in on prostitution here, but we will say that if you don’t want to get caught, pay cash.

4. Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

If you’ve been a fan or a horrified onlooker of the Springer show for a while, then you may have seen such classic episodes as the man whose mistress stole his fake leg, the kung fu hillbilly and the mother-daughter domination team. With such outright bizarre nonsense on the screen, surely you’ve wondered whether it’s all faked. That’s fair, but the sad answer is no, it’s not all fake. Guests on the show have admitted the fights are a bit staged and encouraged. However, the people who went on the show were at least willing to tell the producers that they were serious about these problems.

5. Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

When you start life writing for The Weekly World News and The Sun, the lowest of the lowball fake (but fun) newspapers, you’re bound to have a different outlook on what people want. That’s precisely where Richard Dominick, one of the producers of the Jerry Springer Show got his start. To be fair, he was a writer, performer, and creative director for the New Jersey Public Theater and Comedy Workshop first. Then the Weekly World News hired him to write about possessed toasters and dummies coming to life. It’s no surprise that Richard was largely responsible for helping swing the new but flagging political Springer show in the direction of food fights and strange fetishes.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to so-bad-it’s-good TV, Springer was king for almost three decades before he aired the final episode. However, the tradition of trash TV is a legacy he’s passed on to shows like Jersey Shore and Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. While there’s never a shortage of outrageous weirdos with wild stories to tell, no one else has aired the same four-thousand loads of other people’s dirty laundry. Perhaps no one ever will, and we’re secretly a little sad that binge-watching the reruns is our only recourse. What was your favorite episode?

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