Tell it to them straight

This morning, while I was doing some paperwork, I watched the Jeremy Kyle Show.  Now, I don’t often watch this as I am usually otherwise occupied at that time of the morning, but I find the show absolutely fascinating. Over the years I’ve seen other similar shows, Tricia springs to mind and that blonde woman whose weight goes up and down, but they don’t serve the same purpose.

Now I expect you think I’m going to lambast The Jeremy Kyle Show as sensationalist, bullying rubbish, a modern day amphitheatre.  I’m not.  I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

The majority of the people who go on his show come from families where no-one is providing a role model of any kind.  No-one is dishing out good advice, setting standards or guiding their behaviour in any way.  Nobody in authority e.g. social workers, doctors, dole officers or teachers are going to tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable because it’s not their job and they would probably be disciplined for doing so.  Even if they did, the people concerned probably wouldn’t listen or just give them a mouthful of abuse.

When they go on the Jeremy Kyle show, firstly, one of the people concerned  has actually made the ‘phone call which means that at some level they want to change things.  Secondly, if they have genuine problems there is a team on hand who are skilled in the areas in which they need help and support.  Thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly Kyle will say to their faces “You are a rubbish father”, “You’re behaving like a slut”, “You should be ashamed of yourself”, “Stop being a useless coward and face your responsibilities”.  He says the things that no-one else is ever allowed to say.

Nice, middle class people watching it are probably horrified by the aggressive stance that he takes with some of the participants, but if no-one ever tells it to them straight, what possible chance do they ever have of making their lives better?  He can also be incredibly kind and genuinely upset for the people involved but he and the show’s counsellor are still very firm and clear about what needs to be done.  What really scares me is that he maybe has two or three guests on every day and they will only represent a tiny fraction of the population who are behaving in similar ways.

I was watching a girl last week was only 19, she had five children by four different fathers and she and her boyfriend were doing a lie detector and a DNA test because he thought he wasn’t the father of her last child and he’d caught her shagging another bloke at a party (“only because I was drunk”) while her baby was upstairs needing to be fed.

Many of the people behave like animals, they have no respect for themselves, their partners, their children or their families.  Violent, drug addicted, aggressive people.  Sobbing, floundering, chaotic, bewildered people. Some of them can barely speak. Young men and women having unprotected sex with anyone who’s up for it and producing children that no-one wants, no-one knows how to care for and who will grow up to behave in the same nihilistic way.

I have sometimes actually wept when I’ve seen the futility of some of those young people’s lives and the appalling cycle of neglect, lack of respect, laziness and complete absence of responsibility which is as ‘hereditary’ as heart disease, diabetes or mental ill-health.  If a session with Jeremy Kyle and his team can sort a few of them out, or stimulate a few others to take a good look at themselves, then the rather voyeuristic nature of the show can be absolutely justified.


Filed under Behaviour and Etiquette, Life in general

9 responses to “Tell it to them straight

  1. Project50

    Interesting point of view, well made as always. I can’t bear to watch – just too depressing. Is it a public service or yet another invitation to laugh at people?

  2. Morag

    Like you, WH, I rarely watch Jeremy Kyle – not because I am busy doing other things, but because I feel uncomfortable with the thought that I am doing so as an excuse to laugh at other people.

    I would agree that whilst he sometimes comes over as a bully, he really is just telling some of the most emotionally deprived people in our society what they need to hear. And I truly respect the fact that he has a backstage team who will continue to work with people who need more help. In that, I feel his show is very different from Jerry Springer etc in the USA.

  3. I don’t watch it often either, just occasionally when I’m doing something else like the ironing and need a bit of diversion. I am constantly stunned by the type of people on there (and their activities), who seem to be a completely different species. I always think if you’ve got to the stage of having five kids by different fathers and don’t know who any of them are, then you’re already a lost cause. But I DO like Jeremy himself, who speaks a lot of common sense and who hopefully does get his message through to these people. How he manages not to bash them over the head I’ll never know….

  4. H’m. Perhaps you’re right. The Resident Wise Woman certainly watches this show in a similar spirit – of genuine interest in the participants and hope that they’ll be helped by the process – that you do. Personally I can’t bear it, mainly because everyone shouts so much. And I’d be more convinced of the show’s helpfulness if they went back after three years and found out how the participants are doing. Maybe they do this: please tell me they do.

  5. sara

    Hi i have watched it(guilty secret)…i’m often shocked and appalled at the behaviour of the individuals on there at times..think i live in a sheltered little bubble at you say no role models that set a good example in their life leads to them drifting along with no direction and having babies so that someone loves them..very sad..i think the show does do aftercare but for how long..some of them need long term help and constant guidance to keep them on the straight and narrow…my hubby reckons its to embarrassing to watch..people airing their dirty laundry in public..he also thinks they go around the roughest estates offering a free night in a hotel with all expenses paid ..just to get them on the show????..probably???..but no amount of freebies would get me on there thats for sure..too shy and nothing interesting going on in my life that the world needs to know about anyway….tbh i think in some cases he does do the right thing and help them but others are too far gone and the way of life they live is too ingrained in them to change..

  6. Rosemary

    I never watch these programmes now as the people who appear on them disgust me,for all the reasons you mention in your post.How could anyone make such an exhibition of themselves in public ?

  7. wartimehousewife

    Phil: Yes they do have catch up shows. Every few months they have a show which follows up past participants who have made great strides. Sometimes people come back on the show to take their progression a step further.

    Rosemary: I completely understand your feelings about the people involved. But I think we must remember that if they behave like that in the first place, they’re not going to worry about being on camera. Also, I’m sure that a lot of them feel they have no other recourse.

    I would like to bet that many readers of this blog have had better or at least more guided upbringings than the participants on Jeremy Kyle and there but for the grace of God go any of us. I’m sure that there are those who laugh at their misfortune but if their lives are improved in any way then I’m not sure it matters.

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  9. Kyla

    I can’t stand the man, what sort of role model shouts abuse at people who are abusers? How does that teach them there is another way to shouting and bullying. Jeremy Kyle is a – better not say that actually – but he is a bullying, insulting, ignorant abuser with a huge pay packet. His salary is the only difference between him and them.

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