When people tune in to television shows like Maury and Jerry Springer, they expect to see drama…and it’s drama they get. But how real is what we see on our TV screens? Are shows like this completely fabricated, or are those people actually unsure who the father is?
A number of users on Reddit have responded to AskReddit threads about this very subject. Some have been on these shows themselves, other have friends who told them all about it, but all of them offer an inside look at how shows like these are made.
A guy I work with was a regular on Maury. He was one of the people that you’d see ‘updates’ on fairly regularly.
He first went on there because his girlfriend had something to tell him. It turns out that she had cheated on him and there was a possibility that he wasn’t the father of their child. He’s crying and they bring out the guy she cheated with. They’ve done DNA tests and tell my co-worker that he IS NOT the father. He’s crazy about his kid, so of course, he’s devastated.
Then they read the results for the other guy. Of course, he IS NOT the father, either. She swears that’s the only time she’s cheated. Then they go back on Maury and she remembered about three other guys she had cheated with.
Go figure, none of them are the father, either.
They wound up testing seven or eight guys before they actually found the real father. My co-worker stupidly actually ended up marrying her. Ultimately, I think it came down to the kid. He wanted to be in their life but had no legal rights to do so if he dumped her…at least, that’s what I hope it was. Yet no one was too surprised when she dumped him a couple years later because she’d started hooking up with the baby daddy again.
Last I saw of him, he was fired because he kept showing up to work all messed up. I still occasionally flip through channels and see re-runs with him on it.
2. Made Him Look Stupid
A good friend of mine was on Jerry Springer. At the time, he had a fiancée, and they thought it would be something funny to do. So they made up this whole story that she was a dancer in Vegas, and while out on vacation he met her and has been stalking her ever since. You know, standard Jerry.
So they fly them out there, put them up in a hotel, everything seems to be just fun and games. Well, they show up at the studio and the costume team starts going nuts on them. You know how everyone wears shirts that are too big for them? Well, I learned that it’s a deliberate thing Jerry’s team does to men who they want to look especially stupid (and oh god did he look stupid – we still bust on him).
At the taping, they are both nervous as anything. My boy has visible sweat stains and his voice kept squeaking, but they made it through it. He was demolished by the crowd afterward, I honestly wish I taped it because I only have my memory. Anyway, they broke up two months later. No more fiancée for my buddy Vince. He is still a great guy with an amazing sense of humor (and a new girlfriend) so I guess his life was pretty good afterward. He gets ripped on all the time for being on the show, but that’s just guys busting on each other.
3. Blood on the stage
I had a buddy that was on Springer a few years ago. One day, the Jerry Springer show called him. I always tell him that you know your life is messed up when Springer calls YOU, but anyway.
The true story is that my buddy’s then wife’s transvestite ex-boyfriend wanted her back. So Springer calls him and they start the process of booking the show. A few days later, the ex drops out. Since they’ve already booked the show, the producer says, ‘Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? Anything?
ANYTHING?’ insinuating that they should just make something else up.
They came up with a story where my buddy was cheating on his wife with his male friend, but that she was also cheating on him with her girlfriend. But wait! Both of the paramours were also cheating — with each other! They flew out to Stamford for the taping. Before the show, the lawyer came in and gave them ‘the speech’ — no cursing, no throwing things. no acting like jerks.
Then, the producer came in and said to ignore all the stuff that guy had just said.
‘I want you to break chairs, I want you to throw things, curse all you want, just don’t get blood on the stage.’ They went out and acted out their made-up story. His wife’s ‘lover’ danced on the pole. He and his ‘boyfriend’ ripped their shirts off and tried to beat each other up. At the questions and answers section, somebody in the audience called him a ‘werewolf-looking dude.’
Everyone in the audience jumped up and did a weird dance when they found out he was from Tennessee. Then they flew back.
The show aired a couple months later. I couldn’t be seen out in public with him without people recognizing him and asking if I was his new lover. That got old, quickly.
Years ago, a friend of mine was on Springer. She and her two male housemates had been sitting around drinking and someone said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to be on Springer?’ They devised some lame premise, phoned the show and three weeks later they on a paid-for trip to Chicago on an episode titled, ‘My Girlfriend Sells Herself Out.’ Their idea was to pretend that she listed her ‘services’ on Craigslist and that one of her housemates was her boyfriend and the other a client.
The guys went out partying the night before the show, but she decided to stay in.
Watching Fraser that night, one of the characters said something like ‘some of us are angels, some are devils and the rest of us are just doing the best we can.’ She thought that that would be something a streetwalker might say, so she dropped it during the segment the next day. She said that was the only moment when the ’emotions’ guy signaled the audience with a finger to his temple so they would all say ‘hmm.’
The other emotions the audience are signaled by thumbs-up (cheering) and thumbs down (booing). She is a very funny girl and lots of fun, but she did not give me the sense that being on Springer was particularly enjoyable. I have the impression that she wishes she hadn’t gone through with it. They were paid only for their trip, accommodation and about 100 dollars in expenses each. She didn’t speak with Jerry behind the scenes but said that there is a ‘priest’ who works behind the camera who spent tons of time with them and even contacted them after the show to see how things had worked out for everyone following the show.
She said this guy hit on her pretty hard.
I was a guest on the Carnie Wilson Show (eons ago when she had a show). A friend of mine’s then-girlfriend was a producer for it. She’d heard through my buddy that I had reconnected with a girl I used to have a crush on (let’s call her Yolanda) and was wondering if I’d agree to be flown to New York, be picked up in a limo and put up in a hotel in exchange for telling her as much on national television.
Of course, I said yes.
We did a pre-interview on the phone and my buddy’s girlfriend, the producer, asked the basic questions I was likely to be asked. I answered with humor and charm and I was to repeat this basic banter on the air. No problem. As we’re ending the conversation she says, ‘So after the first segment Carnie will say ‘and when we come back we’ll meet [me] who says he must sleep with Yolanda’ and then after the break we’ll come back and Carnie will say, ‘So, you must sleep with Yolanda’ and you will say, ‘yes, I must sleep with Yolanda’ and then we’ll do all those other questions I just asked you.
Okay? Gotta go.’
‘Wait a minute,’ I thought, ‘I never said I must sleep with anybody.’ So it’s the day of, and I’m still not really comfortable with the language. Would I sleep with Yolanda? Sure, if she was up for it. Did I have to? Was it absolutely imperative that this happen? Of course not. Besides, it made me sound desperate.
And if there’s one thing I hate it’s sounding desperate. This whole thing was starting to make me feel uncomfortable.
So there I was on stage in front of a live studio audience and the producer comes out and goes over what’s going to happen again. Then her boss, the executive producer, comes over and says the exact same thing, verbatim.
This was getting ridiculous.
I didn’t immediately respond, searching instead for a tactful way to bring up my concerns moments before taping. The execs must have seen the concern on my face because she looked at my friend’s girlfriend like she was about to get fired and said, ‘You’ve gone over this right?’
When she hesitated, the boss looked at me instead and in the most stern, ‘don’t mess with me’ broadcast voice said ‘You’ve gone over it now.’ She marched off stage. I look to my producer friend and meekly ask, ‘Couldn’t I just say I’d really like to sleep with Yolanda?’ She scrunches an apologetic face and says ‘Must.’
And when I heard Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips’ fame say ‘So, you must sleep with Yolanda?’
Time stood still. I looked out at the sea of faces. Regular American folk, suddenly and inexplicably riveted by my tawdry, speculative intimate life. I thought of the lyrics to ‘Hold On,’ one of Wilson Phillips’ most popular songs: ‘No one can change your life except for you, don’t ever let anyone step all over you.’
Would Carnie want me to follow this advice right now? If I said ‘Meh, I’m in if she is?’ what would they do? Would they stop rolling and scold me in front of this full house of strangers? What would Carnie Wilson do if I threw her under the bus? The truth is I would never find out because that was the moment that I discovered what a spineless media monster I am.
I didn’t just say the words, I said them like it was the most important thing I would ever do. ‘Yes.” I proclaimed, ‘Yes I must sleep with Yolanda!’ And that night I did, twice, and it was just so-so.
6. Lie Detector
I appeared on Jeremy Kyle (British version of Maury and Jerry Springer) in December 2015. I went on because 800-1000 pounds (we didn’t know the exact amount) was stolen from my mum’s wardrobe. My mum was saving it up for Christmas as a little extra for all of us since she has 5 children.
Our family isn’t a trashy family and we’re all just normal people, apart from my 25-year-old brother, who also just happens to be a substance addict with a serious drinking problem.
So of course when 800-1000 quid went missing we all knew it was him.
But of course, him being the addict scumbag he is, he denied it constantly and proclaimed his innocence. My parents were so angry at him and my dad was even close to kicking the life out of him. They basically said you’ve got 2 weeks to get out of the house, so my brother, knowing that he has nowhere to go and no money thought the best option to prove his innocence was to get in contact with the Jeremy Kyle show to take a lie detector test.
He calls up the show and they all interview us over the phone and a few hours later they call back and ask if we can come to Manchester in two days (we live in Northern Ireland so they would pay all the flights and all the taxis) and we said yes.
My brother was booked to fly over the day before us – the day right after he first got in contact with the show.
The producers of the show book a taxi to go to our house, collect us (just me, my sister, and mum) and drive us to the airport. They had the flight all sorted so getting over to Manchester was so smooth.
As soon as we got off the plane we got the taxi to the hotel. The hotel was pretty bad but you got free meals so I guess that was the only good thing about it. My brother, since he left the day before us, was not in contact with us and was placed in a different hotel.
We spent one night in the hotel and the very next morning the producers come to collect us.
We go to the studio, get searched, our phones and bags taken off us and put into this very nice room that even had a bathroom with a shower in it. We wait there for about one to two hours until we’re called for a sound check.
We basically just go onto the stage and test the microphones we will be using. Afterward, we’re sent back to our room and the producers come and talk to us and have already decided how the show will play out.
Basically, they put me in the audience for some reason and told me to shout out as much as possible, as Jeremy hates quiet people on his show because he feels like he wasted money bringing them on. They decided that my sister would come out first and do most of the talking because she was the most outgoing one of us.
They said our brother would then come out and Jeremy, my sister, and my brother would talk for a while before they’d bring my mum out and then read the lie detector results.
After an hour in the nice room, we were finally told that we’re going on the show now.
We went backstage and I was brought to the middle of the audience by one of the workers (one of the most awkward moments of my life – the audience just looks at you with pure disgust and laughs at you for just being on the show).
Jeremy then comes out and does a few takes of his opening lines, and then he calls out my sister onto the show. They talk for a bit, he calls out my brother, then my mum, and then reads the lie detector.
Of course, he was lying. The audience was so shocked that he was lying because he doesn’t look like an addict and speaks like a normal guy, but my family obviously knew he had stolen the money.
So of course, like a typical Jeremy Kyle victim, he denies it and says the lie detector is wrong.
Jeremy insults him for a bit and the show is over and we’re led straight out the door and into the taxi to the airport. The whole show lasted about 15 minutes. Of course, my parents, being as nice as they are, didn’t kick him out and he continues to live in our house and gets high and HE STILL DENIES HE STOLE THE MONEY.
We all just try to ignore his existence. We didn’t get any money for going on the show, all we got was the free hotel room for the night and the meals in the hotel.
Jeremy Kyle was just as big of a j^rkin real life as he is on the show.
He insulted the jumper I was wearing before the cameras even started rolling, and when I shouted out something from the audience, as I was told to do, about my brother stealing in the past, Jeremy Kyle turned around and gave me the dirtiest look ever and said ‘don’t you talk over me, this is the Jeremy Kyle show, I speak first.’
I just apologized and stopped talking. All in all, it wasn’t too bad of an experience though – the producers we talked to were the sweetest and nicest people I’ve met in a long time.
My girlfriend and I were visiting Chicago and had just gotten off the architecture tour boat. We were looking for a sandwich and there was a cafe underneath the NBC building. The cafe was closed, but there was a long line to get into the studio entrance.
The doorman asked if we want to watch the Jenny Jones show. For whatever reason, we said yes. We were escorted into a large waiting room. We sat there forever.
Eventually, a woman comes out and tells us about the show, ‘Missed Connections’ or something like that.
It was going to feature people who had a one nighter on spring break who they were going to reunite on the show. The people who had signed up in advance had been instructed to wear certain color clothes.
The woman encouraged people to get up to the microphone and be as controversial as possible. We were told once we sat down in the audience chairs that we couldn’t leave because they didn’t want empty seats.
We finally sit down, and there were cheerleaders on either side of the stage below signs that said ‘applause.’
The signs flashed on whenever they wanted a crowd reaction. It was awful. We wanted to leave. It took about 4 hours for the whole thing. To top it off, one of the boy bands from around 2000 was the ‘special guest’ and we all got free CDs.
I just wanted a sandwich. By the way, the show was atrocious and Jenny took time-outs for makeup and the people on stage were constantly being coached during breaks.
8. Paid Actors
My wife and I were down in Jamaica in the early 2000s and Jerry Springer was taping on our resort’s beach. They tape multiple shows in a day. Theoretically, they are supposed to blur your face if you appear on camera without signing a release.
This doesn’t apply to audience members, only to people caught on film in background shots of the beach. My wife and I never signed a release and we hung out in a hammock all day right next to the taping location.
A lot, if not all, of the ‘guests’ were paid actors.
At one point, we saw them rehearsing a verbal fight and then pacing off the physical confrontation. Springer had nothing to do with the planning. It looked like it was all up to the show’s director, and Springer would just come out and react to the foolishness taking place in front of him.
They had a segment about hypnotizing people. Ms. Texas was a guest on this show. She walked up to our hammock and started talking to us. Now, before you get any ideas, we are absolutely NOT the type of people that this sort of stuff happens to.
No ‘Dear Penthouse Letters, I never thought this would happen to me.’ We are not of the Beautiful People Master Race. So, needless to say, this was very odd to us.
After talking for about five minutes, she asked us to watch over her bikini.
She then proceeded to take it off and prance, and yes it was definitely a prance, over to the show. Now, this is weird on many levels. First, why is she asking a random couple laying in a hammock to hold her bikini when she could have just given to a production assistant.
Second, why was she even talking to us at all? It wasn’t like we happen to be in a convenient spot compared to where they were taping the show. The conversation was actually pretty normal. We asked about the Ms.
Nude competition and what she did for a living (shockingly, it was nude modeling and dancing). The entire Springer crew went to a foam party dance club after taping that night. The resort had a kind of act similar to a Jamaican themed circus for entertainment that night.
A large group of the female Springer guests kept yelling for the male contortionist to do various things on stage. It was an all-inclusive resort, so the drinks were HEAVILY flowing.
My wife and I were on Ricki Lake back in 1993. We were dating back then, we are married now. We told a lie to get on the show, saying that my cousin was too big a part of our relationship, and she wanted him out.
The real story is that my wife was born in Iraq but moved to America when she was still a baby. I was born in Iraq and moved to Canada before I was 5. She’s an American girl. I’m a Canadian guy. She has attitude, I’m passive.
She’s the one to go off on a car driver, I’m the guy who says, eh it’s all right. My cousin always hung out with us wherever we went. He would jokingly say I should grow a pair and he would stick up for me if my wife felt the need to yell at me.
I just don’t want to inconvenience anyone, especially not her since I was in love so I would go along with whatever.
So we took this premise and made it more serious, and Ricki Lake went with it. When we got there they placed us each in our own rooms and started with, ‘Well, she said if you actually stuck up for yourself and grew a pair of ball$ maybe you wouldn’t need your cousin,’ etc.
Basically, they separate you into private rooms, then they have producers come in and stir things up. She said this about you. He said this about you.
None of it was true, but when you have 6 people saying this to you in a closed room for over 30 minutes you start to believe that hey, maybe she did say something.
My wife took it way harder than I did. I was mad that they would outright lie to me about something my wife said to get a juicier story. I know I lied to get on but it wasn’t that far off from the truth.
So we went in there laughing but when we got on stage we were angry because of the lies the producers told.
I don’t remember all of the lies, but the one that has stuck with me is, ‘She just called you a wimp in the other room. She thinks you have no backbone and that is why you need your cousin to defend you.’
That struck me hard and I was pretty mad hearing that. I did not know that the producers were lying at the time. I believed every word they said, as did she. Looking back though, we still laugh about this and our daughter thinks this is the greatest thing.
10. All Dressed Up
My old neighbors were on the Maury show. While the basic story they featured was true, there was a lot of embellishment. The story was that the wife wanted the husband to quit his band and change his appearance.
For the show, the wife was given very conservative clothes and appeared much more serious than she ever was in real life. The man was dressed to look like a wild man. In real life, they were both somewhere in the middle.
They did some taped segments ahead of time and although the staff did not tell them what to say, the staff did suggest re-taping portions to make them ‘support the story more.’ It was a gentle prompting and they felt like they had to be dramatic to get on the show.
Their trip to the show was paid for.
They never saw Maury until they went out on the stage. The only interaction they had with him were those 15 or so minutes he questioned them. The husband, as expected, agreed to change his ways and they left the stage.
They were escorted from the building and headed home. The wife had to return the clothes she was given to wear on the show. They thought the trip was fun and worth it. I did not know this couple well but they loved that people who knew them saw the show and they said they would have done it again in a minute.
My sister was on Maury. The theme of her episode was ‘controlling boyfriends’ or something like that. The joke of it was she and her boyfriend were broken up when they got the call to be on the show so they got back together just to go on (they have an on-again and off-again relationship all the time anyway).
The whole thing is fairly scripted.
They told them what to say and do. They made it seem like they lived together and that she was his slave. In actuality, they both live with their parents and he doesn’t even own a car so they only see each other when she drives to him.
They both got paid a little bit of money (she just got compensated for her normal salary for the day, he got around $100 because he is unemployed). So far nothing has changed. They are still in an on-again-off-again relationship and no one has mentioned to her that they saw the episode so her life is literally no different.
I went to both shows as an audience member. Jerry’s crowd was kind of boring, which was disappointing because I love Jerry way more than Maury. Maury’s crowd was ABSOLUTELY INSANE. Before the show even started people were dancing and grinding in the aisles like it was a club.
It was 11 am on a Thursday. So much more fun. So if you’re gonna go be an audience member, go to Maury. Jerry is kinda lame. They also shoot Steve Wilkos in the same studio.