Q & A About Maury








Q & A About Maury

Q.  Why did you write a book about this show?
A.  I’ve long been a fan of the show. I like the dram of the episodes, especially the paternity episodes.

Q.  What makes it an “institution”?
A.  It’s been on the air for over a generation. Even people who don’t watch the show are familiar with it. When Maury Povich is just walking down the street, people will shout, “I’m not the father!” because the program is so famous.

Q.  How did you research the book?
A.  I had already seen many episodes because I was a fan but I watched more to write the book. I contacted and interviewed people who had worked on the show and people who had been guests on the show. I researched through the Internet and read magazine articles and newspaper articles.

Q.  Maury has often been called “trash TV.” Is it trash?
A.  Whether it is a fascinating show or trash a matter of opinion. I don’t argue with those who dislike the program and call it trash. However, unlike The Jerry Springer Show, which just takes people at their word, Maury employs staff to check out the stories they are told to ensure they are not being fed fiction posing as truth.

Q.  What categories do its episodes fall into?
A.  Phobia episodes feature people wanting to overcome irrational fears of things like peaches, flowers, or chewing gum; triumphing over tragedies or children being bullied due to deformities or injuries; makeovers; sharing secrets; suspicions of infidelities or stealing or something else that could get someone in some kind of trouble; controlling men and their downtrodden girlfriends or wives; and, most famous, shows in which paternity is disputed but resolved through DNA tests.

Q.  What is the most popular category?
A.  Far and away the paternity test shows. It dramatizes the truism of life, “Mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe.” They are popular because they are dramatic and because a great deal is riding on them.

Q.  It often uses polygraph tests. Are these reliable?
A.  There is a great deal of dispute about that. It is a certainty that they are nowhere near as reliable at DNA test. Different studies have come to vastly different conclusions as to their reliability. They can give both false negatives and false positives. Studies have found error rates as high as 40%, making them not much better than flipping a coin. There are studies showing 98% accuracy — and that is the figure Maury Povich cites when asked about their reliability.

Q.  Why is the program so long-lasting and popular?
A.  Because it speaks so powerfully to basic human problems and foibles. Because it shows real people whose lives can be changed because they overcame a phobia or learned of a partner’s infidelity.

Q.  Is there anything especially good about the show?
A.  There are many who would disagree with me about this but I think Maury Povich actually cares about his guests. I also think the show helps people by such things as establishing paternity. Children might grow up in more stable situations because the show proved who a father was.

Q.  Why should people read this book?
A.  To learn what went into the making of one of the most popular and influential television shows in history.

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