The Downfall of Dr. Phil

Last week, Dr. Phil McGraw, renowned television psychologist, was called to the hospital where pop diva Britney Spears had been admitted, in order to offer her his professional support. When Dr. Phil subsequently made their conversation public, and attempted to build a show around their private interaction, the Spears family became incensed.

This Dr. Phil episode, in fact, has been scrapped because of criticism from fellow psychologists. This publicity stunt represents the last straw for many of Dr. Phil’s faithful viewers, who have become increasingly disappointed in the content of his television show.

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Dr. Phil began his rise to fame after helping Oprah Winfrey when in 1995 she became involved in a lawsuit with the Beef Council in Texas for comments she made on her popular television show. Winfrey was impressed with Dr. Phil, and invited him on her show where he began to appear weekly.

Dr. Phil’s advice on Oprah’s show was generally very sound and made a lot of sense to a lot of people. His in-your-face, “how’s-that-workin’-for-ya?” style was humorous, refreshing, and soon endeared him to many viewers. In 2002, as a result of the relationship between Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey (and her Harpo Studios), Dr. Phil began his own syndicated show that was an expansion of his weekly visits on Oprah which was an immediate hit.

Since that time Dr. Phil has filled the airwaves with advice doled out to people ranging from a lady that would rather have her dog in her bed than her husband, to mothers-in-law that are too involved. Everyday people felt comfortable writing to the Dr. Phil show with their problems, and stood a good chance of being on his show because, in fact, they were everyday people.

However, as of late, Dr. Phil’s shows have been rife with people that more appropriately belong on episodes of Jerry Springer than Dr. Phil. He has orchestrated chaos by putting people together in his ‘Dr. Phil house’ to see how they respond. He invites rabid enemies on the show in an attempt to help them ‘work through things,’ when all they end up doing is fighting.

Sadly, much of the advice on these sensational Dr. Phil episodes is no longer usable by the majority of Americans. I fail to be entertained by the problems and arguments of others when, in the end, nothing is achieved. The reason I, and many Americans, tuned in to Dr. Phil was because of the universal applicability of his life strategy principles. I daresay that it is the reason Oprah supported him to begin with. I am disappointed in the change I’ve seen in Dr. Phil. At least I now have more space on my TiVo.


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