Analyzing the Operational Efficiencies of the Jerry Springer Show
I was watching Jerry Springer today (don’t judge me). The show was called “Hillbilly Fights”and there were two girl hillbillies (actually, just white folks with accents) fighting over a guy hillbilly. As usual, the audience gets into it and the hillbilly girls start fighting with the audience. There was an audience member that really got into it and traded blows with one of the girls. Then the audience member grabs the microphone and starts talking trash and starts riling up the audience. A drop of whisky would’ve turned that place into an all out battle royal.
The show lives off of this novelty factor built around outrageousness and it hasn’t gone stale when it should have two years after it got popular. Why?
I figure that there is a limit to how many variations of the love triangle and cheating spouse story. But the audience experience, it seems, is totally open ended. Back in the day, the audience got their word in at the end while goading the guests throughout the show. They can do whatever they want and I assume it’s the best part of being a studio audience member and the best part of watching the show. While I have no scientific proof, I think the audience is getting their word in earlier and earlier in the show and getting rowdier. In this episode, some audience member literally took control of the show – twice.
I think it’s by design. Years ago there were maybe two bodyguards, and now there’s an entire gang. It doesn’t take 12 burly men to hold off two skinny, albeit angry, guys from pounding each other. But if the show is conscientiously allowing the audience to participate earlier in the show, then it makes sense to have so many guys there in case everyone wants to get in on the action.
The show is moving into an interesting territory where the audience members are controlling their own experience. It’s kind of like choose your adventure and its fun to watch because sometimes the audience members are more interesting than the befuddled guests wondering why they didn’t go on Dr. Phil instead. But it also cedes ownership to the people who want it the most. And it frees up the show’s producers from producing the show to merely facilitating it – which is less time consuming and profitable.