It takes a village to raise a child, and my village was populated by the familiar faces of daytime television. Jenny Jones, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael — in some form or another, these shows made me who I am. How else would I know that a high school nerd could decades later get revenge on their popular classmates by not only getting hotter, but inviting them to a television show for the world to see? Where else could I have learned about club kids? One of my first memories of racism was watching a rerun of this episode of Jerry Springer about a family of Klansmen. All important milestones in my life.
This is why it pains me to read the news that after three decades, this will be the final season of Maury. Though initially reported as the show being cancelled, Deadline has clarified that the decision was a mutual agreement between Maury Povich, a man who is somehow 83 years old, and NBCUniversal.
Of course, this makes total sense. Maury (which was initially known as The Maury Povich Show) is one of the last of its kind. Premiering in 1991 (the year I was born), the show spent the better part of 30 years highlighting the worst behavior humans could exhibit. It’s where I learned that teens could get pregnant — that some, in fact, really wanted to get pregnant — and that an audience of adults would prefer to boo them off stage and send them to bootcamp rather than provide any care. This might sound like I am saying Maury was a show that shouldn’t exist and that we are better off without it,but despite all the harm it has likely caused, it also provided me with deep comfort. Staying home from school was something I did often, and the block of the afternoon that aired Maury lulled me into a sense of calm. Till this day, just hearing his voice and the specific quality of sound from that show makes me feel like I’m on a well-deserved break.
This format of daytime television, while still present on air through syndication and reruns, is probably best left to the warm glow of my memories. Maury itself has felt stale and predictable for a long time — every single episode is about paternity and no longer features people confronting their fear of pickles. To me, the death of Maury is the end of a very exploitative era that no longer exists in the same way. Social norms have progressed for the better in many ways, but I believe we should all be allowed to carry a few wildly irresponsible entertainment artifacts in our hearts? I will always cherish Maury for how he expanded my young mind to the possibilities of the world, with a twinkle in his eye and the results of a lie detector test in his hands.