Why Is 'Maury Povich' Still on the Air?

DNA tests, baby-mama drama and declarations of, "You are NOT the father." Enough already. It's time for us to clean up our own side of the street.

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Bennett Raglin/WireImage

When did "It takes a village to raise a child" turn into, "Maury, I am 100,000 percent sure that he is the father"? Admittedly, this has become one of TV's most recognizable catchphrases. The Maury show produces the same manufactured nonsense of baby-daddy drama by following its if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it formula. Since 1998, it's been serving up the same old, same old as black folks line up in droves to humiliate themselves on TV:

1. Invite a woman--any woman, ranging from the zany and boisterous to the meek and suspicious--who's got a hankering to publicly prove that her boyfriend/husband/ex/fling/supposed baby daddy is the father of her child. Extra points if she's an extra-extroverted exhibitionist.

2. Bring out the man she is calling the father, who then completely denies that he could be the child's father. Displays of complete disrespect and utter contempt highly desirable. Even better if he starts calling her a slut.

3. Let them both state their cases and air their dirty laundry with what always proves to be the biggest act of foolery, whether it be cartwheeling across the stage in celebration or having the suspected father get a haircut with "I am not the father" penned in his head.

4. Cut to commercial.

5. Maury pulls out a big manila envelope and reads the nail-biting, DNA-test results: "You ARE/ARE NOT the father!"

6. If he is the father, the woman does a celebratory I-told-you-so dance.

7. If he is NOT the father, the woman runs backstage screaming and crying, and then is comforted by Maury who asks, "Could it be anyone else?" The putative father does his celebratory I-told-you-so-dance.

8. Six weeks later, the woman reappears with another potential baby daddy, and the sordid cycle repeats.

Pretty ridiculous? Yes, of course. But for many daytime-television watchers, it's become a guilty pleasure. According to Broadcasting & Cable, viewership has increased 49 percent over last year, with daily viewers averaging 3.4 million per episode. In particular, viewers in that vaunted 18-34 demographic are watching; viewership among that age group has increased 44 percent in the last year. Apparently, viewers can't get enough of the Emmy-winning talk show, tuning in daily to see what amounts to an hour-long episode of You Are Not The Father.

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