The Jeremy Kyle Show (2005-Present) has perhaps the worst reputation of anything I’ve ever talked about on this site. Accusations of classism and exploitation are persistently levelled at the show, and Jeremy Kyle himself is perhaps one of the most detested men in Britain. So, is The Jeremy Kyle Show really as repugnant as everyone thinks?
The Jeremy Kyle Show is a British tabloid talk show hosted by former radio presenter Jeremy Kyle. Each episode features a couple of stories, usually focused around infidelity, theft, or the paternity of a child. Kyle discusses the situation with his guests and then announces the results via a lie detector or a DNA test and attempt to negotiate the fallout.
I’m sort of surprised by my reaction to The Jeremy Kyle Show, I actually think the format is perfectly acceptable. Having a show which deals with family drama has the potential to be entertaining, educational, and beneficial to those involved. While the show’s guests are often ridiculed for being lower class louts, I think this is more a case of the guests representing fans of the show, not the working class.
That’s the only positive I have to say for The Jeremy Kyle Show; the format has some potential in the right hands. That’s the major issue though, the show isn’t in the right hands. Jeremy Kyle comes across like a shit supply teacher whose only tactic for controlling a rowdy class is to scream in their faces, tell them to shut up and remind them that it’s his show and he’s in charge. Kyle’s bigotry is something most people don’t seem to mention when talking about his show but I observed the following prejudices:
- Anyone who meets their significant other online is a loser
- Sex is something to be revered and anyone who engages in casual sexual relationships is committing a terrible crime
- Addiction is a sign of weakness and a serious personality flaw (Despite Kyle himself suffering from a gambling addiction which destroyed his first marriage)
- Anyone who has multiple children by multiple different partners, is a terrible parent
- Drugs of any kind are evil, marijuana usage is an indicator of laziness
- Claiming benefits and unemployment are cardinal sins
- Relationships that are open or at anytime involve more than two people or sexual activities that are considered ‘kinks’ are deeply perverse
Jeremy Kyle is a leftover from another time, the early 2000’s, when the above prejudices were commonplace and excepted, but as a host of a show dealing with sensitive issues, one would hope that he might have some sense of decency.
Kyle’s bigotry is not helped by his habit of shouting down his guests at every possible opportunity. I’ve a number of problems with this. The first is that its an incredibly aggressive act that displays nothing short of immense arrogance. Kyle is playing the role of an ineffective substitute teacher, desperate to earn the respect of his audience by mocking the trouble-makers, cracking poor jokes and, when confronted with unruly students, he responds in kind. Secondly, shouting over the guests means that often, their arguments aren’t heard and Kyle steals all the focus for himself; his concern is for himself not those he ought to be helping. Thirdly, these moments in the show are remarkably irritating. There are few things less appealing to experience on television that the sound of Jeremy Kyle berating a guest rather than attempting to help them in anyway. Kyle’s abysmal attitude is a major problem with the show.
Kyle clearly has some control over the show, after all, he is the star and so its only to be expected that things be structured around him and his skillset (limited though it may be). Because of this, any potential the shows format may have is tossed aside in exchange for shouting matches and objectifying the lower classes and their perverse lifestyles. Shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show are not inherently bad, but it depends entirely on the host. The Steve Wilkos Show has issues but Wilkos as a host has many things Kyle doesn’t; namely compassion, empathy, and a professional background. Wilkos was a police officer, a marine, and worked on The Jerry Springer Show, even stepping in every now and then when Springer was unavailable. Wilkos knows how to deal with difficult people, he knows how to spot a liar, and he knows how to deal with victims. Jeremy Kyle has no law enforcement or counselling experience, it seems he only got the job as host because of his time as a radio host and his ability to highlight the very worst parts of his guests.
The flaws of The Jeremy Kyle Show do not stop with Kyle himself, the editing is abhorrent. No doubt its due to the time the show is aired, around 9am, that precautions must be taken to censor swearing. That’s fair enough but the camera cuts away from people using bad language, so often the show’s editing is frantic and irritating. I assume this is because the producers don’t want to show anything that might result in complaints, The Jeremy Kyle Show is likely skating on thin ice as it is, but it’s just such a mess. The same goes for physical altercations, the camera cuts away from them too and gives us reaction shots from the audience instead. The editing problem highlights the hypocrisy of The Jeremy Kyle Show; they want to air early in the morning to appeal to the same demographic that makes up the guests, often unemployed people or part-time workers, but the content is the sort of thing that would benefit from a post-watershed airing. Airing the show at, say, 9PM, would mean the editing needn’t be so strictly regulated and the topics could be darker and seedier. Either go hard or go home.
The Jeremy Kyle Show has a format with some potential but an unlikable and untalented host, as well as strictly imposed editing rules, make it the whole thing feel half finished. There are far better shows of this sort.