Declaring Their Independence: Why Talk Show Television Is Losing Its Viewers!


Fourth of July seems like the appropriate time to address why so many viewers are aggressively breaking away from conventional "talk show" television and moving towards alternate means of entertainment. No doubt, part of the defection is merely a measure of circumstance. The dominance of technology in all of our lives certainly feeds to the expansion of online and mobile entertainment. That said, I can't help but wonder if the redundant nature of talk show television today is more of a contributing factor than we previously realized.

Certainly, I am not the only one who has noticed that a great deal of what we are watching from the talk show circuit is nothing new when comparing one show to the next. Many of the stories and interviews offered are rather repetitive, with much of the audience being pigeonholed as derelicts, weight obsessed, or catty gossip mongers.

Obviously, not every talk show warrants such severe criticism. Talk shows such as The View, Chelsea Lately, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Doctors, The Colbert Report, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show (just to name a few) have crafted well deserved positions in the "talk" arena due to their clever natures and independent thinking. But there are many more that have not, and without the few that have, I hasten to guess that these others would have little to talk about past the first day of taping.

Reality television is the same, mind you. It might, actually, be a bit worse as most of this genre features illiterate individuals whose bad behavior continues to correlate with fame in our young people's minds...over and over again. It's no wonder half of the kids who graduate college in 2013 will never read another book from cover to cover again. Why would they, when their role models -- many of whom can barely count -- are banking millions for just that.

As history is the best of all teachers, our nation's celebration of Independence Day can stand as a staunch reminder of what happens to those that sell their audience short. The dissatisfied will break away and then stay away. I hasten to think this is one of the main reasons new series such as "The Daily Shot With Ali Wentworth" or my own series, "Four Star Family Recipes", are experiencing such rapid success. The response to my most recent episode -- where I mixed potato casserole with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" video -- ignited fireworks and a heck of a lot of new followers to join my fan base.

No doubt, what brought that combination to mind is unique to my particular personality. That said, the desire to inform and entertain the audience beyond the "same old, same old" shouldn't be. I believe, the real battle that current talk show television is facing is an internal one, and it hinges on originality, an innate understanding of the audience, an in depth interest in the larger world past the first headline, and the conscious choice to trade the "easy shot" for the one that makes a difference.

The lack of those key elements combined makes conventional talk show television its own worst enemy. The few that will continue to survive will do so because they value their audience and respect themselves beyond what "easy" can provide. Thus, they've declared their own independence and invited their loyal colonists to join them and spread the word. And for this, they will be celebrating both "hearty abundance" as well as many more Independence Days to come... as well they should. Don't you think?

Happy 4th of July everyone! Let freedom reign... and talk show television improve... One nation under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.