Aaron R. Davis
Of the many ways to rubberneck the decline of Western Civilization, one of the most irritating has to be watching Maury.
I think watching Maury must be the best gauge there is for whether or not you have too much time on your hands. Seriously, if you’re sitting at home, and you’re watching a 71-year-old guy sit in bemused judgment on low-income people arguing about paternity, you probably need more to do. If you’re watching this old man yell with faux-concern at teenagers who are too sexually active, coddle mothers who just can’t figure out how to control their own kids or exercise a bizarre double standard in which older women hooking up with younger men isn’t as noble and acceptable as older men hooking up with their granddaughter’s friends, you really need to get a job and do something constructive.
I know this, of course, because I have way too much time to fill and not enough of value to fill it with. I just … my gosh, I … okay, keep it together and move on.
Anyway, I’ve been watching Maury for a while now, and I think I’m just getting overloaded with lie detector results and paternity tests and that creepy “relationship expert” — not something you have to be certified in or even go to school to call yourself, by the way — who just stands up and yells at everyone.
Maury doesn’t quite have the sideshow aspect that Jerry Springer does, where Jerry invites the audience to just scream and hurl insults at the guests during his disingenuous Q&A session at the end of the episodes. And there isn’t the sanctimony of a Steve Wilkos Show or the extremely creepy “we’re only doing this to help peoples’ marriages, honestly, I swear” promotion of Cheaters. No, Maury doesn’t waste time coddling people into a position to embarrass themselves for the camera. Really, at some point, I think Maury Povich, former pioneer of salacious tabloid TV, just stopped pretending to give a damn about his guests and started setting himself up as a ringmaster.
The problem is, it’s the same circus over and over again: paternity tests, the occasional teenager who is far too sexually active for Maury’s tastes (I’ve always wondered if he just gets off trying to play father to these kids), more paternity tests, a racist or two, still more paternity tests, lie detector results about infidelity and finally, just to shake things up, some paternity tests.
I think, out of everything he does, my favorites are the paternity tests.
No, really: it’s not just because it’s his main go-to, but because everyone involved in the question of paternity — from the mother to the potential fathers — is completely, totally, road-tested, certifiably, 100-proof, USDA-inspected batshit insane.
You really are watching the fall of civilization here. And it’s not because there are enough cases of pregnant women who don’t know with certainty the identity of their baby’s father to fill programming on a single show for years and years and years. It’s because of the lengths these (possible) fathers are willing to go to in order to deny that they had anything to do with brewing up a batch of instant family.
I love the stupid excuses they’ll come up with to shun their responsibility as fathers. It makes me laugh in a sort of horrified way, because it’s so easy to look at the people who appear on Maury and understand why our infrastructure is crumbling around us. If these people half-ass repairing roads and hooking up cable boxes the same way they half-ass their parental duties, we are just totally screwed. There are a lot of stupid people out there.
Here’s just a list of some of my favorite excuses from the amateur biologists and geneticists who have appeared on Maury over the summer:
1. “That baby’s light-skinned and I have dark skin!” (Or, as it’s pronounced on Maury, “light-skinneded.”)
Dude, didn’t you ever do that assignment in science with the little boxes and the marks representing chromosomes? Just because you’re black and you’re dark doesn’t mean you can’t have light-skinned baby with, say, a light-skinned black woman.
2. “She was only a hook-up! It didn’t mean anything!”
Oh, is that how this works now? As long as the sex is casual, your body will know not to produce any fertile sperm to save you the trouble of having to care for a child you didn’t intend to have? That sounds like some bullshit out of The Secret to me.
3. “She’s just here to smear my reputation! I’d never hook up with her!”
Oooh, yeah you did.
4. “Just because she has one white kid and I’m the only white boyfriend she ever had, that doesn’t mean I’m the father!”
Wait, what? Did you think about how that sounded before you said it, or are you just using the time-honored “Click your heels three times and wish really hard” method of birth control?
But I think my all time favorite has to be this guy who was on a couple of weeks ago and just woke up one morning convinced that he wasn’t the father of his kid (and for context, this was the third child he’d had with this same woman). His reason? It came to him in a dream.
Yes, you read that right.
He just had a dream that his African-American girlfriend had had sex at some point with an Italian guy, and it convinced him that he wasn’t the father of his newest baby. You know why? Dig the flawless deductive logic that comes into play here:
“You know what they say: dreams can come true.”
By that logic, I should be hunting dragons from the Millennium Falcon and spending my days off in my mansion adjacent to Uncle Scrooge’s money bin while my three wives Tiffany, Samantha Fox and Teela from Masters of the Universe help me raise rabbits instead of a barely-employed substitute teacher wasting his life on Farmville.
Yeah, this guy just woke up and decided he wasn’t a father because he had a dream. He claimed. When the paternity results were read, he had this look on his face, this sort of smirk like “Yeah, you got me, I made that shit up.”
I’m guessing this guy didn’t have any good excuses for not doing his homework, either.
Can’t wait to see what our cities look like in the future with guys like this manning the grids …
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.