I rarely watch live television. On average, I think it’s about 20 minutes per week. That’s usually when I’m cooking dinner or chilling with flatmates. I rarely watch live television because I want to watch programs very intentionally. I want to choose what I watch and when I watch it. And so, there are some things that I personally avoid. One thing that I never watch are talkshows. I think they suck. At least, in the form in which I know them. Here’s why talkshows suck.
One against one
The first reason why talkshows suck is the one-against-one set-up. If there’s a particular subject on the agenda, there’s always an opponent sitting at the table, and also someone who’s in favor of the thing they’re discussing. This set-up creates a clash, which is exactly what the directors of the show want. It’s sensational. But this creates an image that is unfair. This division does not reflect reality. A great example is climate change. Especially a few years ago, talkshows would invite two scientists to talk about climate change. One believed climate change is caused by humans, the other person did not. When you’re watching, you might think: both arguments sound logical, I don’t know what to believe anymore. This image is totally wrong, because 99% of scientists believe that climate change is caused by humans and 1% does not. The talkshow, however, makes it seem like this is 50/50.
And the same can be the case when it comes to the public opinion. A good example is abortion. When you put someone who is against the right on abortion across someone who is in favor of that right, it creates sensation. As a spectator, you might think that some people are against it, and some are not. 50/50. However, 75% of people in The Netherlands are in favor of the right on abortion. Talkshows create a wrong image, while they’re just there to create sensation.
Inviting the wrong people
Then the next issue. Talkshow have a tendency of inviting people which say horrible things. There’s always someone with a controversial opinion sitting at the table. Usually that is fine, because I’m not saying we should censor everybody who has an opinion which is hard to hear. However, there has to be a line. Right now, talkshows are broadcasting racists, sexists, ablists and what more. I think it’s just unethical to give these people a seat at the table. Yes, we have freedom of speech, which I am grateful for. However, there’s a difference between having freedom of speech and giving the wrong people a stage. You’re just amplifying their messed up opinion. I think media have the duty to filter these people from the conversation. Nobody should be able to say racist things on television.
Not everybody’s opinion matters
Then another thing which annoys me very much. The wrong people are given a seat at the table at talkshows. It’s usually already famous people sitting at the table. People from the entertainment industry: musicians, influencers and presenters. But also politicians. That’s because these people know how to act on tv. But they are random people who are only invited because they’re famous. These people usually don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just spitting out their opinion. They speak from their feeling, instead of the truth. Consequently, we rarely see people on television who actually know something about the subject that is being discussed. Experts, scientists, professors, etc. People who can say something about the bigger picture and nuance their opinion. People who know about the numbers and statistics.
A good example here is the topic of refugees. I’ve heard people say things like: ‘it’s unfair that refugees are getting a home in the Netherlands, while my children are on a waiting list. It’s unfair that these people get priority for social housing’. People watching will have empathy for that person. However, aside from the 100 other messed up things about that statement, it’s just not true. Only 7,9 of social houses in The Netherlands go to refugees. And this is just one example. People in talkshows say things based on their feelings all the time, while these things are factually false. This amplifies misinformation.
Based on current affairs
Then the last reason why talkshows suck: they’re usually based on current affairs. Something that was said by a controversial politician, a horrendous crime that was commited, a new book that was released, a house that was burned, and the list goes on. In talkshows trends or numbers are rarely discussed. And so, talkshows leave the bigger picture aside. That bigger picture and a more nuanced story takes time to tell. And talkshows do not exist to tell that story, they’re not built to actually show how nuanced a story is, or to show the long background. Talkshows exist to get as many spectators as possible. The things discussed in talkshows are usually things that are forgotten in a week or month from now. I personally don’t want to waste my time on these current events. I want to dive deep into something and truly understand it.
Those were the reasons why talkshows suck, at least in my opinion! What do you think?