In the mid-to-late 1980s, Morton Downey Jr. popularized the notion that a talk show wasn’t complete unless the guests came to blows before the evening was out. And while Mort’s show flamed out pretty quickly, Jerry Springer would quickly pick up the idea and run with it, making it into a television institution that continues on low-rent talk shows to this day.
And it’s gone international! As John Podhoretz writes, “Now This Is Great TV — Via Bad Rachel, I present to you perhaps the finest piece of television of the 21st century and a peculiarly fascinating example of the freedom we’ve helped bring to Iraq:”
To be fair though, having a rumble in front of a chromakeyed backdrop is far better than institutionalized beheadings and amputations, so perhaps that actually is progress of a sort. Nobody said democracy — not to mention the medium of television — was pretty.