UPDATE: Dr Phil Show Aired Friday May 13 and we caught it here. The article below as written by me back in February. Today Anna and I watched the show along some EDC viewers on streaming video. We held a chat and video commentary before and after and will be posting that here on the website soon.
Dr Phil Mail Order Brides Show Disaster
Will it never end? Will every media spectacle about men marrying women from other countries be anything less than a showcase for worse-case-scenarios? Will they ever let go of the mail order bride label? I’m in mourning over this show – only because I had such high hopes that Dr. Phil would rise above it and “Get Real”.
Anna and I were guests in the front section of the audience fully prepared to participate in the show. The senior associate producer contacted us and began the process. We interviewed with three of their staff. We submitted all of the information they requested. We were coached that our part may not be long since there was no original plan for having a “successful couple” being represented in this segment on “Mail Order Brides”. That should have been my first clue pointing to where this was headed; but I still had hoped for better from Dr. Phil, based on his reputation.
However, his staff found extreme examples to parade on stage; re-enforcing the worst stereotypes. I shouldn’t really blame them. I’ve come to understand that controversy sells, and they have a job to do.
First to the stage was David. This guy was an over-the-top control freak. He tried controlling what his wife said – and even what Dr. Phil would say. Dr. Phil commented on stage that his behavior put him in the top 1/10th of 1% of extreme controllers that he’s ever had on his program. But the subconscious message was clear: guys who can’t find a woman to tolerate their horrible behavior go overseas to find subservient women.
Next up were two unattractive men in their mid 60’s. One of which appeared to be over 400 pounds! They were both defying the warnings of everyone around them by going on the hunt for hot young wives. The subtle message here was: losers who can’t find a woman at home go overseas.
All three of these men spent a lot of their air time bashing women at home. They repeatedly used exaggerated generalizations to demonize every female in North America. Come on guys – your mom would be included in that group. The message; bitter men go overseas to avoid their own issues.
The final element of the show detailed how the overweight guy had a previous marriage where his wife left him after he sold everything to pay for her lung transplant. The other guy in his 60’s had been tied up and robbed at gunpoint. The message here is that it’s a hostile environment outside of the US and people who leave will get what they deserve.
Anna and I had less than one minute and I said, “Dr. Phil, although I appreciate the entertainment value of what has been presented here, there are a vast majority of us who met our wives overseas are caring and devoted men.” Anna simply commented that we’ve been married for more than three years and that we’re very happy together. That was it and the show moved on. I’m not even sure if our comments will make it on the final edited version that hits the air.
You are my friends and I need to share this with you. I felt wounded by this episode. I think all good Catholics feel the same way when the media pounces on a priest who is accused of molesting a child. Most Catholics are good people. Most priests sacrifice their lives for a noble cause and never cause harm to anyone their entire lives. But they are all muddied by the association of these molestation stories.
I don’t know that we’ll ever get past the “Mail Order Bride” stigma or the stereotype – but I am not one to sit back and let the good couples stand idly by and just take the assault. I am so intensely motivated to find a way to come back swinging. I’m just not sure what I can do.
Perhaps someday someone will present an incredibly romantic story about a boy meets a girl from differing cultures and how their love survives all prejudices. Wait. I think that was Romeo and Juliet. I’m just going to have to write my own happy ending – and I hope you do too.