Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
54

Jerry Springer's "Baggage" Is The Greatest TV Show Ever

In the Summer, I Tend to be More Attracted to WomenWould you rather go home with a man who had a nose job, must have his nipples bitten during sex and wants to get married and have children now-or one who lives with two tigers and ten pit bulls, must have lights on during sex and built a bomb shelter for the apocalypse?

Would you rather date someone who sleeps with his eyes open, whose job is his number one priority, and who lives with a former lover-or someone who talks during movies, whose mom comes before his girlfriends, and who's a "3-minute man"?

Would you rather date someone who slept with Anna Nicole Smith, is $500,000 in debt and dated a transsexual for two months-or someone who has never driven a car, has chronic halitosis, and has three kids by two baby mamas?

Or would you just say "screw it" and pick the more attractive one?

These questions are the heart of Baggage, the most compelling TV show nobody-and, really, we mean "nobody"-is watching.

Hosted by Jerry Springer, Baggage runs on the Game Show Network. It is as formulaic a show as there is on television. This is a bad thing and a good thing. It's bad thing because formulas are predictable and not that exciting. It's good thing because the formula is brilliant.

It's Baggage!

The show opens with Jerry Springer saying some variation of the following: "This is [primary contestant's name] and he's got a secret hidden inside this red bag. Was he engaged to three women at the same time? Did he leave his girlfriend for her niece? Or was he a male escort?"

There are other things you know will happen. Jerry will explain that the other three contestants have brought their small, medium and large baggage, each containing a secret-and of course, the bigger the bag, the bigger the baggage.  The primary contestant will feign concern at a benign baggage (once a contestant responded to the baggage "I've never voted" by saying, "I'm big into civic duty"). 

The DealBreaker round will occur, in which the primary contestant eliminates a contestant blindly by picking the most intolerable medium baggage. The show will introduce you to the term "medium baggage." The contestants will stand by one of the three bags and then switch places. This happens in every single episode, but the fake audience noise is always set to "surprised gasp" anyway. Jerry will tell the eliminated contestant it's time to pack up and go. The eliminated contestant will have a zinger ready.

Nice to Meet You

There will be a segment on the couch, which is called The Hot Seat, which will be sponsored by a company that spies on potential dates. The rest of the episode will be sponsored by another dating company. The two remaining contestants will cattily argue with each other and explain their baggages. The time between the revelation of the second and third baggage will be interminable, taking two commercial breaks. Finally the biggest baggage will be revealed, the two remaining contestants will make their final plea and the primary contestant will chose one who will then have the chance to judge him on his baggage.

At last, our attention is recalled to the first three possible baggages of our primary contestant. Only one is true, you see, and you find out at the end of the show which it is. Then the contestant explains away something like being engaged to three women with "I got caught up in the moment."

One time a story began, "I'm at a karaoke bar, Fourth of July weekend…" and concluded with the baggage "I slept with two sisters on the same day."

I Have Jesus Tattooed on My Back

If they want to go home with this person, they say "I accept your baggage." If they would prefer the consolation prize of a six-month subscription to an online dating site, they say, "You have too much baggage" and close the suitcase representing their baggage and shut the metaphorical clasps on their would-be relationship while also doing so on the literal suitcase.

The interesting happenings in an episode of Baggage are pretty much limited to the nine true baggages and two false ones, the people's reactions to them and explanations of them. If you own a DVR, you need to watch no more than ten minutes of any episode.

Costanza!

But some of the baggages are the kind of magical thing that, the more you think about it, the more delightful they become.

For instance:

I'm obsessed with death. I dated a serial killer (NB: this guy rejected a woman for having too-severe PMS). I have a webcam in my bathroom. I refuse to wear a condom. I date NBA players. I sleep with rats. I cheated on my ex with twin cousins. I'm bad in bed. I don't believe in foreplay. I refuse to raise my kids in America. I'm a grandmother. I used cocaine frequently at Studio 54. I wear adult diapers. I lost my virginity in a threesome. I text during sex. My homeless brother lives in front of my house. I have been to 32 Donny Osmond concerts. I'm obsessed with "The Rock." I buy panties at the 99-cent store. I pretend I'm famous to get laid. I dated a man in prison. My penis is crooked. I refuse to be on top. I've never said "I love you"…and I never will. I had a threesome with my girlfriends' best friends. I take my cat to a pet psychic. I cheated on my boyfriend while he was in coma. I cheated on my boyfriend with his teammate.

As with all games, there are some strategies. If all you want to do is win, the best way to go is to have Baggages that aren't really your fault. "I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder" is a good one. If you have to have something embarrassing from your past, at least seem apologetic about it-if you worked as a male stripper, let her know that you've closed the book on that chapter of your life. One thing you should not do is reveal secrets that show how untrustworthy you are. Cheaters and thieves tend not to do especially well, so unless you have a really good excuse, keep that story about the time you faked infertility to break up with a boyfriend to yourself.

I'm a 36-Year-Old Grandfather

However, if you are confident that your charm and good looks will take you to victory and you want to do so on your own terms, there are a number of ways to go with this. If selected, you have the chance to start a relationship where your three most abhorrent behaviors are implicitly tolerated-who wouldn't want that? So yes, let it be known that you want an open relationship, that you check your man's text messages, that he can't have any female friends, that you won't be cuddling, that you won't be faithful, that you're a dead fish in the sack and/or that your girlfriend is not allowed to chew gum and must be fully waxed. As another aside, you'd be surprised how often the obsessive controlling types are able to come away the winners.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS BREAK

Of the 38 episodes I was able to get my hands on, 27 resulted in a match. That's a 71% success rate. That seems high-on the other hand, these are the people who are desperate enough to be on a dating show on the Game Show Network, and their only obligation is to go on a date. When men have had the chance to choose whether or not to accept a woman's baggage, they have accepted it 14/17¹ times (82%), whereas when women have had the choice of whether or not to accept a man's baggage, they accepted it only 13/21 times (62%). This drops to 12/20 if we discount the special Cougar-themed episode because, come on, as if any of these poor self-identified cougars were going to reject something, anything with a heartbeat under the age of 30.

Figuring out what works and what doesn't is more art than science: one man was rejected for having been arrested eight times, whereas another was accepted even though he had been arrested 22 times.

I Dated a Man in Prison

The numbers do confirm a long-held scientific hypothesis though: men are willing to take a crazy but attractive woman 20% more often than women are willing to do the same. For example: a woman rejected a man who slept with his boss to get a promotion, but a man accepted a woman was abducted by aliens (twice). (Yes.) This disparity also forces one to consider the horrifying prospect that people are actually going on Baggage to find a long-term romantic partner.

Also, it's very much possible that much of Baggage is faked.

JERRY SPRINGER'S BAGGAGE: I SLEPT WITH A PROSTITUTE

The host of Baggage is Jerry Springer. He could not care less about Baggage, and the show is all the better for it. Do you think the guy whose parents escaped Nazi Germany, whose political career was derailed because he paid a prostitute by personal check², who decided that his floundering political talk show would be improved by going to the violent hillbilly soap opera format, cares at all about some dating show? Surely he does not.

It's still not really known how he ended up hosting the Jerry Springer Show, in its late format–remember, it was once a serious political talk show. Maybe having his political career ruined by a harmless encounter between consenting adults took any idealism out of him, maybe it was all the money, but Springer settled in as the well-paid host of a show he doesn't watch.

The Loneliest Baggage of All

That Jerry Springer does not get too worked up about the people on Baggage perhaps reflects that he's made well over 3,600 episodes of his eponymous show where his job is to moderate over such sessions as "I'm Dating My Son's Grandfather," "Baby I Screwed Up," and "You Took My Virginity!" Suddenly "I refuse to reciprocate oral sex" and "I'm a spokesman for an erection pill" look pretty benign.

Springer described Baggage as "a step up because the people here have teeth."

But there is something Jerry Springer definitely does care about–you. More specifically, your opinion of him. A former Mayor of Cincinnati disgraced by a scandal, he went into television after a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for the governorship of Ohio.

Jerry Springer was once a man whose career depended on large groups of people liking him personally and having as few enemies as possible. In 2003 when he was considering running for one of Ohio's Senate seats, a tour of the state quickly found that his 71% unfavorable rating-to that point the highest measured-would prove insurmountable.

Springer has made it clear he would jump at the chance to take a drastic pay cut for that one electoral victory that would wipe away twenty years of sleaze and bad reputation, or at the very least, allow him to command begrudging respect from the elites that have mocked him for so long.

Baggage: I'm at a Point in My Life Where I'm Looking for Love on GSN

But here he is hosting Baggage. One small stone on the path to respectability. Is this more effective than writing columns in Slate and hosting a lame show on CNN with Kathleen Parker? Probably not. But at this point, Springer must be resigned to the fact that he can never hold elected office, and with that resignation comes the calm that sets in when we give up on our dreams.

And that calm, non-judgmental indifference to other humans makes him the perfect host for a show about revealing embarrassing secrets! Baggage airs weeknights at 6:30. You can find episodes online here.


¹ One of three such rejections: "I put my cat before any man." Sorry, cat ladies.

² In a 1980 campaign ad for the Ohio governorship, Springer said, "Some nine years ago I spent time with a woman I shouldn't have and I paid her with a check. I wish I hadn't done that." Grammatically speaking, does "that" refer to the time spending or the check paying?



Jordan Carr is really getting into summer break.

54 Comments / Post A Comment

City_Dater (#2,500)

Anyone who has ever been set up by well-meaning but long-married friends or has had a profile on a dating website is far, far too familiar with this concept.

Hey, I'm obsessed with "The Rock," too. He's fuckin' fine, y'all!

cherrispryte (#444)

DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON IS INCREDIBLY ATTRACTIVE.

deepomega (#1,720)

HE IS ALSO VERY NICE. THE FULL PACKAGE!

HiredGoons (#603)

HE HAS A NICE PACKAGE?

hockeymom (#143)

I am not afraid to say I will drop whatever I'm doing when the Hannah Montana episode comes on where Hannah and her friend (Sparkle? Punky Brewster? Annoying-sidekick-girl?) dress up the Rock as Carmen Miranda.
THAT is funny.

"As another aside, you'd be surprised how often the obsessive controlling types are able to come away the winners."

"We're going to Scofield's for dinner and then dancing at The Bearded Clam" on the first date: He's confident!

"We're going to Scofield's for dinner and then dancing at The Bearded Clam" after three years of marriage: He's a controlling asshole!

petejayhawk (#1,249)

This is very, very true. Probably the truest comment in this thread.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

indeed: 1st date: awwww! deep into marriage: IDIOT.

(OKAY FINE PETE. ALL THREE OF US KANSAS CITY AWL COMMENTERS WILL MEET AT DAVE'S STAGECOACH/CHEZ CHARLIES/or if I'm feeling ageist and want to pull rank BOBBY BAKER'S
…or we could just default and meetup at a TANNER'S, PICK ONE.)

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Well if you're going to be like THAT…

Art Yucko (#1,321)

haha, just testing your mettle, Pete. I'm down (but I have to be home by 10 because I'm old, and please please don't get random and suggest someplace out at 151st & Black-Bob, I'm imploring you.)

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Waxy O'Sheas it is!

No, it is not. Somewhere downtown is good with me.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

The URL I requested could not be found?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

yeah, I took it down, sorry!- look to the end of the rollover for your answer.

HiredGoons (#603)

I wouldn't date anyone who DIDN'T do cocaine at Studio 54.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

This is where the *call me goes, yes?

cherrispryte (#444)

I love The Olds more than most people, but you've just pretty much eliminated everyone under 40. Are you sure you're alright with that?

HiredGoons (#603)

@cherri: 'I wouldn't date anyone who was at Studio 54 and didn't do cocaine.'

Sorry.

cherrispryte (#444)

@goons – ooooh. that was stupidity on my part, not a subtle attempt at grammar-nazism.

zidaane (#373)

If all the Awl commentators posted their baggage anonymously I'm sure it would be pretty spectacular.

deepomega (#1,720)

I cannot achieve arousal unless there is a photo or painting of Elvis in the room.

deepomega (#1,720)

SHIT THAT WASN'T ANONYMOUS?!

HiredGoons (#603)

Harry Dean Stanton for me.

iantenna (#5,160)

preferably velvet.

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

"Preferably Velvet" = the David Lynch sequel that ought to be.

garge (#736)

"I can't date anyone seriously who believes in God"

"Refusing to pop my imagined and/or psychosomatic backne is a deal-breaker"

"I regularly fantasize about Chief Justice John Roberts when having sex with people who aren't Chief Justice John Roberts"

Which is true???

lostdownunder (#1,728)

Forget baggage- what about the size of their package?

Chris Conroy (#3,983)

I would like to file a formal complaint with The Awl for running this piece too late in the day for me to frantically call my roommate and make him DVR this TONIGHT.

Otherwise: amazing. I kinda wish this show was just called "OKCupid," or that OKCupid would adopt a web-based version of this format for their profile pages wholeheartedly.

missdelite (#625)

All you budding writers now know where to send your resume.

cherrispryte (#444)

I thought "baggage" was a secret way of saying you've got AIDS. Or is everything Jonathan Larson's ever taught me a lie!??!!

cherrispryte (#444)

Um, also – WHAT IS A SEASONAL BISEXUAL?

Tuna Surprise (#573)

Negroni Season Bisexual, perhaps?

HiredGoons (#603)

something something hot and cold.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

A bisexual in a Santa hat.

Hopinfor6000 (#5,899)

A seasonal Bi-sexual: Someone who likes the beach at Fire Island or Provincetown,depending.

Do they have redcap service?

Carnage Hall (#5,633)

"I'm obsessed with death. I dated a serial killer. I have a webcam in my bathroom. I refuse to wear a condom. I date NBA players. I sleep with rats. I cheated on my ex with twin cousins. I'm bad in bed. I don't believe in foreplay. I refuse to raise my kids in America. I'm a grandmother. I used cocaine frequently at Studio 54. I wear adult diapers. I lost my virginity in a threesome. I text during sex. My homeless brother lives in front of my house. I have been to 32 Donny Osmond concerts. I'm obsessed with "The Rock." I buy panties at the 99-cent store. I pretend I'm famous to get laid. I dated a man in prison. My penis is crooked. I refuse to be on top. I've never said "I love you"…and I never will. I had a threesome with my girlfriends' best friends. I take my cat to a pet psychic. I cheated on my boyfriend while he was in coma. I cheated on my boyfriend with his teammate."

So which night was Lindsay Lohan on?

hman (#53)

Haha, Howie Mandel should sneak into the "Baggage" studios and swipe some of these suitcases for his own dumb show. That could make we watch "Deal or No Deal", I bet.

alorsenfants (#139)

This is apropos of nothing, and completely off topic… but I wish you guys were "open for business" more often?
Holiday weekends are still colorful, filled with drama (I myself became a grandfather last night — whoa) and need to be observed by bright people such as yourselves, or perhaps your friends?
Well who knows — I have a cool restaurant in a little town in VA, and I'm closed two days a week.
But you guys? In the Epicenter of the World? (They say.)

Best,

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Whatsamatta, nothing to do on weekends in Littletown, VA other than reading Ye Old Awl? Well, no such problems here in NYC! Kidding, I hear ya, but still… know whatumsayin? I know some other places that have gone all out for quantity and clicks and there are reasons I'm hiding out here now. Quality all the way, baby. Can't spare minutes "by the word". Not at my age, anyways.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Which little town?

ShanghaiLil (#260)

Just trying to follow the description of that show made me wonder if I was drunk. I mean, I don't think so, but it's always a possibility.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I settled for Baggies.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

I'll take the rectangular Jesus back tattoo for $400, Alex.

Crantastical (#4,127)

I think I once dated that nipple guy.

Bethb (#6,963)

Brand new video interview with Jerry Springer on the set of "Baggage" can be seen here: http://www.HollywoodJunket.com

This show looks like a 100% staged skit with professional actors. It's fun but everything about it feels contrived, scripted and set-up. It's nowhere near set-up as Jerry's regular show, a total fake-out. The only thing Baggage is missing is a shirt ripping brawl with fake strippers.

Cyndi Burrell (#186,986)

There was a guy on there named Nathan. He was a 33 year old virgin. I would love to meet him. I would love to find a man with those values and talk to him.

tbunting (#246,744)

I would like to know what days youvare aired on tv so i can record it

Di (#256,706)

OMG ….this show is sooooo addicting …..I record every episode & make it my night out just watching them ….

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