“Producers think of every Maury segment as a three-act play. Tiffany’s suspicions were the subject of Act I. ‘We haven’t had sex in over a month,’ she complained. Harrison-Hall turned to us with her mouth open and we yelled, ‘Ohhhhh!’ Tiffany’s neighbor, Candice, rose from the front row to say she’d seen women entering Cornelius’s studio at night. We applauded.

“After a time, Tiffany’s boyfriend, Cornelius, appeared from backstage. This was Act II. Cornelius wore the expression of a lot of Maury men — guilty but defiant. He found himself confronted not only by Tiffany but by Maury’s in-house private investigator, Wendy Kleinknecht. Kleinknecht is a tall blonde who looks like Erin Brockovich. She had taped Cornelius with another woman — the decoy. We watched Cornelius ask the decoy, ‘You want to get fucked tonight?’

“This was fun but it could have aired 20 years ago. We’ve seen a thousand talk shows with a thousand Tiffanys and Corneliuses. It’s in Act III that Maury shows how it has mastered the 21st century. What Act III of every Maury segment requires now is a denouement. Reality shows call this moment the ‘reveal’; Maury producers call it ‘truth.’”

Bryan Curtis and Grantland go behind the scenes of Maury Povich’s daytime show. Read more on TV from the Longreads Archive.


Photo: mauryshow.com

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