‘Baggage,’ the Ultimate Modern-Day Dating Show
In an era saturated with alternative facts and fake news, the program’s brutal, sometimes repulsive transparency should be an inspiration.
By Terry Mooney, Ohio State University
Jerry Springer is notorious for his rather violent, exceptionally trashy television show, “The Jerry Springer Show,” which often portrays crumbling relationships riddled with infidelity, prostitution and other various forms of low-life scandal.
If the show is an accurate portrayal of modern America’s standards of a typical, healthy relationship, then surely the country is barreling toward hell at an ever-increasing speed, and everyone is doomed to a lifetime of relationships ridden with STIs and affairs with transgender strippers.
But, wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a way to avoid the tragic endings to the relationships on “The Jerry Springer Show”? If there was a show that allowed people to expose their worst flaws, habits and misdoings to their potential partner before they started dating, then there would likely be a lot fewer people on national TV complaining that their girlfriend is also sleeping with their dad.
Luckily, that show exists.
It’s called “Baggage,” and guess who hosts it? That’s right, Jerry Springer. And, despite the fact that the show ended in 2012, it still stands as the best modern-day dating show on television.
Most people reading this most likely haven’t seen or even heard of “Baggage,” because it airs from 2-3 a.m. on weekdays, so you have to have a good deal of baggage yourself to even be awake to watch it (i.e. my roommates and I), so I’ll give you a little rundown on how it works.
The program starts with a contestant, man or woman, who has experienced some trouble in the dating world and has thus, as one tends to do, turned to the capable hands of Jerry Springer and the highly regarded Game Show Network to find love.
Jerry introduces them to the crowd and then presents the contestant with three potential dates, each equipped with three pieces of luggage—small, medium and large—with each piece of luggage containing some form of personal “baggage.”
The first, and smallest piece of luggage contains the owner’s smallest piece of baggage, with each bigger piece containing a slightly bigger example of personal baggage. The first piece of baggage can elicit various reactions depending on its content, ranging anywhere from, “I can overlook this,” to “I wouldn’t introduce you to my parents,” to “Hey, weren’t you that guy on the sex offender flyer I got in the mail?” The purpose of the show is to allow the contestant to be fully aware of exactly what they’re getting themselves into with each potential lover, as some are inevitably going to have more baggage than others.
For example, “I’m an avid nail biter” is baggage that one could most likely overlook, while “I’ve attempted to murder my last three boyfriends” stands as a little more of a red flag. However, it is this candor that allows viewers to look past the show’s seemingly trashy disposition to see its true nature, one rooted in refreshing honesty and total transparency.
The show has introduced me to some of the most bat-shit insane people I’ve ever seen in my life, people with more baggage than a family of six headed on a two-week vacation. The baggage can vary anywhere from “I eat dog food for money” to “I enjoy full-blown clown sex,” and just about everything in between. After each potential date reveals their first piece of baggage, all three of them sit down, while their second piece of baggage is revealed anonymously.
The contestant then eliminates one potential lover based on which piece of baggage they deem to be the most concerning (i.e. “I make jewelry out of my own teeth and skin”). Eventually, the contestant selects the individual they deem to be the least likely to spend the rest of their life rewriting the Book of Revelation in feces in an insane asylum.
But, here’s where the twist comes in; now it’s the contestant’s turn to reveal his or her biggest piece of baggage. This can really mix things up. For example, a man can expose himself on national television as someone who has a tendency to “sleep with a life-size cutout of Britney Spears” and “eat dirt,” and still get selected by the woman contestant as her date, only to then have the woman drop a god-damn bomb by revealing her literal baggage: “I have a penis.”
Who could have seen that coming? Certainly not our unsuspecting potential lover, but isn’t it still better that he found out now, rather than a few months into their relationship? By taking all their baggage and putting it on the table, these potential lovebirds are given the gift of avoiding future heartbreak.
And, who better to take the reigns and commandeer this incredible example of personal transparency than the king of baggage himself, Jerry Springer?
Jerry served on the city council of Cincinnati from 1971 to 1974, before resigning after admitting to hiring a prostitute.
However, in sticking with the deeply-rooted ideals of “Baggage,” Jerry’s honesty about his involvement with a prostitute helped to re-launch his political career, winning him his seat back in 1975, and eventually the position of mayor of Cincinnati in 1977. He even referenced his purchasing of a prostitute in TV commercials when he ran for governor of Ohio in 1982, claiming that he was not afraid of the truth, “even if it hurts.”
Despite the fact that he lost this election (because let’s face it, sometimes someone’s baggage is just too much to handle), his honesty on national television set the standard for “Baggage” contestants eager to find love and acceptance themselves.
In a world that seems to be increasingly filled with “alternative facts” and fake news, a dating show that bears itself openly to the world in an honest expression of flaws, quirks and personal baggage is not only refreshingly forthright, but maybe exactly what the country needs.