Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moment of Truth Show Affects Family Dynamics

I stumbled on "The Moment of Truth" show on Fox TV back in April before I received a call in May from one of their casting directors in South Florida. Back to the show ... morbid curiosity took over as I watched contestants compete to tell the "truth" for the grand price of $500,000 based on previous polygraphed questions. If their response elicited "That answer is FALSE" - they lost all the money won. The contestants seem to be regular folks, single, married, working class, stay at home moms (SAHM) and upstanding citizens. The juiciest bits come from married contestants who answer to intimate details of their lives. I wondered why they are willing to destroy their families on national TV.

The call from the South Florida casting director was a surprise to me. They googled my marriage preparation classes site and contacted me about announcing their casting in Miami. They were looking for young engaged or married couples to go on the show. The director was polite and I of course said I'd review their emailed information. As I watched episodes afterwards, I could not in good conscience recommend the show to my couples. Telling the "Truth" has a limit - even for Christians. The medical motto "Do No Harm" applies to the mental health field and my legal and ethics class drummed it into our heads. The show relies on "Truth" for ratings based on how much pain the contestant drags their loved ones through sordid disclosures. Contestants admit affairs, job violations (EMT falsified reports), lying to the government, arson, robbery, perversion, and revelations of resentment to unsuspecting family members. Recommending the show to young couples would do more harm than build their young relationships.

Classic advice given to folks admitting a sexual affair is to tell the truth to the wronged spouse without expounding on the details on frequency, locations, positions etc. The wronged spouse might demand details but it does not benefit either of you - it prolongs the pain and gives them a vivid image to associate with your betrayal. Michele Weiner-Davis has some incredible articles on her website on divorce busting concerning infidelity.

Spilling the beans on national TV does not make you a hero. If anything, I think "Moment of Truth" justifies its existence by making contestants seem slimy for hurting their loved ones on TV. By the time they win $100,000, the body language of the spouse or significant other often indicates rejection and shock. Some marriages end, relationships break up and contestants risk losing their jobs based on their disclosures. The show makes for good TV and bad family dynamics.

Building a healthy relationship requires honesty and truth layered in loads of love. The world does not need to know sordid details of your personal life - if anything people respect you less. Lesson here: if you are a young engaged or married couple, think carefully before jumping into the reality show biz for a bit of money to start your family. The experience might leave you with nothing including your loved one who you wanted to build a future with. If you have sordid details to disclose chose carefully who to share them with. Remember that details are best when brief and edited, timing is essential and your motivation should be to build the relationship and not just purge your sin or guilt.


  1. Thanks Julia for being so honest and forthright regarding the show - we need more people like you in this world! I watched this show twice and came to the same conclusion that it is definitely not helping build marriages rather break them - what a sad reality! Anyway, proud of you for standing up for what you believe even though this would have given you some major advertising benefits - thanks for being an example! Love ya gal! Marilyn

  2. It's always good to hear of a student who applys what she has learned in the classroom! Speaking the truth can be admirable but it can also be selfish, as in hurting others for financial gain. We are to "speak the truth in love" and that is what you have done in this article. You make your ol' prof proud! Dr. Sale

  3. Great comment Julia! I am appalled by this show. Of course I have watched in morbid curiosity as well. I would never ever ever ever go on it. I think it shows a complete lack of respect for your family members. Glad that you didn't contribute people to be sacrificed.

  4. Julia,
    I totally agree with you. The fact that the show asks such questions to someone shows that 1) they are not looking at the best interest of the contestant, albeit they will be given money if they win, and 2) there is no respect for marriage in the showbiz world. It is all about the ratings. Somehow, we should have control of what is aired to us and our families on TV. If you don't agree with a certain TV show, let's not watch them and their ratings will go down. There is no reason why we should be making these guys profit from such unscrupulous and disrespectful shows! Again Julia, thank you so much for what you are doing to impact positively our marriages. God bless!- Naomi Mwangi, Dallas, TX.

  5. I have had that the lure of the spotlight can be extremely seductive and at the risk of sounding redundant I agree entirely.
    One of the first things I was taught when I landed in film school is that every scene must have drama. Combined that with our fascination for sex and relationships and in truth...em...em...moment of truth makes great business sense. It's like peering over your neighbour's fence to peek over their dirty laundry with the polygraph (how it upholds a reputation as a lie detector when it only measures arousal is beyond me?) giving one a perception that somehow the truths are well....truer.
    With all due respect though, I think even discussing the show any further does more harm than good as it feeds into one of the most powerful PR tools, controversy.
    And btw, wow, great search engine optimization. If tv producers found you online you must be really giving a lot of value to folks.
    Hope the email I sent to ya helped?


  6. Janny Michieka-LoboskyJune 12, 2008 at 11:50 AM

    I have not really watched the show, however, the few glimpses I have had on the adverts made me wonder why anyone would want to jeorpadize there family over $50,000. who comes up with these reality shows that tarnish peoples lives...clever move from a media perspective though, especially because they are targeting the right market. It is a concern, as to how far the media can stretch there ideas on reality shows, and how gullible some of us can be. Thank you Julia for your choice not to participate & comments on the show...for sure, "I ain't gonna watch that show" I am embarrassed & mad at how silly parents can be, there is a better way of solving or talking about marital issues, heyyy maybe they should call YOU instead.

  7. Hey Julia,
    Well said....I do watch that show occasionally and cannot belive how ridiculous people are for getting up there and doing what they do just for the possibility of a few bucks! Glad you protected your students from that kind of stupidity. Keep up the great work!
    All the Best,

  8. I've never heard of nor watched the show, but from your comments and everyone elses, I guess I'm not missing much:-) Thanks for taking the time to do your thing. I agree with Janny, people should be calling YOU instead of airing their dirty linen in public, in the hopes of making some money. It's great that the casting director found you online, coz that means many others are finding you too.

  9. People, we really have to be careful about the things (read trash)we are in danger of exposing ourselves to on mainstream TV. This show - although I've never watched it - is not the good ol' family programming. I agree with you there about it being bad for family dynamics. More so, we have to be careful fo what we expose our kids to. Julia, I commend you on your article. Honesty forms trust which is the cornerstone of any relationship, for, once lost, it is very difficult to regain. As a man, (since it is normally us that are seen as bigger culprits in the public eye), my advice is "If you don't want trouble, don't put yourself in a position to get into trouble." We should all thank the almighty for being blessed with our spouses/significant others and wonderful kids. Thanks Julia. Love the piece.

  10. Julia - what a great website you have....we are so proud of you for turning down anything to do with that show; why they would think any christian would be interested in that kind of exposure is beyond me. But they seem to find people willing; I'm glad it won't be from any of us. You are doing a wonderful job of juggling work, home, family and church..... I want your vitamins!!!
    Much love, Sue and Tracy and family

  11. Julia we are so proud of you for standing up for the rest of us, truly you are gifted and have the character to handle God's blessings. This show is just an upgraded version of Jerry Springer and yet another example of the enemy's attack on families.

    William & Pam Bittock

  12. I agree the show was ridiculous...but I totally agree about the website (Michele Weiner Davis)...I found such great info with a totally unique point of view....we were able to get past our differences and keep our family together.


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