Friday, September 09, 2005

No more "surprises," please

Yesterday, I saw two stories on TV about families separated by Hurricane Katrina that were "resolved" in a way I found more upsetting than uplifting.

The first family was on CNN. A woman was evacuated to Baton Rouge while she was in labor. She didn't know the whereabouts of her other child and the father of her baby, who were eventually located in Houston. A nurse from the hospital and her husband drove all night to bring the father and son to Baton Rouge. So far, so good and so very generous.

Then it showed the woman and infant arriving at their new accommodation. A door opened to reveal the father and son, much to the mother's joy and relief. I said to myself, "Please tell me she knew where they had been and that they were safe before this 'surprise' reunion."

The second family was on Dr. Phil. A father and baby got separated from the rest of the family. The mother met Dr. Phil; his people found the father and infant, and Dr. Phil offered to fly mother and kiddies to the other city to be reunited. So far, so good, so generous.

But then they showed Dr. Phil interviewing the distraught father, who had not been told his family was there or, I gather, even on the way. No, Dr. Phil first had to ask him questions like "How will you feel when you have your children's arms around you again?" Then, and only then, were the mother and the other children brought into the room for a "surprise" reunion.

What is up with these "surprises?" This isn't -- or shouldn't be -- like the "big reveal" in a make-over or home decorating show. To keep anyone ignorant of the fate of the rest of their family, their whereabouts or even in another room a single second longer than necessary is, to my mind, cruel, and no reason is good enough to excuse it.


Pink Pen said...

I love a good surprise too.. but not knowing if your family is dead or alive isn't a surprise... it's torture.

Shame on these shows for trying to make "good tv" instead of trying to make good.

Margaret Moore said...

Excellent way to put it, Pink Pen!

Whip said...

I guess you could log that episode as a new definition for "cruel and unusual punishment."

Margaret Moore said...

Yep, and I'm not the only person who won't be watching Dr. Phil anymore. One of my friends saw him on Larry King where he used part of this segment and then he said (paraphrasing here, since I didn't actually watch it myself): "If you want to know how it turned out, you have to watch the show on Thursday."

This kind of trauma as a teaser for his show? Ya lost me there, Phil. But good.