Thirteen ways of watching Dr Phil with you

By | 1 September 2023

I.     Today on Dr Phil, we are identical twins. You have a fetish for clowns, and I have a phobia of clowns. We live together for some reason in a city where clowns are readily available.

II.     Today on Dr Phil, a mother of six has abandoned the Mormon Church for a life of partying. The stream buffers; you are taking off your socks.

III.     Today on Dr Phil, you are a sound technician, and I am a goth who won’t apologise for my hardcore lifestyle. My mother makes an appearance holding a rosary and I burst into tears. As you gently unhook my mic pack, my corpse paint leaves a mark on your collar.

IV.     Today on Dr Phil, your fixation on animal rights activism is negatively impacting your relationship with your family. I am sitting in the audience with PETA on speed dial, ready to throw red paint on anyone who laughs at the wrong moment.

V.     Today on Dr Phil, a man who lives full-time as a dog is unfazed by Dr Phil’s reproaches. He wears a fur suit and smiles indulgently as footage rolls of him eating out of a bowl on the ground. Phil is spinning up all his missed opportunities for a big wife and nice career out of the ether at greater and greater velocity but the dog man wants none of it. When his mum dies, he will inherit her house and continue living there, he says, so he doesn’t need much to live on. The camera cuts to Dr Phil’s wife Robin shaking her head in disgust. When the episode goes to air, our cheers of solidarity are dubbed over with canned laughter.

VI.     Today on Dr Phil, Dr Phil is broaching the topic of pronouns. We watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares instead.

VII.     Today on Dr Phil, the episode never goes to air. Due to industrial action, the AV staff have walked out in solidarity with the maintenance crew. You and I remain in the green room, drinking room temperature water as we wait for our cue. I pat “the friendly one” of your eighteen chihuahuas. After nine hours waiting we hug goodbye. In the cab ride home, I tell the driver about your chihuahuas. A few blocks away a lighting tech is telling their girlfriend about your chihuahuas too.

VIII.     Today on Dr Phil, we are striking in solidarity with the maintenance crew. We are asking Peteski Productions to come to the bargaining table on permanent contracts with health benefits. You say you feel sorry for the guests who never “got their moment.” I say, “I think one of them was just a weirdo with a chihuahua.”

IX.     Today on Dr Phil, my strapline reads “Jini Maxwell, 31, thinks she was born in the wrong body.” It is 2004. Dr Phil is not open to a discussion about more inclusive language.

X.     Today on Dr Phil, we join via livestream from our home in Second Life, where we are married and have lived together for many years. In the physical world, you work evenings at the ANU Centre for Social Research while finishing a grad cert in occupational therapy. I am sixty years old and work in administration for the Bismarck City Commission in Bismarck, North Dakota. Dr Phil turns to the audience in mock amazement as he questions the reality of our union. We have never met in person. You describe our love as a meeting of the minds.

XI.     Today on Dr Phil, this serial catfish is unrepentant. There is a softness to the catfish’s face that is giving less “boy” and more “boymode.” Phil tries to lay down the law but she just rolls her eyes and shrugs: “isn’t this just like, life in the digital era?” That night, you send me a selfie from a pub bathroom with a caption that reads, “isn’t this just like, life in the digital era?”

XII.     Today on Dr Phil, Dr Phil is apoplectic. His foundation runs from the crown of his head down his temple. You are blushing down to your collarbones, but when you look up and say that a better world is possible, your voice doesn’t shake. He tears off his shirt and screams, wrenching and guttural, into the cued recording of laughter from a long-dead audience. Then he folds into your arms like a baby, whispering his first ever words from the heart.

XIII.     Philip Calvin McGraw, born September 1 1950, is a television personality and author. He is best known for hosting the talk show Dr Phil.


This entry was posted in 110: POP and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.