I taped "The Dr. Phil Show" in Los Angeles--the show aired today-- and the whole process was enormous fun. It would be very easy to be all academic and snobby about the experience but since I enjoyed myself thoroughly to pretend otherwise would be entirely disingenuous.
The topic was revenge. It was delicious.
I wrote a book on the subject several years ago, which was translated into German, Spanish, and Japanese, and have been asked to comment in the press over the years about everything from children's movies to Madoff's mistress's new tell-all memoir. The producers paired me with an attorney from New Jersey so that we could discuss the larger issues surrounding the very idea of revenge-- and so that we could also respond to a Real Couple who were having what might be called "troubles."
My favorite part of the show happened when we started to discuss the case of a woman who ran over her cheating husband--twice--in a parking lot.
I agreed that, at first, this might seem like a bad thing. That is, until you heard the backstory. That's when you discovered the wife caught him coming out of a motel with his girlfriend--and this was after telling his wife, who'd just had twins, that he's broken up with this girlfriend because the wife agreed to lose weight and have a boob job. Since these were the circumstances, I explained on camera, one understood that by running him over only twice, the wife showed restraint. I suggested that if other women in the parking lot knew the story, they would have lined up to run over the guy, too, just on principle.
The audience burst into sustained laughter and applause.
After a brief pause, Dr. Phil mentioned that the wife in the case offered--in a courtroom, yet--as evidence that she was working on her marriage, the fact that she was reading his book on relationships.
Hey, it's television, not NPR. There was emotion, not aphorisms interrupted with reed music.
Bottom line? Of course I'm not saying that any kind of violent act is a good idea and I was able to make that clear during the later part of the program. In addition, my hair looked okay and even though my closest relatives might decide that I appeared a little heavy on camera, I'm pleased to say that, even while being able to make a few reasonable points in addition to a few absurd ones, I got the last laugh.
And we all know, the last laugh is the best revenge.