There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” In a lot of ways, that adage fits the world of daytime and late night talk shows perfectly. Especially when you’re talking about what talk shows actually talk about. Let’s face it, most talk shows hosts linger on the same topics.
Rarely is quantum physics a topic. Nor is classical music or ancient literature. No, the modern talk show host is only interested a few topics. At least in front of the camera.
If you’re wondering what some of those topics are, here’s our top 10 subjects talk shows always gravitate towards.
#1 – Movies on Opening Weekend
Traditionally, talk shows like “The Tonight Show“ are the first stop when studios are promoting their newest blockbuster. The studio will send out its star or its big-name director to sit next to the host and wax on about how this movie—this one singular movie—is the best movie they’ve ever made. That is, of course, until the next movie comes along.
#2 – TV Shows During Sweeps
Sweeps is the nickname given to those few months each year in which television networks set their advertising rates based on the number of people watching their shows. Like movies, networks will send out their TV stars to pump up the program, hoping to draw more eyes to the show. In turn, this draws more dollars to the bank.
#3 – The Latest Music Album Release
It’s all about promotion, there’s very little else to say about the matter. The latest band, the hip new single, the most buzz-worthy pop star—the musical guest is the talk of the talk show town when a new album is about to be released.
#4 – Politics
There are two things you do not discuss in polite discourse: politics and religion. For the most part, talk show hosts in both late night and daytime will adhere to the latter. But when it comes to politics, forget about it.
Monologues, mid-way skits, and general chatter are filled with political barbs, opinions, and hyperbole. You can’t turn on the TV without one side or the other giving their perfect opinion or a late night talk show host poking fun at the hypocrisy.
#5 – Magical Makeovers
Daytime TV is far more diverse when it comes to talk show genres and the hosts who guide them. Yet, it seems like every program, from “The Steve Harvey Show” to “Ellen DeGeneres” to “The Doctors” and “Dr. Oz,” enjoy a good makeover.
The type of makeover might be different, but the theme is the same. It’s all about the amazing before and after. They’re inspirational, which is why we cannot get enough of them.
#6 – Tasty Recipes
You would think this topic would be reserved for the Food Network and, at least, “Rachael Ray.” Nope. Daytime programs across the board love to get in the kitchen and drum up some new concoction for a backyard barbecue, a fashionable party, the upcoming holiday, or a new spin on a classic dish.
Morning shows like “Today,” ” Good Morning America,” and “CBS This Morning“ are notorious for milking this segment.
#7 – Who’s Your Daddy?
This topic is prevalent only in the tabloid genre of daytime talk shows. You won’t see it in late night and shows like “Ellen” and “The View” won’t broach the topic. But if your show is all about prurient interests, paternity is a go-to. A must have, even.
Shows that consider themselves above the tabloid likes of “Maury” and “Jerry Springer” sometimes get close. Yes, even “Dr. Phil” can bring up the subject from time to time, but it’s often considerably more civil.
#8 – Oddities
Another daytime staple of tabloid talk shows and the shows that come close. This topic always focuses on the 1,000-pound man or the woman who gave birth to 10 children—the sideshow oddballs of America. To their credit, these shows try to humanize the “Weekly World News“-esque headlines, but more often than not, they’re only throwing fuel on the fire.
#9 – Celebrity Gossip
In today’s world of insta-gossip and social media, talk shows are quick to pick up on the latest prattle. More often than not, this gossip is mined for jokes and one-liners, skits, and parodies. But if you’re talking about it on your news feed or your Twitter stream, you can be sure that today’s tech-savvy headliners are talking about it too.
In this case, we’re defining a meme in the traditional sense of a fad, whether that’s a person, place, or thing. Memes and viral videos are the siblings of gossip.
If people are planking, talk show hosts are talking about planking. If a video of an adorable kid is making its rounds on Facebook, you just might see him on a show. This is what we mean by having the pulse on pop culture. It’s just that this pulse is hyped up on caffeine and Grumpy Cat.