"I started watching Dr. Phil in junior high, an after-school activity my mother made me do with her as some botched attempt to get us to talk about 'serious topics,'" says Scaachi Koul. "She made me watch the teen episodes in particular — ones where young girls were seduced by nameless gangs (this was not a risk for me) or hard drugs (weed, it was only ever just weed). After an awkward hour of watching (Phil) McGraw berate the parents, my mother would turn to me and ask: 'So what did you learn?' The real answer was 'absolutely nothing,' but the one that got her off my back was 'don’t go near a boy.' In my adulthood, I started watching the show again just as a kind of familiar background noise, and discovered that it had morphed into something much more caustic and ugly. There are episodes exploiting people’s devastating alcohol addictions, older men and women getting catfished by a fake Nikki Sixx, and a constant parade of “bad teenagers” eventually set right after being referred to a horse-centric boarding school. The show’s sole purpose is now seemingly all about displaying people’s difficulties in their crudest forms, and less about actually trying to help them. Dr. Oz, possibly the other worst thing (Oprah) Winfrey unleashed upon an unsuspecting public, gets most of the smoke when it comes to talking about the failure of television healthcare professionals. Don’t get me wrong, (Mehmet) Oz deserves it: He hawks vitamins you don’t need, anti-science rhetoric about weight loss and hydroxychloroquine, and even argued that increased deaths due to schools opening mid-pandemic might be worth it. But while Dr. Oz has faced plenty of controversy, McGraw continues to thrive. In 2020, McGraw made $65.5 million, all on the backs of thousands of people who came to him and his producers, desperate for help. He’s signed on to host the show through to 2023, into Dr Phil’s 21st season. Mental healthcare around the country is lacking. Affordable care is hard to access, and that’s if you have any coverage at all. Television therapy, then, is what people get instead, and McGraw doesn’t just give bad advice, but he openly mocks the people coming to him for help. What may have started as a show intended to make therapy and open communication more accessible to people at home has warped into a creepy, exploitative program. Worse, his focus on women and teenage girls who have been abused means the show is now designed to go after people who can rarely defend themselves against a television behemoth. Dr. Phil is just Jerry Springer in a better suit."