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Dr. Phil

Why 'Dr. Phil' Thrives Today More Than Ever Thanks To Social Media

Gettyimages | Ethan Miller
By Jalyn Reed

In 2002, Dr. Phil made its debut on public television. At the time, there were no social media outlets like Twitter or Instagram that provided a constant circulation of news stories from everyday people. So, the issues that Dr. Phil addressed back then were much less critical than the issues he deals with today. Although that could be because of the reputation he has built since then, there' no denying that the issues he speaks on and helps with have brought him more success as a counselor and have helped the show to thrive.

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With social media's omnipotent presence today, there is little room for uninteresting stories or coverage, especially in the lives of everyday people. “The problems [dealt with on Dr. Phil] were a little bit more simple back then. There weren’t a lot of catfishing stories or stories of people obsessed with being a Kardashian or internet famous,” says Dr. Phil executive producer Carla Pennington. “It was more ‘bullies on the playground,’ not cyberbullying.” With this transition of audience and subject matter, Dr. Phil has had the opportunity to tackle more viral issues for his television show.

Dr. Phil on 'USA Today
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Before, Dr. Phil dealt with low-key issues that weren't relevant to anybody, really, except for those who Dr. Phil was helping directly. Now, the television personality addresses issues that make headlines in the news. “There’s more of the ripped-from-the-headline exclusives,” Steve LoCascio, COO of CBS Television Distribution and CFO of ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group says. “He’s very proud of those kind of things where he steps in where justice is served by something he brought to light that previously was unknown.”

'Dr. Phil' Show
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The evolution of the subject matter on Dr. Phil has transformed the television show as well. Now, the show has become more rehearsed in current events than it was previously. From keeping up with the opioid crisis in America, to catfish stories submitted by concerned parents, Dr. Phil is more relevant than ever. “Topics evolve based on what’s going on socially in this country,” Pennington says on the subject, adding that “People have relationships — marriages, parenting — and the show may have evolved but the connections people have to each other remain the same,”

Dr. Phil
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The success of Dr. Phil is a combination of taking on current event subject matter, and connecting on an intimate level with the guests on the show, who are real people looking for help. According to Carla Pennington, Dr. Phil seems to have a knack for empathy. “We’re really just keeping up with what is socially relevant and continuing to remain an entertaining teaching tool for viewers. Dr. Phil really does own this particular platform in terms of a psychologist helping people. Many have come and gone.”

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