The Talking Cure examines four nationally syndicated television talk shows--Donahue, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Geraldo and Sally Jessy Raphael--which are primarily devoted to feminine culture and issues. Serving as one of the few public forums where working-class women and those with different sexual orientations have a voice, these talk shows represent American TV at its most radical. Shattuc examines the tension between talk's feminist politics and the television industry, who, in their need to appeal to women, trades on sensation, stereotypes and fears in order to engender product consumption. However, this genre is not a one-way form of social interaction. The female audience complies and resists in a complex give-and-take, and it is this relationship which The Talking Cure aims to understand and reveal.
"Shattuc eschews cheap shots and easy laughs in favor of content analysis and a chronicling of 'the rise and fall of a participatory form of TV devoted to the public debate of everyday issues by women.' In comparing the individual shows by approach, content, and audience, Shattuc offers the means to understand an often confusing or disturbing trend in popular taste." -- Booklist
"Nothing is omitted from this exhaustive, much-needed study, the result of numerous interviews and research over a four-year period…" -- Publishers Weekly