The Moment of Truth has become the show that's fueling water cooler discussions across North America. With its premise of hooking contestants up to a polygraph machine and then asking them some intensely personal questions, FOX had to know that Moment would be a hit. Throw in some innocent bystanders in the form of friends and family watching and listening, and a few contestants who aren't afraid to reveal their deepest darkest secrets, and audiences are hooked.
Mark Walberg, host of The Moment of Truth, recently spoke to the media about the show and what we can expect in the coming seasons.
The question on everyone's mind seems to be, "Where do they find those contestants?" Walberg told us that the people who apply for the show aren't "freaky or crazy," they just stand out because they're willing to share their truths on national television. While there will definitely be more of the sensational contestants who end up uncovering unsavory details about their sex lives and infidelity, we can also look forward to more "feel-good" rounds, where contestants end up vindicated and the overall feel is uplifting. We saw a few of those in the first season, and it's good to know there will be more. Walberg said that he argues for those stories to make up every episode, but with the format of the show there will always be something shocking.
During the show's first season, contestant Lauren Cleri delivered the most shocking episode by admitting to infidelity, being in love with another man on her wedding day, and that she takes her wedding ring off when she goes out with her friends, among other things. Walberg said that he felt "horrible" after taping that episode. "I felt like she was almost maliciously throwing her husband under the bus," he said. As it turns out, "they were young, and had problems in their marriage anyway. I went over to the husband afterwards and told him that I was so sorry, and he replied, 'Yeah, we almost won that $100,000 didn't we?'"
Walberg used this story to illustrate that, by the time a contestant actually appears on the show, they know what they're getting into and they know what questions will be asked. He feels that they know exactly what they're doing, and there are no surprises for the person in the hot seat. Even the appearance of special guests to answer questions can't be that surprising, since they know about this little gimmick. "It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that there might be a surprise guest. (Cleri) contacted her ex-boyfriend about a week before being on the show and asked him if he was going to be on it."
With content like this, it's no surprise that The Moment of Truth has been under media fire for causing problems for families, breaking up marriages, and using sensational content to lure viewers. Walberg was straight-forward in his opinion. "The wrecking-your-family, evil-doer rap the show gets is crap. No family gets wrecked unless it's being wrecked anyway." He explained that families and marriages don't suddenly break apart because of an admission on the show – there had to have been underlying problems there in the first place for these revelations to cause so much damage.
"That doesn't necessarily mean we're doing God's work," Walberg continues, "but what I'm saying is that things happen on the show, conversations happen that are uncomfortable. But on the other end there is relief for everyone involved who has known that issue existed and has been avoiding it."
I asked Walberg about the possibility of high-profile contestants being on the show. If you recall, last season producers approached Roger Clemens to appear in an attempt to clear his name after the MLB steroid scandal broke. Shortly after that, Drew Peterson, who had been suspected in the deaths of two of his four wives, wanted to be on the show as well. Walberg said that, while he's the host and doesn't get involved in the production side of things, he "would like to bring it into those territories, but a lot of people might be gun-shy" after seeing the show. He added that he would "like to explore that angle, and it could happen in the months and years to come."
It's no secret that Walberg feels uncomfortable quite often as the game plays out. He frequently warns contestants that there are more personal questions coming up, and that they may not want to continue. When asked if he ever feels bad about how an episode has played out, he clarified that he does indeed feel uncomfortable, but no, he doesn't feel bad. "By the time a contestant is on the show, they have begged to be there. I'm uncomfortable with their answers sometimes, and I think that's why I'm the right host for the show. I go in with trepidation rather than licking my chops waiting for their demise."
So what can we look forward to in the second season of The Moment of Truth? The questions will be "exploring more than just the sex talk, although those topics always come up. What makes the show interesting though is that each new contestant has an entirely different life story. So even if some of the questions are the same, the reactions are unique to that person."