June 15, 2024

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Today’s show celebrates its 15th anniversary — and why it needs new teeth

Today’s show celebrates its 15th anniversary — and why it needs new teeth

Today’s program is a highly successful German-language satire that is highly critical of the government. But for TV shows at the age of 15, she needs new teeth.

Simon Maurer / CH Media

Judge Oliver Welke has made many politicians sweat with his sharp jokes.Photo: ZDF/Willy Weber

Up to five and a half million people tune in every Friday evening as ZDF’s Today program dissects world political events with the sharpest satire. No other comedy show in German-speaking countries has reached such an audience, while also being well received by critics. The show has already received an incredible 42 awards and award nominations, including the German Comedy Prize six times since its first edition on May 26, 2009. All this with good reason.

Because no other program can so accurately vindicate the weaknesses, mistakes, and insolence of German politics as today’s show. It will never be forgotten how in 2011, the vain Baron Karl-Theodor von Guttenberg, a favorite of conservative CSU circles, became a figure of ridicule across the country due to his brilliant caricature on the show (“Baron von Mogel”). Or in 2013, the corrupt machinations of Limburg Bishop Departs van Elst were revealed to a large audience and caused a lot of laughter about the backward Catholic Church (“Mr. Departs, your cheers”).

A sharp weapon against shameless politicians

The show’s popularity is due to its combination of accurate jokes and situational comedy and political satire. However, that alone is not enough to achieve cult status. After all, there are comedy clips on every corner of the Internet today. No, today’s show’s greatest strength is its ability to portray scandals in a way that clearly shows viewers the extent of the moral bankruptcy of politics.

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Even in pure Germany, politicians are constantly caught doing morally reprehensible things. However, this usually causes only a cautious sensation, because citizens do not realize the perversity of an action based solely on a serious newspaper article. Only a show like today’s can show how reprehensible it really is when the SPD throws away election promises to grab a few ministerial posts during coalition talks with the CDU. Or when a multi-millionaire like Uli Hoeness cheats the government out of millions in tax revenue.

The same applies to unraveling narrow-mindedness. Instead of the hundredth expert lecture to citizens that it is a right-wing extremist party that damages democracy, today’s program makes the party’s minor positions ridiculous in an elegant satire that is most damaging to the right-wing AfD (see section).

This kind of successful satire made today’s show great.

But with its success, the satire’s teeth have been increasingly worn down in recent years. Since the departure of Angela Merkel and the CDU, the government is no longer harshly criticized. To praise a Merkel minister without toxicity, ironic praise – was previously unthinkable.

Today, while the SPD is in power, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has achieved something of a cult status in his broadcasts. Even worse: when the SPD-led government is criticized, it is usually not from a capitalist point of view, but from a left-wing perspective, similar to the position of the largest opposition party, the CDU. Doubtless, the authors have become complacent because of a certain ideological affinity with the current government.

The program is approaching power

This is bad because the most important task of a satire show is to make fun of those in power – not to make jokes at the expense of minorities. However, the Today show is currently taking on several government positions, which led to internal controversy last year. Actress Christine Bryan dropped hers after 348 episodes It was announced that he was withdrawing from the show, because he thought the show represented the government’s position in a very uncritical way – for example on the topic of vaccines or the war in Ukraine. According to Brion, “those who think differently are ridiculed.”

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In fact, today’s show leans toward fringe groups, even if they’re clearly disturbingly different. In paintings he argued against a ban on the neo-Nazi party NPD or defended sexist stereotypes. No matter how ridiculous a stance is, as long as it makes sense for comedic purposes, it’s brought into the show — without any instruction to the audience. Today, on the other hand, instead of the earlier lightness, a heavy moral club is often swung from television.

So today’s show would do well to cut back on the politically correct jokes and focus on critiquing real moral scandals. Otherwise, the show will lose its credibility among viewers, and they will rightly yearn for “yesterday’s” show – although the best show from tomorrow will be a show better made today.

Ten funniest segments from the last 15 years of today’s show:

FDP is shedding its fat

How Merkel is cozying up to the lobby

SPD’s candidate problem

Criticism of GroKo Govt

Pity the weak FDP

Ruthless Angela Merkel

External reports by van der Horst and Coster

The best songs of Wutbürger Gernot Hassknecht

Corruption in the Catholic Church

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