‘Dr. Phil’ Is Ending After Years of Scandals. ‘Good Riddance,’ Critics Say.

After 21 seasons of sensational programming focused on everything from delinquent offspring to rampant substance abuse to extramarital affairs, Dr. Phil, the hit daytime talk show led by Dr. Phil McGraw, will end after its current season per the host’s choice, Variety reported Tuesday.

It’s the end of an era for the authoritative, Southern-accented TV star, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology but is not a licensed therapist. For years, the show lured droves of audiences (and continues to average 2 million viewers per episode) with McGraw’s pointed interviews with troubled guests, which could be as hilarious as they were harrowing, despite the fact that the show is itself a consistent magnet for lawsuits, scandals, and criticism.


Off-screen storms

One of the host’s early controversies involved Britney Spears during the peak of her mid-aughts mental health struggles; in January 2008, McGraw was permitted to visit her while she was being hospitalized for a mental breakdown. He later made public statements about the visit that alienated Spears’ family and left them chastising McGraw for betraying their trust. In response to criticism that he was trying to insert himself into the story purely for entertainment value, McGraw canceled a planned episode of Dr. Phil about Spears’ situation.

More recently, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McGraw caught flack for questioning the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

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