" is a syndicated talk show in which medical professionals discuss embarrassing medical issues that patients are reluctant to share with their own physicians.
Oddly, the program is able to get folks with these too-humiliating-to-mention conditions to agree to appear on network TV. So how does that work?
According to a lawsuit filed by Tyler Bowling
, a 22-year-old from Minneapolis, Minn., who suffers from pearly penile papules (try saying that three times), they accomplish this by offering the medical procedure for free, and then engaging in deceptive practices.
Bowling wanted to have the papules -- small, harmless white pimples -- removed from his junk because, among other things, they incorrectly look like an STD.
So he contacted La Jolla, Calif., doctor William Groff, who quoted him a price of $4,500 to remove the offending blemishes via laser. Two days later, a woman from Groff's office called Bowling and told him the cost of the surgery would be waived if he would discuss the condition on "The Doctors."
That afternoon, Bowling was on a plane to Southern California. The producers of "The Doctors" assured Bowling that only "medical students and doctors watched the show," and stated his name and hometown wouldn't be used. After a quick consultation with Groff, he was brought to the set.
Read on to see how Bowling and the audience were deceived, and to see the segment.
To Bowling's surprise, the set was a studio with 200 audience members, most of whom were not in the medical profession. Then an email he allegedly wrote (pictured above, or check out the YouTube clip below) was shown on a monitor. "He did not write that letter," Bowling's attorney, Walter Batt
, tells Asylum. "The substance of that letter was from someone else."
Bowling claims he was "tricked" into appearing in front of a live studio audience, and that his penis operation was then broadcast without his consent. Batt, who has represented other clients in suits against reality TV producers, says this happens all the time.
"With the development of reality TV," says Batt, "you have individuals who are not accustomed to the entertainment industry getting involved in these shows. They are duped into doing things because they are not given a chance to receive counsel, and don't know exactly what it is they are giving up in terms of their rights. And that's generally the theme that happens with all of these shows."
What it all means
Bowling isn't the world's most sympathetic plaintiff, to say the least. We all know that nothing, especially an expensive cosmetic medical procedure, comes for free. And it's not as if "The Doctors" is un-Googleable. But the whirlwind way in which Bowling was courted for "The Doctors" and the (allegedly) dishonest things the producers said to get him to appear does help explain why so many people end up agreeing to humiliate themselves on reality TV.
Perhaps the worst part of it all for Bowling, though, is that the surgery didn't work. So he's still going around with white nodules on his penis. Only now a lot more people know that he is.
Here is the cringe-worthy segment of "The Doctors" involving Bowling.