Mixed Results on The Ricki Lake Show

My appearance on The Ricki Lake Show was educational, more so for me (unfortunately) than for the viewers. In discussions with producers before the show, the focus had always been on my research. With all the discussion of my findings and publications prior to taping, I had assumed Ricki Lake’s questions during the show would also center on my research findings, and that the editors would show my name and title on the screen. Instead, they introduced me only by my first name and the interview was an awkward melange of Ricki trying to ask me about my personal relationships and me trying to redirect the conversation to the research findings. She was clearly frustrated and I was mystified, resulting in most of the interview getting cut from the show. The snippet they did use did not include any discussion of research findings and seemed out of place.

I have a lot of respect for Ricki Lake. She has been a voice of sex-positivty and acceptance of sexual minorities for years, and I trust that she intended to craft a show that presented polyamory factually. In the future, I hope to have an opportunity to appear on the Ricki Lake Show again to discuss my research. For now, I have learned to ask many more questions and insist on research focus at every stage, in every conversation with every producer. Hopefully my own learning curve can translate to public education regarding polyamory and sexual minorities.  

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CASA, CSE

One of a handful of global experts on polyamory and the foremost international expert on children in polyamorous families, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff has studied gender and
families of sexual minorities for the last 16 years. Sheff’s television appearances include CNN, and the National Geographic, and she has given more than 20 radio, podcast, print, and television interviews with sources from Radio Slovenia to National Public Radio, the Sunday London Times to the Boston Globe and Newsweek. By emphasizing research methodology and findings in her discussions, Dr. Sheff presents the kind of public intellectualism that encourages audience members to think critically regarding gender, sexualities, and families.

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