From 1996 to 2000, MTV aired the televised version of the relationship/sex/self-love/self-help radio show Loveline on its cable network. Originally airing 11PM on weeknights, it was controversial in that listeners and viewers would call in and ask hosts (sex, mental health and addiction specialist) Dr. Drew Pinksy and comedian Adam Carrolla (who provided the opposite of Drew’s calm, textbook wisdom with tell-it-like-it-is polemics) incredibly honest and raw questions. And the inquiries ranged from semen taste to abuse within one’s family. No question was too weird or viewed as weird to Dr. Drew, Carolla, and their woman perspective correspondent co-host on the segment.
Dr. Drew has been with Loveline since its days on the radio in the 1980s. While gaining a quiet cult following on the airwaves by the early ’90s, it gained further pop culture attention when MTV greenlit Loveline TV, with a live audience. In the era that regarding the sex sells mentality included the rise of Pamela Anderson and her infamous breast implants, the foul-mouthed Howard Stern, movies like Indecent Proposal and Basic Instinct, the baby-making jams of R&B and everything Madonna, MTV still managed to have a “practice safe sex” agenda towards its smart yet increasingly aware and opinionated fanbase.
For the television version, it was just as real as the radio and celebrity guests were often invited on the show, usually in connection to their latest projects. But their appearances were unintentionally hilarious at times because most were too shy or uncomfortable to contribute personal insight or advice. Guests included Tori Amos, Blink 182, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bernie Mac, and yes, your favorite, Fred Durst. Occasionally the lampooning from Carolla, and certain celebs guests, lampooned a bit too much at the expense of callers or questions. But Loveline was nonetheless an influential part of making sex talk or tough subjects less taboo and necessary for those that needed to heal and grow from particular experiences. Today, sex on the radio, or TV, can still be found in a talk show format, but they’re a lot more unapologetically sensationalized and braggy, like Sex with Brody on E! (a propsed successor to Loveline) and podcasts likeDeath, Sex and Money.
Loveline is still syndicated on the radio today with Dr. Drew, and some of you may know him from its shows on VH1 like Celebrity Rehab. The TV show was actually really cool and just as informative, but there is something about listening to it at night right before you would fall asleep that still feels soothing. (Who else can listen to Dr. Drew’s voice all day?) I know that could potentially be weird considering the conversations that may come up, but the show has always felt like a safe place for such personal material, and that’s what still makes a step above all of the in-face-your-face sexuality that continuously reigns right now.
Below are two clips from Loveline in 1999, separetely, with ’90s teen idols Danielle Fishel and Andrew Keegan (remember them?)