There is little more annoying on TV than talk show pundits talking over one another. And the phenomenon is worsening. Once polite, deferential panelists and guests have decided the only way to make their cases heard is to use the same rude, disruptive tactics as their adversaries.
Ironically, writers for screen and stage regard dual or “simultaneous dialogue” as a creative mechanism for authenticity. In most cases, it works; certainly, when compared to the stilted one-at-a-time tossed back-and-forth by characters on bad sitcoms.
There are critical differences, though, between fictional talking heads and real taking heads: 1) with the former, simultaneously spoken dialogue is used sparingly, for dramatic effect; 2) with the latter, the double-speaking becomes two monologues, independent of one another; with the presenters’ singular purpose to be louder, more persistent and more prolific.
Ironically, with good fiction, the audience deciphers and believes what they hear; with bad reality, the audience hears only blah-blah-blah.
TV talk-show moderators and producers — with “The View,” “The Five,” the “Situation Room” and all the others — should not allow this obnoxious behavior to derail constructive discourse. They should follow the lead of screenwriters and playwrights who use simultaneous speaking as an artform between characters, not as a competition between gasbags.