Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who does bad TV the best?

Bad TV is sometimes the best TV, and no one does bad TV better than TLC – or is that A&E?

TLC, the diluted version of its alter ego The Learning Channel, has made a name for itself by broadcasting shows that do anything but teach ever since the success of Jon and Kate Plus 8.

TLC was founded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (seriously). Now it’s known for outrageous shows about toddlers chugging go-go juice and flashing flesh (that would be Toddlers and Tiaras). While A&E didn’t have as noble a beginning, the channel has its own share of cringe-worthy TV. In the battle of bad TV, who comes out the victor?

Round 1: Hoarding: Buried Alive vs. Hoarders

Which aired first? A&E’s Hoarders aired in 2009, along with the dirty laundry of families profiled in nine episodes. TLC’s version hit small screens a year later.

What’s the difference? Not much. Each episode runs the same amount of time and goes in-depth into some crazy-scary pack rats –occasionally with real rats and other lovely creatures. Hoarders on both channels get the help of professional organizers/therapists.

Which is the best bad TV show?  Let’s give this one to Hoarders – A&E got the jump on what became a national obsession. It may be hard to watch, but it’s better than getting buried alive.

Round 2: Addicted vs. Intervention

Which aired first? Addicted premiered in 2010 on TLC, but Intervention has had a home at A&E for 13 seasons. It’s an A&E staple.

What’s the difference? Intervention is a 40-minute build-up to an actual intervention led by the friends and family of a substance abuser, chronicled in each A&E episode. Addicted is less reality show and more documentary, showing the struggles of addiction.

Which is the best bad TV show? This one also goes to A&E – mostly because seniority rules and any guilty pleasure that can stand the test of time deserves a W.

Round 3: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo vs. Duck Dynasty

Which aired first? Duck Dynasty has steadily drawn in viewers (in the millions, believe it or not) of all interests since it made its way out of the bayou and onto A&E in early 2012. Honey Boo Boo and her Georgia clan introduced themselves to America just a few months later on TLC.

What’s the difference? Both chronicle the values of Southern ways of life – on TLC, through the eyes of a 6-year-old beauty pageant regular, and on A&E through the lives of Louisiana royalty, the duck-call designing Robertsons.

Which is the best bad TV show? Duck Dynasty is clearly the better show – Uncle Si’s one liners alone are enough to spark at least three under-developed spin offs, Jack. But, it seems wrong to call Duck Dynasty bad TV – even with the obvious scripted plots. Honey Boo Boo takes this one.

Even though A&E might have won the majority of the battles, let’s be honest. TLC was founded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, along with NASA, and now it airs shows like My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and America’s Worst Tattoos (both of which, in TLC tradition, are inspired by similar shows on other networks).

Congratulations TLC, you’re the network we love to hate the most.