Let's get straight to the point - TLC is in trouble. When people start referring to your channel as the "Mental Illness Network" (a statement Salon magazine made that many will agree with) then it's safe to say that things might not be going so well for you. Sure, the overall content is questionable, but there is also a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes which has been a death mark for the network.
One of the directors, Sharon O'Sullivan admitted that the channel struggles with promoting anything new to their viewers. She told Ad Week, "We had a series last year called Sin City Rules that was a group of women in Las Vegas on a trip who were put together in a somewhat contrived environment. It was not as authentic as our viewers expected." She added, "What we realized from that show failing on our air was that that’s not what we’re here for. You can evolve your brand, but the consumer also has an expectation of it."
Basically, TLC is stuck with viewers who want the same old, trashy content but what the channel really needs if for new viewers to be switching on. Here we look at some of the most troublesome issues over the past few years that has seen the channel dip in it's popularity.
15 They STILL Are Not Back-Checking The Stars' Criminal Records
Background checks on the stars of this channel are almost non-existent and this has landed them in hot water many times before. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo's Mama June reportedly rekindled her relationship with former partner Mark McDaniel despite the fact her eldest daughter claimed she had been assaulted by him on several occasions.
Then there was the arrest of Cheer Perfection star Andrea Clevenger who was ten sentenced to 10 years behind bars for assaulting a 13-year-old boy. According to Arkansas Matters, "The boy told police the assaults happened at least three times..."
Most recently, Toby Willis, who appeared on the channel's The Willis Family, was under investigation as it was alleged he had assaulted an underage girl more than 12 years ago. He fled his hometown but police caught up with him and he is now behind bars for the crime. It's scary that these are the people TLC tried to turn into household names.
14 Most Of Their Shows Have Been Proven As Fake
Breaking Amish is a show that follows five young Anabaptists as they experience new life in New York City and have various new life lessons involving work, friendship, romance, and culture. It only took audience members a few months into the show for them to start questioning how 'real' the stars were - especially when pictures leaked on social media proving that the stars, who claimed to have grown up in the strict communities, were not telling the truth.
Skeptics have also called out the spiritual shows The Healer and Long Island Medium as being complete frauds too. The show Extreme Couponing has been labeled fake as most stores wouldn't allow a customer with 144 coupons to check out as policies usually only permit 3 coupons per customer - in short, TLC is quickly losing the trust of their audience.
13 They Are Ignoring Serious Issues Involving Children
Stars of Jon and Kate Plus 8, sisters Cara and Mady Gosselin, revealed they no longer see their father and called the relationship between them as "toxic." Last year, speaking about their father, Mady told People magazine, "This year I'm going to turn 16. I'm going to be learning to drive, taking the PSATs, thinking about college...so much is going on in my life. And the last thing I have time for is a toxic relationship." Cara added, "I wouldn't even know what to say about him."
On Toddlers and Tiaras, the welfare of 6-year-old Alana Holler was questioned when her mother June "Coupon Queen" Holler told the show's producers that she had tried everything to get her daughter 'excited' for the pageants including feeding her the powdered sugar treat Pixie Stixs and a 'special juice' which contained a high caffeine content. Seriously, how could this all be overlooked?
12 The Most Popular Shows Have Already Been Cancelled
One of TLC's biggest problems is that they have already had to pull most of their popular shows. Toddlers and Tiaras was pulled following all the controversy that the show promoted the mistreatment of the young pageant hopefuls. 19 Kids and Counting was cancelled following the Josh Duggar scandal when it was discovered he had abused his sisters.
Jon and Kate Plus 8 was also cancelled and TLC issued a statement that the show would be not be renewed for another season leaving it at the 150 episode mark. Also, My Strange Addiction and What Not To Wear was both pulled which were shows that practically made the channel. Without these hit shows dragging in the viewers - the future for the channel is starting to look quite bleak.
11 Even Animals Are Getting Hurt Now
One of the most shocking moments in TLC history was when Gypsy Sisters star Melli Stanley revealed on her Facebook that her fiancee Skott Vuncannon had killed their puppy. In a heartbreaking post online, she revealed, "Yes Skott got angry and was going off for no damn reason because I asked him to help me pay bills and he needed to step up and be responsible and he threw my dog cause it went to bark at him and tried to bite his leg."
She added, "Skott he’s in trouble for what he done and has been charged with animal cruelty that was my innocent puppy that could have been one of my babies he’s never allowed back around me again and its staying that way."
10 Guests Now Lie Just To Get On The Show
TLC has been cranking up the crazy over the years and nothing is off limits, When it comes to finding guest stars for their show, somehow they always manage to find the most unusual people but is it all the 'reality' they claim it to be? Watching someone stockpile more than a thousand deodorant sticks, swallowing household cleaning liquids or jumping into dumpsters to retrieve coupons - the show's stars have been accused of elaborating so they can get their five minutes of fame.
These stars need serious help more than they need a camera in their face. Aside from Kate and Jon Gosselin, who was raking in an estimated $25,000 to $50,000 per episode, the other stars get paid very little from the channel making us question why they would appear at all? It's all a bit suspicious and many have accused the stars of being actors all along - that's assuming all the crazy isn't really out there in the public.
9 They Really Are Running Out Of Ideas
When TLC launched their new show Buying Naked, a show where a local real estate agent named Jackie Youngblood specializes in property in the states where clothing is optional or at nudist resorts, it lasted one year before it was pulled from the channel.
Youngblood described the layout of the show as, "It’s gone from just focusing on real estate, which we do in the first two half hours, to the subculture. People are going to tune in for the nudity first so then we’re trying to hook them with the real estate angle and then the personal angle." Really what it felt like was a desperate attempt from TLC to scrape the barrel of 'real-life' entertainment and cover ground nobody had done before - but there was a clear reason why the idea was untouched and that's because it came across as desperate.
8 They Are Nothing Without Honey Boo Boo Or Mama June
Even though everyone considers it crass, gross and just bizarre - Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was one of the channel's most successful shows of all time when Alana (a.k.a Honey Boo Boo) became an international hit with lines like: "A dollar makes me holler" and when she warned people she would go "Ghetto" on them. The self-described red neck family raked in an average 2.4 million viewers per episode and was an outright hit for the channel. Since it's cancellation, the family will no longer take home their $10,000 an episode paycheck.
Now the network has 90-Day Fiancee, Cake Boss, and Long Island Medium to try and keep it afloat but neither of them having the same viewing figures as Honey Boo Boo. Since Mama June has allegedly restarted a romance with her former partner who was sent to jail for molesting a minor - the show will most likely never put the family on-screen again.
7 It's An Embarrassment For Americans
Originally TLC was an educational channel launched as The Learning Channel more than three decades ago, the original focus was on historical and environmental documentaries which are now a thing far in the past. The content is now all real-entertainment and shows that many have accused as an embarrassment for Americans.
General manager for the Discovery network, Susanna Dinnage, told The Telegraph, "Women want 'real life entertainment'. Most TV channels offer either dramas or soaps – a constructed reality of sorts. But on TLC we are bringing women real life entertainment." With shows like Freaky Eaters and My Strange Addiction - where one person was 'addicted' to eating couch fluff, one couldn't stop making love to balloons and another would lick her cat - it's more shameful then educational which is turning viewers off.
6 Audiences No Longer Want 'Dumbed Down' Entertainment
According to Susanna Dinnage, she told The Telegraph, "Women are now less judgmental of themselves with what they watch, read and listen to." Nowadays, we want to learn something from our time spent in front of the TV but TLC is just dumbing down entertainment in a bid to prove people will swallow anything that's on their screen.
Blogger Steve Hoffman wrote online about the channel's programming, "See the guy with multiple 'wives' run around from house to house like a chicken with its head cut off! Watch the "wives" bicker amongst themselves and become paranoid about who the guy loves more. (Sister Wives). See people who hoard stuff and live in absolute filth and garbage! (Hoarding- Buried Alive). See people who are addicted to eating or doing weird, dangerous stuff (My Strange Addiction)." It really does make for grim watching.
5 People Even Started Protesting Against The Shows
Toddlers and Tiaras caused so much controversy before it was pulled from the network that parents and their children even began to protest. When one child was dressed as Julia Robert's character there was a lot of complaints and Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the PTC, said, "There’s no question, TV executives are complicit in robbing these small kids of their childhood. For years we’ve seen adult sexuality being inappropriately and aggressively foisted on innocent young children, but children today are being sexualized at younger and younger ages."
Wendy Dickey, the mother of the girl who dressed as the fictional adult worker argued, "Well, at this pageant there was an option to do celebrity-wear. We thought about what we could wear with her being a brunette and Julia Roberts is my favorite actress of all time. I thought it was real cute to do Julia. She’s 3, if she was 10 I never would have considered this. But as young as she is I thought it was very comical." Another competitive mom, Juana Meyers who's daughter is Mackenzie, said, "If this were a sport, no one would question it. This is her sport."
4 They Are Tearing Real-Life Families Apart
When Jon and Kate Gosselin first appeared on the show Jon and Kate Plus 8 - the show was an interesting look at what life was really like for large families. Kate told Ellen DeGeneres that she felt like a "sitting duck" and the fame made her family "easy targets." Since the show aired, the family have been torn apart under the pressure of celebrity.
Kate said in her defense, "I am a mother first. I will always be a mother, and I would die for my kids if need be. I would never put them in a situation that was dangerous or unsafe for them and like any mother … there is nothing I would do to put them in danger. My focus is them. It's not the paparazzi. My focus is not what trip I can go on, or what shows I can do as a result of this thing. This is my job. This is my paycheck, and so this is what I do."
Honey Boo Boo star Anna 'Chickadee' Cardwell revealed that she has issues with her mother Mama June. She told Dr. Phil that her mother was allegedly stealing from her as her savings account had just $17.89 left and her trust fund went from $30,000 down to $15,400.
3 It's No Longer Considered "Controversial"
TLC has never been short of controversial moments over the years; there was the Grease-themed pageant where one of the toddler's smoked a fake cigarette on stage as she performed as Sandy, Little People, Big World's anti-gay statement, and My Husband's Not Gay even reached 70,000 signatures on a petition to pull it from the network. But now the channel struggles to shock anyone at all.
Casting for Buying Naked, the show's producer Mike Kane said, "I went down there to scout out a couple locations and what surprised me the most is how quickly it starts to feel normal. The taboo element dissipates." This really speaks volumes about how successful would have always been - if the show's producers were no longer shocked by what they say from day one then how are viewers expected to find it controversial?
2 People Want Class Not Car Crash
What TLC really need is a hit franchise like The Real Housewives which has been an unbelievable success worldwide. The reason why so many people switched on to the show is that, unlike the majority of TLC's programming, they show the lives of the reach and semi-famous. There's drama but the majority of the cast members are swimming in cash so it's all the more interesting to watch.
It's escapism but also a real guilty pleasure and that's what TLC really have been aiming for yet they always continue to miss the mark. One fan posted to Patch, explaining, "I find (The Real Housewives) reaffirming. If you ever wished you were rich and could have that lifestyle, you see it's not what it's cracked up to be and not what's going to make you happy."
1 It's An Embarrassment To Admit We Watch
Most successful TV shows grow from word-of-mouth when people can say "Hey, did you watch that show last night?" but with TLC's low-brow entertainment, it's almost impossible to admit they actually watch these crazy shows. Taking Here Comes Honey Boo Boo as an example, Mama June was the star of the show and at 309 pounds and with her less than appealing boyfriend, Mike a.k.a Sugar Bear, on her arm they weren't exactly the most inspirational of characters.
Looking back on the precious moments when Mama June lets off gas or complains about the 'crust' between the fat rolls on her neck, it was clear to see why the show was eventually canceled. The decisional mother-of-three revealed on the show, "I ain’t trying letting myself go – I just look good when I want to look good." Basically, we're not going to put their poster up on our wall anytime soon.
Sources: complex.com, ranker.com