More than 95 million Americans are exposed to the TLC channel. Whether they like it or not, they would have come across it's featured programming more than once. Anyone who has enjoyed a quiet evening at home, flicking through the channels would have found themselves screamed at by attention-seeking titles such as: Extreme Couponing, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, Hoarding: Buried Alive, Breaking Amish, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant and My Husband's Not Gay. It is enough to make your skin crawl but these programs actually exist.
There is an undeniable fascination surrounding the lives of others. We don't just want to see ordinary people on our TV, we want to see all their oddities too. Reality shows have an ability to really bring out the worst in people as they sensationalize modern day reality and place people in the public eye for intense scrutiny because that is what the public wants to watch.
For the past couple of years now, TLC has come under some intense scrutiny. The channel seems to be having some trouble with the people they choose to film, rendering them in hot water and this article explains exactly why they are in this situation.
15 There Is More Drama Off-Screen Than On
TLC had one of their biggest hits pulled off air this year when the Duggar family, who featured in 19 Kids and Counting (2008-), faced up to extremely shocking revelations in the press. It was reported in many newspapers and online forums that 27-year-old Josh Duggar had abused underage girls when he was 14-years-old. He admitted to the horrible acts and the show is in talks about being pulled from the network. Josh lives with his wife, Anna, and their four young children. They had an entire episode of the show dedicated to their wedding in 2008.
Josh confessed that he had in fact made terrible decisions as a child and that he had been sent to a church counselling group but the authorities were not alerted by either of his parents. Then in May this year, In Touch magazine published a full report detailing Duggar's past crimes and accounts from his victims. He apologized on their family Facebook page and resigned from his position as executive director of FRC Action.
14 They Don't Criminal Check Their Stars
Alongside Josh Duggar's case there were also other stars on their TV channel who should have gone through a vigorous criminal check before the shows aired. The show's lawyers state that: "TLC preforms a background to make sure you will provide safe and responsible service to the public". However, they did miss the following shocking criminal connections that surely should have been flagged down in any background check.
June Shannon, star of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012-2014), was photographed with her ex-boyfriend after he was released from jail after serving time for abusing Shannon's 8-year-old daughter.
13 They Expose Children
In the show Toddlers and Tiaras, parents help coach their young daughters to become mini-beauty queens. The children, often as young as two-years-old, are encouraged to wear fake tan, get hyped on energy drinks, wear sexualised outfits and have a face full of make-up for their modelling shots.
Some outrageous moments have included three-year-old Paisley wearing a Julia Robert's in Pretty Woman costume and her Mom said this was acceptable because at her age "she doesn't know" what the film is actually about.
12 Accused Of More Than Abuse
Another episode of Toddlers and Tiaras exposed the unfortunate life of Selena who was a mini-beauty queen at just three years old. Poor Selena was not allowed to play outside with her younger siblings because her mother feared that the sun would damage her rosy complexion. An award winning face is much more important than childhood memories according to this cruel parent as she said on the show she just wanted to keep her daughter, "perfect".
There was also the case of Karmen, another beauty queen who wasn't allowed to eat until after she had competed in the pageant despite her requests for sustenance. There have also been constant complaints online that the children involved will suffer some long-term damaging effects to their mental health. Becoming so consumed with your own image competing with your beauty may cause serious self-esteem issues when they are older.
11 Their Audience No Longer Trusts Them
Breaking Amish (2012-) is a reality TV show that gives viewers a look into the young lives of Amish people living in New York City. After only two episodes viewers began to turn their back on the idea as they believed it was basically just a pack of lies. The daughter of the family, Kate, appeared to be a huge technophobe who struggled to work an elevator yet years earlier she was posting photographs of herself online and was able to enter modelling competitions with her shots.
Another character, Abe, told the cameras that he never partied before in his life. Yet his records show that aged just 18-years-old he was arrested for alcohol intoxication in a public place. Abe also appeared on the show meeting his love interest, Rebecca, for the first time. However when the couples personal Facebook accounts were investigated it turns out they had met before and even had a newborn baby together. It's safe to say nobody was buying into the show anymore.
10 They Strayed Away From Their Roots
TLC forty years ago was a completely different channel when compared to what it is today. There is nothing unfamiliar with channels re-inventing themselves but these guys really have detached themselves completely from their roots. Originally labelled The Learning Channel they weren't as obsessed with reality-television back in 1972 and would never have dreamed of broadcasting episodes of Extreme Cougar Wives (2012).
The channel was originally founded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The programming was informative and instructional so they could provide educational access through television. Not quite the same as following a 76-year-old woman around with a camera in her face as she hunts for young men and claims to always put out on the first date.
9 They Are Not Ahead Of The Trend
During the early 2000's there was a huge boom of reality television programs. Nowadays with constant scandals, cancelled shows and falling ratings it doesn't look good for the future of this type of brash TV. Audiences are becoming tired of the same old formats just being recycled time after time and they are expected to still be excited about it. Even huge shows like "American Idol" and "The Real Housewives" franchise are not doing as well as they once did.
So what will TLC move to next so they can assure they continue to entertain audiences? Nothing. Despite all the warning signs being there and viewers switching off by the thousands, they have yet to declare any new programming that is fresh or ground-breaking. Maybe they will wait in the shadows to see which channel comes up with the next big thing and then just mimic that. Seems the most likely option.
8 Broadcasted Bullying
My Strange Addiction (2010) showcases people's extremely bizarre addictions. In short, these are people who have serious mental conditions and need help rather than to be smirked at. The New York Daily News declared the show the "most disgusting reality show on television". If you have watched one episode you will understand, these people need help more than to be broadcasted for millions to see.
7 Lives Destroyed
TLC is constantly churning out low-value entertainment. It appears that everyone and anyone can now be considered "entertainment". But are they single-handedly destroying the lives of their stars? Some critics seem to think so. Many online forums suggest that the children who appear on the shows will need supporting with counselling when they become adults.
Also, the channel has been accused of wrecking marriages by placing them under intense negative scrutiny. Jon and Kate Gosselin, stars of Jon and Kate Plus 8 (2007-2011), raised eight children together in front of the cameras. They also announced their pending divorce in front of the cameras too. Had the pressure of being on the show not been at the forefront of the relationship, they could have probably been very happy together.
6 They Make Viewers Feel Uncomfortable
There are only so many episodes you can watch of children gyrating in hot pants, women eating shards of glass, grandmothers discussing their busy sex lives and couples divorcing on screen until it all starts to get a bit uncomfortable. TLC keep throwing out this cringeworthy content and it is beginning to make people not feel the "guilty pleasure" of viewing anymore but instead just outright guilty.
5 They Are Turning Awful People Into Celebrities
Mama June got her big break in the fame game when she featured on an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras (2009-2013) with her daughter, Alana. Now Alana is better known as Honey Boo Boo and she became a worldwide sensation with her outlandish mottos such as, "A dollar makes me holler".
In one episode, Mama June gives her daughter a drink which she called "go-go-juice", this highly caffeinated concoction was half Mountain Dew and half Red Bull. It is the equivalent to four cups of coffee and she was feeding it to her own five-year-old daughter. Instead of her children being placed in care, they were placed in front of cameras for their very own spin-off show and Mama June was paid $50,000 per episode in aid of exploiting her own daughter.
4 They Sensationalize Real-Life Problems
Freaky Eaters (2007-) is a show on this channel that can really knows how to make a mountain out of a molehill. They are the first to jump on what should be considered a habit, then blow it right out of proportion and label it an addiction. It all comes across quite like a modern day freak show but the lines between what is real and fake are becoming more blurred than ever.
There was one memorable episode where an ex-wrestler needs is held an intervention to help support him through a pizza addiction. Another episode features a woman who only eats cheesy potatoes and hates vegetables. Sounds boring doesn't it? Well, that's because it is - so TLC try and make the most drama out of it possible. The last thing these people need is a camera in their face and instead should be receiving psychological support for their underlying issues concerning food.
3 The Shows Often Make People Feel Depressed
According to the website Elements Behavioural Health, binge-watching TV shows can actually lead to depression. They reported that when the University of Maryland had a team of sociologists look at more than 30 years of data about happiness and media use, they discovered that happy people watch on average one hour less television per day. Anymore than this can lead to depression as these are significant hours of the day spent sat in front of the TV instead of socialising with friends and family.
TLC allows it's audiences to build fictional relationships with the cast members by allowing them into the most personal moments of their lives. They then schedule back-to-back episodes all ending on shocking climaxes and gripping cliffhangers. It's perfectly normal for someone to be gripped by this kind of entertainment but sometimes it can actually damage their grip on reality.
2 They Don't Shock People Anymore
Over the years there have been so many reality shows that depend on the using the shock technique to try and keep viewers engaged. The sad truth is that tragedy doesn't shock people anymore because we have become so accustomed to it. This is most likely down to the fact that we really have seen it all before.
Word of mouth is extremely important for broadcasters because people want to watch what everyone else is watching. Long gone are the days when unruly children, extreme diets and wrecked marriages could actually make the front pages of the national press. Now TLC have backed themselves into a tight corner where they have almost lost the thrill factor completely.
1 They Really Are Running Out Of Ideas
Their latest blunder was when they launched My Husband's Not Gay (2015) where they follow four men who live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Despite being attracted to other men they believe they are not homosexuals. A petition by angered gay rights activists appeared on Change.org after the first broadcast and attracted more than 130,000 signatures to have the show cancelled. They believed it "misinformed" the public that people choose to be gay or straight. It was fair to say that TLC really had run out of smart ideas when they came up with this one.