Tag Archives: TLC

Fame Day: Kroll Show

goodjobkrollI’ve just started watching Kroll Show (named for its star and creator, comedian Nick Kroll) recently but it’s already risen to the top of my list in terms of TV- so much so that I’ll be taking this Fame Day to recommend it to you.

Now in concept alone, Kroll Show isn’t anything new. Each episode is comprised of skits (interspersed lightly with commentary from Kroll and his comic co-stars) riffing on television, with reality TV taking the brunt of the riffs. You’ve probably seen this done before in less successful enterprises or recognize it as roughly 50-85% of all Seth McFarlane jokes.

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“White Washed Tombs” or “Shame and Social Pressure”

Yours truly is not one to shy away from railing on things I doesn’t like. Or people, I dislike, for that matter. Over the past few months I’ve offered the middle finger to TLC and NBC for their exploitative and repellent shows, ISPs, nationalism, the British monarchy, and one especially vile lobbyist group dubbing itself “Concerned Women for America.” In fact, that last group was so downright nasty I straight up likened them to cancer in the form of a social movement.

And you know what?

I stand by that.

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Evan and Gordon Talk: College Grad Reactions to “Easy Money” Shows

EVAN: Dear readers, we have gathered here today to read as Gordon and I discuss the concept of what I’m calling “easy money” shows, and how we, as recent college graduates, view them.

GORDON: You mentioned a few specific examples earlier on- could you list ’em off again for the readers?

EVAN: Well, at the top of my list is a personal favourite of mine, “Storage Wars.”

Not only does it tickle me to no end that Jarrod ignores Brandi’s warnings not to bid [at around 00:26], but I am enraptured by the promise of finding treasure among, well, garbage. Continue reading

Fame Day: Geek Love

It took me some time to think of a Fame Day topic that also intersected with Valentine’s Day [which is today, if you didn’t know], but once I came up with it there was no doubt in my mind that it was the right one.

Featured on the IGN YouTube channel START, Geek Love tracks individuals as they take part in Sci-Fi Speed Dating at New York Comic-Con. The show originally aired in full-length episodes [focusing on more than one person] on TLC, but never got past the first two episodes.

In the pile-on of proper nouns that was that last paragraph, I’ve neglected to define what exactly Sci-Fi Speed Dating is. Sci-Fi Speed Dating is regular speed dating, but at a comic convention, meaning that most of the participants are cosplaying [in costume]. Everyone must involved must be single and interested in members of the opposite sex [they can be interested in the same sex as well, but it must be in addition to that], and, since I don’t want to go through every single rule, it’s hosted by a very large man dressed up as a Jedi; he is hilarious.

To give you a fuller understanding here’s the first episode, “Brony Friend Zone (Alex)”:


It paints a picture of the stereotypical nerd/geek, a bespectacled pudgy young man with chops who lives with his parents. A show’s got to have some variety, though, and Episode 3 stars a girl named Brittany:


For the record, I would go get coffee with this girl in a heartbeat. I don’t even like coffee, but I would order some and drink it if it was something she was into.

Brittany is a person who “likes video games, particularly BioWare, comic books, Marvel, [she likes] the shows Once Upon A TimeLost, Doctor Who,” in case you missed that. She’s also, by most people’s standards, not a physical representation of what a nerd looks like. She’s also friendly and personable, exhibiting none of the tendencies we’ve been expected to observe thanks to shows like The Big Bang Theory.

The reason I’ve decided to spotlight Geek Love today is because it highlights the diversity within the growing community of people who identify themselves as “nerds” or “geeks.” Episode 4 features a guy who cosplays as Jimmy Olsen [“Superman’s Pal”], and basically no one he talks to recognizes him. As a comic-lover it was hard for me not to get upset at them and scream at the screen, “You call yourselves nerds?!” They were, though. They just like different things. Episode 6 follows Mary, who’s primarily a movie buff. That differentiates her from someone who is very into anime, but doesn’t discourage her from “looking for love” at this convention.

As a show Geek Love also serves as a means of discussing how important your personal likes, passions obsessions etc. are in finding a significant other. Over on his blog Mightygodking discussed this in reaction to a story arc of popular webcomic PvP, and while I may not agree with him 100% his discussion on the necessity of shared interests in a relationship is a good one [be sure to check the comments section, too!]. Clearly the people on this show are looking for potential girlfriends and boyfriends at Sci-Fi Speed Dating because finding another person who loves the same things you love is important to them. How high this should be on your personal compatibility list is up to you, but for them its rank is up there.

Geek Love is a pretty fantastic show for people who are interested in comic books, video games, science fiction, and finding a person to share all of that with. It’s also arguably a good show for anyone who wants their perceptions of that particular sub-culture to broaden their views.

YouTube Channel Playlist Page: Geek Love – YouTube
Updated Every Thursday

TLC (That Lousy Channel)

A couple weeks ago, I unleashed my wrath against NBC for their exploitative and fetishistic show, Stars Earn Stripes. Despite their cold, calculated attempt to make a quick profit off of the sacrifices and hardships of the armed forces, NBC, as a channel, still manages to pump out a handful of decent shows.

The same can’t be said for TLC.

If you’re not familiar with TLC, they’re the channel responsible for such shows as Toddlers & Tiaras and those fifteen different series about midgets (yes, I’ll be using the term ‘midget’, get used to it). Now there’s been some criticism already that TLC (The Learning Channel) doesn’t have a thing to do with learning (not anymore, anyways), but my issue with TLC goes further than that. TLC isn’t just unhelpful or unintelligent- it’s straight-up bad for you.

Here’s Why:

I. Whites Only?

When Evan and I were having a discussion about TLC a few days ago, I brought up how strange it was that they had so many shows about midgets. His response was that he suspected it had something to do with the “celebration of diversity.” That’s probably how TLC would spin it, too. Their plethora of shows centering on midgets (Big Tiny, The Little Couple, Little People- Big World) unusually large families (19 Kids and Counting, Table for 12, formerly John & Kate Plus 8, United Bates of America), and other shows such as High School Moms, Sister Wives, or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are all part of their mission to portray the diversity our world and help us all learn from each other.

Only that’s some ol’ ********.

See, if TLC were actually showing you giant (by Western standards) families or midgets in the interest of promoting understanding, they might actually show some diversity. But just go to the TLC television show page and tell me what you don’t see.

Where are all the black people? Where are all the Asians? Where are the shows about Hispanic families? For Pete’s sake, the combined non-white population of the US is nearing 50%, and TLC doesn’t have a single show starring a non-white family! What’s up with that? Not only are there no shows centered on non-whites this year, but if you look at their “Past Shows” section, you will find one show with a black star and one show with an Asian co-star. Not only is TLC pretty lacking in racial diversity when it comes to its shows, but other major demographic groups are left out as well. Non-Christian religious groups make up nearly 20% of the population- where’s the show about the day-to-day lives of American Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists? Wouldn’t we benefit from a show about life on a Navajo reservation more than Long Island Medium? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say “Yeah- yeah, it would be.”

II. The “Freak-Show”

So we’ve established TLC’s programming is more or less exclusively about white people, let’s take a look at what white people. Counting up the subject material of this year’s shows, we have 19 out of 36 programs centered on what could certainly be titled “abnormal”. That is, one out of two TLC shows deals is about midgets, huge families, addiction, hoarding, teen pregnancy, fringe religious groups (see Breaking Amish or Sister Wives), and the like, with the other 17 shows centered (largely) on wedding dresses and people who bake stuff. Is there anything inherently wrong with all of this? Not at all. In fact, a lot of the subject matter these shows cover looks pretty interesting- most notably Abby and Brittany, a series following conjoined twins. You can’t tell me that you aren’t really intrigued by that.

But that’s not the problem. The problem is the vicious redundancy, and what it says about TLC’s motives here. Currently, TLC is airing two shows about large families (to say nothing about all their past shows about large families), as well as three shows centered on midgets (again, they’ve had other shows about midgets in the past). Why the redundancy? Because it’s about money. The concepts behind both sets of shows are being squeezed for every last penny, meaning when TLC has a camera crew following a family of twenty or a four-foot couple, it’s not because they want to make a quick buck.

“But Gordon, you veritable living library of knowledge, do intentions really make a difference?”

Absolutely.

If I went around with Peter Dinklage and said, “Meet one of the most talented actors of our generation who is also a midget”, that would be constructive. If I went around with Peter Dinklage shouting “Yo! Check out the midget!”, that would be awful. Same goes for anything- just look at Michelangelo’s David. The inention of the piece as a representation of Florence as a brave and mighty city is what makes the statue art instead of marble porn.

Like so…

With this in mind, doubt must be cast upon the rest of TLC’s programming- we’re forced to strongly consider that shows like Long Island Medium, Addicted, Strange Sex, and the like aren’t here for our edification, but for our entertainment. This is all just voyeurism- a chance to stare at people who are different than us. TLC doesn’t keep pumping out these shows about midgets and massive families because they think each show is unique, but because each show is the same. Because they don’t look at the individual qualities (or lack-thereof) of these people- they’re just reduce them to being nothing more than “abnormal”, which is why they feel they can keep making these series. It’s objectification, pure and simple.

III. Only Encouraging Them

In addition to their lack of diversity, and objectification of people who are (by our standards) “abnormal”, TLC is also responsible for for delightful little pile of festering garbage we all know as Toddlers & Tiaras.

Even if you thought my previous point was a little shaky, you really can’t argue with this. TLC openly advertises T&T as a show you’re meant to laugh at. The ridiculously dolled-up girls, the psychotic mothers, the manipulation, the abuse. It’s a show meant to make you feel better about yourself as a human being; that you’re not some morbidly-obese Midwesterner or spray-tanned monstrosity on your fifteenth cosmetic surgery desperately trying to live out your crushed dreams of glory by slathering your daughter with her weight in makeup. Now I’ve got a seriously dark sense of humor, but not even I think that’s funny.

“But Gordon! It’s not like TLC is promoting this idiocy- you say yourself that you’re meant to laugh at these people!”

Ah, but TLC is rewarding these people. Keep in mind that attention is what this is all about, and that the message here is “You don’t have to be talented or smart or funny to be on tv! If you’re a big enough *******, you can still get on!”. Torment your little girl, and you can still get on nationally-viewed television. If we’re going to make any progress towards getting rid of this child-abuse, we need to stop airing this- it’s just rewarding bad behavior and making us worse on the whole. What’s it say about TLC that they show mothers berating their five year-olds and expect us to be entertained?

No, I am not.

And again, with Toddlers & Tiaras as a major TLC show (along with their spin-off Here Comes Honey Boo Boo), this casts serious doubt on TLC’s intentions with their other shows. If you’re expected to find a collection of mentally disturbed women abusing toddlers funny, are you also really expected to be edified by watching The Little Couple or My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, or are these just “freaks” with their lives filmed for your voyeuristic pleasure.

So let’s review what we have here. A channel whose programming is centered almost exclusively on whites, with a majority of its programs centered on “abnormal” families and individuals, presented not for any educational or instructive value, but for your entertainment, demonstrating TLC’s complete and utter contempt for both the “stars” of its shows and for you as an audience. And the rotten, mildewed cherry on top of this bilge-pie is that the entirety of TLC’s programs are presented with this veneer of tolerance and understanding, so they can pass off their twisted side-show as somehow healthy and admirable.  At least when the circuses advertised a chance to see the wolf-boy or bearded woman, they were up-front about it.

As with NBC, I have this to say to the folks over at TLC:

Virgin Comments on TLC Depiction

It’s been a recent development, but I’m beginning to love TLC. No, I don’t mean the band, though their song Waterfalls will always have a special place in my heart, I mean the TV network. The best comparison I can make to watching the channel is driving past a car crash; it’s horrible, but you can’t bring yourself to look away.

It’s not all tragic scenes of humanity, though. The faux fallout bunkers that the people on Extreme Couponing are building are fascinating, as well as the fact that I have watched people buy $400 worth of stuff for under 50 cents. In a similar vein, Extreme Cheapskates teaches a wide variety of ways to save money, such as cutting an “empty” tube of toothpaste in half to get at a week’s supply.

Then, on the other hand, we have the same show featuring Roy Haynes, a man willing to ask for other people’s leftovers while eating dinner with his wife on their 25th anniversary. We also have  Toddlers & Tiaras, where the world of child beauty pageants makes images like this feel like a breath of fresh air.

Premiering at the beginning of this month, The Virgin Diaries is a program that will be easier for me to show, then write an introduction for.


I must confess, I have not seen the show. This extended clip was being thrown around on Facebook on December first, and I later read about it again on one of my favourite blogs. What little I have to say about it has been garnered from clips and reviews I found online.

To follow up that last confession with another, I am also still a virgin. A 21-year-old college senior et cetera, and without any apparent physical deformities or social disabilities that come to mind. I had briefly mentioned this before, and I can summarize my reason for not having premarital sex again now as being primarily based on my faith and my knowledge of relational intimacy.

My question for the show is this: What does TLC, a program I learned today stands for The Learning Channel, want us to think about this? We’re meant to root for the savers on Extreme Couponing, evidenced by the show’s eager chronicle of how much they can accomplish given a deadline. My Strange Addiction is there to evoke an awkward catharsis, a purging of emotions as we see how far others have fallen as well as a strange sense of justification in whatever odd practices we may engage in.

What I take from the teaser above is, at least in that couple’s particular case, that  the light the show is shining on adult virgins is much closer to What Not to Wear then it is to The Little Couple. Program-title-specific jargon aside, everything about the clip speaks poorly about members of this particular life style. Not only does the husband seem completely oblivious to why his wife “want to kiss so much,” her description of their wedding night is painful to behold. Couple with that the fact that a good portion takes place in a playground, furthering their descent into the immature. The kiss, of course, rises above all else as the preview’s crowning glory.

Shelby Fero, of aforementioned favourite blog fame, recounted hours of her life that were taken up by television, Brussels sprouts, and veggie bacon. In closing, she described what she thought of the first episode of The Virgin Diaries.

A way more interesting show would be to watch these people go through therapy and work through their issues. Instead we just laugh at the guy who can barely smooch his wife and ignore how depressing it is when he asks her “Why do you want to kiss so much?”

Entertainment Weekly said the exact same thing in their review of the program’s premiere, the penultimate paragraph of the article ‘Virgin Diaries’ react: Most uncomfortable TV hour ever? going as follows:

Oprah had an episode of her show this past season dealing with a few women in their late 20s who were virgins. With all of them, there was some kind of anxiety/intimacy issue. I can’t help but think if TLC is really interested in being the learning channel, a better idea might be to follow these people around for several episodes, employ a therapist and help them get over some of their hang-ups so they can have fulfilling adult relationships — and yes, those include sex.

The fact that TLC now has a show that is all about adult virgins is only mildly comforting to me. On one hand, there’s now an example on television of people like me, something that others can mentally turn to when they find out where I stand. On the other hand, there’s now an example on television of people like me, something that others can mentally turn to when they find out where I stand.