Seriously, What Is Up With TLC?

By Tim Surette

Aug 25, 2010

About 10 years ago, someone somewhere wished for one thing: a cable network that's wall-to-wall programs about people with too many kids, little people, and people who make sugary snacks. With those mismatched subjects, the wish seemed like an impossible dream.

Well, the person who made that wish is one happy camper now. TLC, formerly The Learning Channel, is showing no signs of veering off its kids-cakes-and-little-people course. The network gave the greenlight to Sextuplets Take New York, the latest in a series of TLC shows that reveal the extremes of what fertility drugs and a super-powered vagina can do.

This trend started with the success of Jon and Kate Plus 8, which brought celebrity to the fame-hungry parents and proved that douchebags wear Ed Hardy shirts. But it didn't stop there.

When not showing reality programs about big clans, TLC shows reality programs about really big clans—like the obese Coles of One Big Happy Family. Or really small clans like the Roloffs, a family of little people featured on Little People, Big World. Or just a couple of little people, as on The Little Couple. Or little people who make regular-sized sweets on The Little Chocolatiers. Or normal-sized people who make big-sized sweets on Cake Boss. Or normal-sized people who make small-sized sweets in DC Cupcakes. If you are into people and sweets of various sizes, TLC has a configuration for you.

TLC also has a show about normal-sized people making small-sized people look like normal-sized people; it's called Toddlers and Tiaras. It also has a show about normal-sized people who are about to make little-sized people but don't know it in I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. And don't forget about Hoarders: Buried Alive, a show about normal-sized people who would probably collect little-sized people and stuff them in their houses if they could.

There's also a show about people (presumably normal-sized) who tattoo other people in Los Angeles, LA Ink. But if that's too West Coast for you, there's a show about tattoo artists in Miami, Miami Ink. And who doesn't love mall cops? TLC loves 'em, and it has a show called Mall Cops. True to the network's form, the program follows the cops at the biggest darned mall in the country, Minnesota's Mall of America. It wouldn't be TLC unless it was the biggest or smallest something.

This bizarre programming baffles me. Seriously, what's up with TLC?

What once was looking like cable's second Discovery Channel, a haven of education and learnin' stuff, has now become TV's circus sideshow. It's only a matter of time before TLC announces Bearded Ladies: Super Styled Mustache Competition. Now THAT I'd watch.

What are your thoughts on TLC and its curious programming?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • tvspaz626 Sep 01, 2010

    you forgot to add all the wedding shows they have but otherwise, spot on! made me laugh! :D

  • otaku_4_lyfe Sep 01, 2010

    You forgot extreme poodles! The show about making little dogs look like big freaks!

  • suzieqster Aug 27, 2010

    You are pretty much spot on in your comments about the current TLC channel.

    The only show I've seen, and that was in surfing the channels and catching part of it by accident, was The Little Couple, and it seemed to be very interesting, the little bit that I saw. The worst and most disgusting show in all TV, and again, I only saw a little of it, mainly because it was so trashy, is the One Big Happy Family. I understand why they wanted to expose themselves on TV, but how in the world did they convince someone to actually put them on TV?????!

  • cgagnon00 Aug 27, 2010

    hmm... so all I have to do to get my own tv show is to have 27 kids? Better get to it I guess!

  • Geek_Queen Aug 27, 2010

    Apparently, the main thing we're learning from The Learning Channel is that if you have more than the normal amount of kids, either at once or all together, you can have your own series.

  • xixamadeira Aug 27, 2010

    Toddlers and Tiaras is the most DISGUSTING thing I have ever had the misfortune of watching. Those people should be charged with child endangerment !

    btw in europe TLC stands for Travel and Living Chanel, just saying...

  • Hoeech Aug 27, 2010

    There was a time -- the "before-time" as I call it -- when TLC actually had interesting and informative programming. But just as A&E; is no longer about "Art" or "Entertainment", TLC is no longer about "Learning."

  • Squishier Aug 26, 2010

    How do you say bored...TLC

  • jelly_donut_92 Aug 26, 2010

    TLC used to be, not so much...

  • Sami5118 Aug 26, 2010

    I'm sooooooooooo glad my parents are too lazy to get cable.

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