Seriously, What Is Up With TLC?

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 TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (19)
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Every man with passion hates this channel. .its a difficult thing for some just like ..and never use a cosmo to understand men its wrong 100% of the time ..without fail.
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you forgot to add all the wedding shows they have but otherwise, spot on! made me laugh! :D
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You forgot extreme poodles! The show about making little dogs look like big freaks!
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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?????!
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hmm... so all I have to do to get my own tv show is to have 27 kids? Better get to it I guess!
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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.
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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...
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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."
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How do you say bored...TLC
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TLC used to be awesome..now, not so much...
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I'm sooooooooooo glad my parents are too lazy to get cable.
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You are waaaaaay to kind to Toddlers and Tiaras, Tim! As for the super powered vagina I hate to burst your bubble, but with that multiple a birth, you can bet it was a super powered scapel and C-Section behind the big event! And if I may, I think you are just the man to suggest a new trend to TLC: given your penchant for all things boobie (see your True Blood commentaries) perhaps you could come up with the mammery of all programming ideas for them!! You go, Tim! And remember to throw a few coins my way when you make almost as much as "The Situation" for your efforts...
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Anybody remember when TLC used to stand for "The Learning Channel?" I haven't learned a damn thing from that channel in almost a decade. In fact, I'm pretty sure I now get dumber every time I watch it.
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TLC has taken the place of the old carnival side show. Human oddities that make us wince. They have destroyed the Gosselin children and are now taking on a new family. I will NOT watch TLC anymore.
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It's getting more tacky and bizarre by the day. I think there's no depth to which they won't sink. Some of the shows started out as good ideas, but when people started having problems, TLC did nothing to help them. They just wanted to keep making money off them. Very sleazy and exploitative.
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Don't forget about all the wedding shows. Four Weddings, Masters of Reception, Say Yes to the Dress, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Wedded to Perfection, Battle of the Wedding Designers, Rich Bride Poor Bride... and many more
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I boycotted TLC for months when they announced the new Hate plus 8 show. I mean seriously, after that family is just messed up. But there are honestly quite a few shows that I like watching from TLC. I like 19 Kids and Counting because its fun and nice. Like how can this super nice family be on the same network with that other family. I also like watching LA Ink. The art is fantastic and I like Kat Von D's taste. I also like watching What Not To Wear. Its a great show, even for men. I really hate TLC for trying to be the like the Food Network with their Food Challenge shows and Cake Boss. I mean Ace of Cakes > Cake Boss. The Hoarding show is interesting, I don't know a lot of reality psychological shows other than Intervention. I just hope they stop showing the Hate plus 8 show. They don't deserve to be famous.
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I LOVE YOU TIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
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If I bad cable I would be recording that channel all the time. I love a lot of their shows.
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