Seriously, What Is Up With TLC?

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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

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