The Bitterness Blog

Inanity, Volume Two: Dirty Laundry (TLC Stupid)
July 21, 2009, 1:40 pm
Filed under: The Inanity Files


What a truly fascinating television network TLC has become.  Their current claim to fame is being the home of the adorable family of multiples/turned cheating bitter divorcees Jon and Kate (plus 8, although no one seems especially interested in the kids anymore).  The best show on the network is What Not to Wear, hosted by the ever-charming Clinton and his sassy partner in crime Stacey, both of whom actually seem to have a real fashion sense and give good advice.  (The only obstacle on that show is accepting that no matter what, when stylist Nick gets you in his chair, he is going to try to chop all your hair off.  Fact.)  While some of TLC’s lineup features shows about shopping for the perfect wedding dress or receiving a style makeover, TLC is also the proud home of a number of reality documentaries showcasing people who are some level of freak of nature.

Letting the freak flag fly.

Letting the freak flag fly.

Let me be frank:  I can’t turn away from a show about deformities or medical anomalies.  It’s utterly compelling to watch twin savants go about their daily business of being identical and savant-y.  A special about primordial dwarves?  I’m there.  I think for the most part, I understand why the people on these shows participate in them.  They are bringing attention to a little known and often under-researched condition, like primordial dwarfism or progeria, and I would assume, getting some financial or medical assistance from TLC for sharing their plight.  More power to them.

TLC also spends a lot of time on obesity.  They have an entire show revolving around doctors that perform nothing but weight loss surgeries.  We all know that obesity is a major problem in America, and I think addressing that and documenting the real struggles of real people has at least a little value beyond that of pure entertainment.  I am, however, amazed at the people willing to participate in these shows.  I won’t even wear a bathing suit in public and I’m not being followed around by a camera that is there to record every bite I take and every flab I make for the viewing pleasure of the entire nation.  But again, I get that these shows arguably serve an educational purpose, and I think that’s great. 

Sometimes though, in an effort to differentiate one of their offerings from 3 or 4 strikingly similar shows, TLC adds insult to injury.  Case in point:  the documentary 650 Pound Virgin.  At a certain point, don’t kick a dog when he’s already down, you know?  It’s bad enough that this guy, David Smith, reached 650 pounds and suffered all the emotional and health issues that accompany that.  The man even has a tragic story of childhood abuse and losing a parent as a teenager to boot.  I think we all kind of figured that a guy who has weighed upwards of 300 pounds since his late teens probably wasn’t super popular with the ladies.  He is now 32 years old, 240 pounds, and adorable.  He has even become a personal trainer.  Couldn’t his inspirational story be told without harping on about the fact that he hasn’t gotten laid?

Just go ahead and park your dignity at the door.

Just go ahead and park your dignity at the door.

Matt Lauer interviewed David Smith and while I’m not a regular watcher of The Today Show, I do hold a soft spot in my heart for Lauer ever since he called Tom Cruise out on the crazy a few years back.  And I like him even more now, because during his 5 minute interview with Smith, he allowed him to preserve his dignity by focusing on his amazing accomplishment without ever once asking him if he’d made any progress in cashing in his v-card.  You can watch the interview here:

According to the accompanying article, Smith would not directly say if he is still a virgin, meaning he’s either a true gentlemen (awww!) or he’s smart enough to realize that while it may be good program marketing, advertising your inability to get laid is not the best way to increase your access to poon.

Mortification, personified.

Mortification, personified.

*If you have an affinity for creepy artwork that expertly details the human form at its absolute weirdest, you can find this sculpture and plenty more where that came from at  I don’t know where in one’s home one might display one of these pieces, but you have to admire the workmanship.


1 Comment so far
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Yes, it’s strange how the L used to stand for learning.

Comment by softmelon

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