Television’s a funny thing, isn’t it? It can motivate, inspire, teach, entertain, and infuriate. Trends will come and go, but one thing is certain: We love bad TV.
Now, everyone’s version of bad TV is different. We have our guilty pleasures. We admire trainwrecks of all shapes and sizes. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m shamefully proud of my picks.
Days of Our Lives The nearest and dearest unbearably good series for me is Days. Can you believe this show is still on? Growing up my mom at home, we, ahem, were both able to keep up with the Bradys, DiMeras, and Kiriakises. Through disappearances, near-drownings, demon possessions, fires, shipwrecks, imprisonments, disguises, real babies, fake babies, kidnapping plots, weddings, affairs, divorces, and reunions, we’ve seen it all. And that’s not to mention the real deaths, fake deaths, live burials, and returns from beyond the grave. And the cast, miraculously, just seems to keep getting younger. You can keep up with the (exhausting) storyline, or play “Guess Who’s Wearing Hair Extensions?”. Either way, it’s time well spent (I say, with a nearly straight face). And, remember, even if you have a, say, ten- or fifteen-year hiatus, you can be assured to be caught up within a week.
COPS I’m so, so guilty of this one. When Fox TV burst on the scene in the late ’80’s, with unforgettable hits like Married…With Children and The Simpsons, this middle-schooler was in her naughty bliss. Language, cleavage, belching? It was a far cry from The Cosby Show. When COPS debuted in 1989, with its timeless theme song, I was immediately in love. It was a world I’d never seen or experienced, with swearing and running and beer. I couldn’t look away. I’d turn the TV from my room (the one with the dials and knobs) towards the kitchen during dinner so I wouldn’t miss it. And, you know what? When I find it on now, I watch it. Yes, sirree. Because what could be better, more uplifting entertainment, than a toothless man in a wifebeater, actually beating his wife? Nothing, my friends. I guarantee it.
Family Feud Family Feud’s been on the air forever. And I’m ashamed to say that, just like during my childhood, when I see that it’s on, I stop and watch. Initially, what drew me in was the host, Richard Dawson, that smarmy bastard who tongue-kissed all the female contestants. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that they liked it. I loved yelling out answers, and dreamed that someday, my family could be on there as well. I lost interest for a few years, but, through the addition of the famously mustachioed Steve Harvey, that place ain’t been nothin’ but a party! One afternoon this spring, after I had finished some spring cleaning, I turned the TV on for some noise. Family Feud, I thought to myself, Mindless. Perfect. I was sweeping the family room floor when I heard Harvey pose this challenge to the contestants during the ‘Double’ round: “Name a furry animal that looks like it crawled up on top of Donald Trump’s head and died.” And this, folks, is why I can’t quit.
Chopped This Food Network classic is designed to test the mettle of even the most decorated chef. And it does. With mystery ingredients like yak’s lungs, pencil shavings, and crocodile tears, advanced cooking skills are pushed to their very limits. And watching the chef-judges taste it all is an equally delectable treat. “You know, the Starlight Mints really give the puréed Bonsai a bright flavor, and the communion wafer-crusted sea urchin was divine, but the Nerf ball gastrique really missed the mark.” I love cooking – don’t get me wrong – and I especially love food, but guys? Get over yourselves.
DaVinci’s Demons DaVinci’s Demons on Starz is my newest guilty pleasure. Truth be told, it’s awful, with a capital BAD, historically inaccurate, and full of gratuitous everything, but the guy who plays DaVinci is just so hot, I can’t stop watching. You know, really hot, exactly the way you’d expect a fifteenth-century Renaissance man to look – chiseled features, tightly groomed five o’clock shadow, sparkling white teeth, and a haircut just like Gil’s from the Bubble Guppies. Sure, the first episode had nudity, flying, drug use, pyrotechnics, and rough sex, but, what am I? A prude? I pushed onward throughout the season, through time travel, more bare penises than I’d ever seen at once, torture, impromptu autopsies, and Vlad Dracula himself, and, truth be told, I’m a might sad when the seasons end. I sometimes even shed a tear. And the next season? Sign me up! I’m too far in to crawl out now.
So, this is my list, my shame. I’ve exorcised my TV demons, though I can’t say I’ll never watch them again. Because of course I will.
So, what’s your poison?