A lot of people don’t know this, but TLC stands for ‘The Learning Channel.’ That’s right, the network known for titles such as Jon and Kate Plus 8, Little People Big World, and 90 Day Fiancé has the audacity to call itself educational. There was likely a time when The Learning Channel actually produced informative television, but these days TLC airs content aimed at the lowest common denominator.
Taking a note from the History Channel, TLC seems to focus less and less on what its name implies. In turn, the network highlights bizarre romances, unorthodox families, and outlandish obsessions. Titles like My 600 lb Life, and Sister Wives pander to morbid curiosities, while reminding viewers of how much better their lives are compared to those depicted on television. Supposedly, these shows are meant to shed light on the marginalized, invoking sympathy for pregnant teenagers and conjoined twins. In reality, TLC feels like a red flag in the TV guide, screaming, “Come check out these weirdos!”
While these trashy shows may be fun to binge on a rainy night in, the real victims here are the people they depict. The channel’s name ought to be TEC, aka The Exploitation Channel. Watching 90 Day Fiancé is all fun and games until you witness the absolute horror on a child’s eyes after his or her middle-aged dad brings home his 19-year-old girlfriend from Thailand. The span of each show may be temporary, but the consequences can be long lasting. After all, just look at Jojo Siwa: the Dance Moms daughter turned singer/actress/influencer.
So next time you hop over to TLC, maybe take a moment to recognize the reality of the reality show you are watching. Instead of feeling bad for the people on TV, maybe think about how sad it is that you actually derive enjoyment from this stuff. Or toss a bag of popcorn in the microwave and settle in for another eight episodes.