Think about the biggest way television has enriched your life. Got it? Even if you came up with something like "raised me" or "first glimpse of titties," the people in this article have you beat. Their answer to that prompt would be "saved it." Here are six silly shows that have somehow prevented someone from having an untimely tango with the Grim Reaper.
#6. The X-Factor
If you've seen American Idol, the singing-based talent show that featured Simon Cowell on a panel of judges, then you've seen The X Factor. It's a singing-based talent show that features Simon Cowell on a panel of judges. In England.
Truly a jack of all trades.
In 2007, 46-year-old Jacqui Gray was one of many contestants in the fourth season of The X Factor. Like most talent show contestants, she had little in the way of actual talent. After smirking throughout her entire performance, Cowell asked Gray the patronizing question, "You have a very weird sounding voice, are you aware of that?" Both he and fellow judge Sharon Osborne suggested that she see a throat specialist, saying that it sounded like "somebody else is in there".
"Like a midget or something."
Displaying what has to be the world's least attuned sarcasm detector, Gray decided to take the advice of the judges and see a throat specialist. It was then that the doctor diagnosed her with bronchiectasis -- a potentially fatal lung disease that can cause irreversible damage to the bronchial tubes if you have it, or attempt to pronounce it. Had the condition not been caught in time, doctors noted that Gray's lungs would have been "more infected and full of bacteria than Ke$ha's lady parts."
Not a direct quote.
Gray now takes medication for her condition and thanks Simon Cowell for saving her life. You know, a near-death experience often gives someone a new lease on life, inspiring them to put effort into something meaningful and worthwhile. And after her brush with death, Jacqui Gray has decided t ... audition for more reality shows.
Forgive us if we don't quite feel like giving Simon Cowell a medal for this one.
#5. Curb Your Enthusiasm
In 2004, Juan Catalan was a man with a problem. His brother was in jail for a drive-by shooting, and the 16-year-old girl who had testified against him had been murdered. That was when Catalan found himself in jail as Suspect Number 1 in the homicide investigation.
Above: The face of a murderer? Or the face of the one guy at your local bus station who doesn't sell seedy pot?
Fortunately, he had an airtight alibi: He and his 6-year-old daughter had been at a Dodgers game at the time of the murder. He even had the ticket stubs to prove it, and surely videos of the televised game would exonerate him. Plus, he offered to take a lie detector test, just for good measure. Case closed, right?
Not quite. It turned out the ticket stubs weren't compelling-enough evidence, no footage of him and his daughter could be found, and the police refused to allow him to take that lie detector test. So how did Juan Catalan end up as the luckiest accused murderer this side of O.J.?
By burning his gloves, like a responsible fucking villain?
What Did a TV Show Have to Do With This?
On the day of the murder, HBO was also at the Dodgers game filming scenes for the show Curb Your Enthusiasm. The episode in question revolved around Larry David hiring a prostitute so he could drive in the carpool lane on the way to the game.
After hours of scouring the HBO footage, Catalan's lawyers found a shot of him and his daughter eating hot dogs and presumably not murdering anyone in the stands behind Larry David.
The video also had time codes showing exactly when they were in the stadium, proving there was no way Catalan could have committed the murder. After five and a half months in prison, Catalan was released back into the world, and the plots of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Law and Order: Los Angeles went back to existing only on TV.
In October 2007, a British woman named Beth Cordingly was feeling like shit, if that shit was very, very sick. She had persistent headaches and drowsiness and couldn't stop throwing up. Her only solace was watching her favorite soap opera, Hollyoaks, in between throw-up sessions.
The title card actually shows much more than you need to know.
Hollyoaks, for those of you who are a little dusty in your British soap opera knowledge, is one of the U.K.'s most popular soaps. It's kind of like Saved by the Bell: The College Years, in that the stories revolve around the mischief-making of young students at a community college. If Community and Melrose Place had a drunken one-night stand, Hollyoaks would be their unwanted bastard baby.
What Did a TV Show Have to Do With This?
As Cordingly was lying on her sick bed, Hollyoaks aired an episode in which the following completely plausible scenario occurred:
- Spoiled rich girl Jessica needed her boiler fixed.
- An inexperienced repairman fixed it by stuffing newspaper into the boiler, because he's also inexperienced in tthe ways of paper and hot things.
- Jessica threw a house party, presumably to celebrate her newly repaired boiler.
- Everyone got sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.
As the episode wore on, Cordingly began to notice that the symptoms of the drunken revelers mirrored her own, minus the makeout sessions and slutty dancing.
She headed to the hospital to get a check-up, where nurses probably laughed off her concerns that she had "the thing from the telly." But when the doctor checked her out, he discovered that she most definitely had carbon monoxide poisoning. The kicker? Her doctor said that had she stayed in the house another 24 hours she'd be dead.
In the wake of the story, doctors informed the public that soap operas are still not a good source of medical advice and that they should continue to use WebMD.com when diagnosing themselves with something life-threatening.
"Oh God, it's AMNESIA!"