The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

I would watch the Learning Channel for 5 days and, in the process, learn everything there is to know. About everything.
The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

In today's super ultra modern world, learning is as easy as getting crabs from a public toilet seat. Just sit there long enough and it'll happen. Feeling confident that this itch-inducing belief is pretty much 100 percent accurate, I ventured forth to do what few men dared do before me. I would watch the Learning Channel for five days and, in the process, learn everything there is to know. About everything.

In an effort to maximize my knowledge, I equipped myself with a pen and notebook, and some Gatorade. It's a known fact that as your brain absorbs knowledge, the rest of your body loses valuable moisture and electrolytes and I'll be goddamned if I end this week as the smartest man alive only to die of dehydration. Stephen fucking Hawking would just love that. Suck it, Wheelie, you're going down.

Day 1

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Things start out fairly promising. A solid two hour block of Cake Boss, a show that takes place in Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. I like it already because Hoboken is one of the most hilarious place names on the map. Look, "hobo" is right in the word. Ha!

In my first two hours I learned that you can make a cake shaped like a bi-plane. You can make a cake shaped like a dragon. You can make a cake shaped like a roulette wheel. But you know what form cake can't take? Love.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Ass Cake with spine? Delicious!

Next up on the schedule? Another two hours of Cake Boss. Fire engine cake. Tiki cake. Leaning tower of Pisa cake. I don't want to sound ungrateful for all this free knowledge, but I'm starting to think all they do on this frickin' show is bake cakes shaped like things that aren't normally cakes.

You'll never guess what was on next. I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with "another four straight hours of Cake Boss." Fireworks cake. Roller skate cake. What could be next? Some kind of cake maybe? Some kind of fucking zany, novelty cake made by mafia stereotype bakers? Cage-fight cake.


The marathon continues until midnight, I shit you not. 16 full hours of Cake Boss. I checked online, there are only 30 half hour episodes of the show, including the newest episode which aired just last week. Do you know how many hours that is? 15. 15 hours. How the fuck did you run a 16 hour marathon of 15 hours worth of show, The Learning Channel?

Things I learned:

The Learning Channel can bend time like a sadistic contortionist obsessed with baked goods.

Preliminary Test:

I attempt to solve a Sudoku puzzle in under five minutes but fail miserably, not necessarily because I'm not smarter than I was yesterday, but because I'm not a single, 43-year-old woman.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Sudoku depression claims hundreds of victims every day

Day 2

12 10

After a fitful night of sleep, I return mildly refreshed but not particularly any more intelligent. With any luck the Cake Boss marathon is over and we can get on with learning everything the world has to teach me about things not related to cake shaped like Luke Perry.

We start our day with an hour block of Bringing Home Baby. It seems to be a show about the first day of life as a new parent. Fascinating. I bet you could make a baby-shaped cake super easy.

Next hour - A Baby Story. This show covers the final weeks of pregnancy and the first couple weeks with a child. So it's like the last show, only the camera crew wasn't as lazy. It makes me wonder if you made a baby cake out of chocolate, would it be racist? Would Asian babies be lemon cake? You'd think vanilla for white babies, but what about albino babies? Probably a little crass to make an albino baby cake.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

That chimp stole my cake!

Next up is What Not to Wear. A shrill harpy and a homosexual degrade strangers for the clothes they wear. I learn something about tapered pants and vertical stripes. I can almost hear the mechanical taunts of Stephen Hawking.

Suddenly I'm hit with something new and my pen and notebook come alive in a flurry of knowledge preservation. The show is 18 Kids and Counting. What I learned? Freak shows are still in business.

As quick as "freak show" rolls off my pen, TLC treats me to Little People, Big World. It's a show about little people. I'm forced to assume the size of the world corresponds since they followed through on that first promise.

little people Tc BIG WORLD season 1

I'm hit with What Not to Wear again. I haven't even gotten dressed yet today, so your pleas are falling on deaf ears.

Goddamn Cake Boss is on next. I elect to take this opportunity to defecate and read some grocery fliers. At the same time! Maybe I am getting smarter.

As I re-enter the room, I'm horrified to discover TLC has bent time again. 19 Kids and Counting is on. I swear to God they had 18 kids like four hours ago, what the fuck?

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Preview of next season's 32 Kids and Counting

To put me to bed in a rage, TLC opts to air two more shows about little people and another Cake Boss. The same Cake Boss that was just on. It was just on, The Learning Channel! Come on!

Things I learned:

The Learning Channel loves the circus, vertical stripes are slimming, there are babies, beans are on sale.

Interim Test:

After searching in the storage space under the stairs for 15 minutes, I find the Rubik's Cube I got when I was 10. I spend roughly 30 seconds trying to solve it before I notice two green stickers and one red are completely missing and many others seem to have been peeled and re-stuck. I forgot I did that.

Day 3

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

I feel like The Learning Channel has been testing me. Obviously I can't become the smartest man alive all catawampus. This kind of power belongs to the worthy. People who can sit through 16 hours worth of 15 hours of show. These past two days have been a test. Today I will learn a surefire way to convince hookers to pay me and the cure for cancer, just wait.

Same shows as yesterday start me off. In fact, the schedule is the same for the next 7 straight hours until something insane happens. 17 Kids and Counting is on. What kind of hijinks are going on here? Also, 17 kids or 19 kids, that woman must have a vagina like a windsock. A big, droopy, Shar Pei one.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Your breath smells funny, yes it does. Yes it does!

The next few hours repeat yesterday as well and I take the time to catch up on my correspondence. I also make myself some delicious Hawaiian Punch.

Next is Mystery Diagnosis. This show is straight up intense. Some kind of crazy shit is wrong with someone, and their family doctor is basically completely retarded, and so are like 5 other doctors. It's like House but without the cleavage, everyone's guessing, they're all idiots and then BAM! Turns out it was Hurler Syndrome the whole time, bitches! Give your medical degree back to that school in the Dominican, you failure.


Just what I think I'm becoming adept at diagnosing Crohn's disease, TLC switches gears and I get Obese and Pregnant. If you just snickered and called bullshit, you know how I feel. There's literally nothing to this program beyond what the name indicates. Everyone at The Learning Channel is horribly literal.

Not content to leave well enough alone, this is followed by Twins by Surprise. It's a show about women who have twins. Surprise!

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Bet that leopard was surprised

For a nightcap, I'm treated to Toddlers and Tiaras, a show about beauty pageants for children that taught me I hate owning a television. You can go to prison in some countries if the last thing you see before bed is a bunch of six-years old in a swimsuit competition.

Things I learned:

TLC is fascinated by reproduction and if I ever get really sick, my doctor will be of no help.

Interim Test 2:

I have a friend write out 25 words on cue cards that I will read through once and attempt to write out again from memory, in order. The test fails when the second card verifies my fear that he wrote "cock juggler" on each and every card.

Day 4

12 10

I sleep in an extra hour today. Do you ever wake up with that kind of thick, syrupy anus taste in your mouth? Like maybe your pillow had an ass and you were rimming it all night? I have that. Is that in any way relevant? God, I wish I knew. I haven't learned shit yet so I can't say.

First hour of TV has been missed but no worries, it looks like I have a seven hour block precisely the same as yesterday anyway. Babies still exist, people still dress like CHUDs.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Here's something new though, LA Ink. Nine solid hours of LA Ink. It's a show about a tattoo place in Los Angeles featuring Kat Von D. It takes me about 5 minutes to learn that I want to climb atop a mountain where I will kickbox robot ninjas and sinister dinosaurs tirelessly until Kat Von D becomes hopelessly enamored with me, this being the most effective way to seduce women, as I understand it. I also learn no one gets tattoos just because, they all have a 10 minute story. I continue to learn this for hours hours.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

Everything here seems to be in order

Things I learned:

Kat Von D is aces.

Interim Test 3:

I attempt to finish a maze puzzle with my left hand. Much to my chagrin, I fail miserably as my pencil runs into a dead end that leads into the mouth of a jolly, cartoon shark. I'm further disappointed to notice this pirate-themed puzzle book is for 1st graders and not geniuses. My spirits rise on the next page when I connect the dots to form the Kraken, however.

Day 5

wit AIM

I don't set my alarm today. When I wake up, I've missed four hours of the seven hour block of shit that was the same as the last three days. Have I missed any valuable information? Fuck no. Today's twist at the eight hour marks is another episode of 18 Kids and Counting. So they gained one back since last I saw them. Is that knowledge, really? What am I qualifying as knowledge anymore anyway? This show is about people who never stop fucking, and the only interesting spin you could possibly put on that theme is not included.

The TLC Experiment: Just How Dumb is The Learning Channel?

This is what's known as an "Amish Porn Money Shot"

In a final insult, TLC pads out the night's schedule with episode after episode of What Not to Wear. You shouldn't wear Hypercolor? Fuck.

Things I learned:

You shouldn't wear Hypercolor. Fuck.


Final Test:

There's only one true test of a man's intelligence worth a damn in this world - Trivial Pursuit. After a solid week of The Learning Channel I'm about to make both Parker brothers shit some bricks.

I go for the first question I can get my hands on - what number can be found at position five in row 14 of Pascal's triangle?

What the fuck does that even mean? That's a thing? I have to assume that's some kind of typo and move to the next question - In which year did the Battle of Hastings take place? No. In what country would you find Cordoba and Bahia Blanca? No. "Mare's Tails" are an example of what cloud type? Fuck.

a rr Trivia Pursuit Trivid Pursuit TOTALLY doie Gbl t ue ar. a hla

This version may have been easier

If memory serves, there used to be far more questions in Trivial Pursuit about the Simpsons, but after shuffling through 15 cards I can't find any. The Learning Channel has forsaken me and I'm really starting to doubt the sincerity of its name.

You can find more from Ian Fortey over at, or right here on Cracked, where today the chef is recommending last weeks look at 8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape, and his look at 7 Safety Products (for the Incredibly Paranoid).

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