5 Signs TLC Shows Have Gone From Stupid To Evil
Back in 2010, when the world was still new, I wrote an article about how dumb TLC was. At the time, the erstwhile Learning Channel was converting its schedule to round-the-clock freak show trash. But in the eight years since the article came out, something sinister at TLC has metastasized and grown. Not content to merely be vacuous dumbness, TLC has become an evil network full of evil people committing actual crimes.
It seems like we should be talking about this.
TLC Has A Long History Of Giving Shows To Child Molesters
Remember the Duggars? I'm sorry to even bring it up, but for a time they were the TLC's sickly sweet core. The family at the center of 19 Kids And Counting (previously 18 Kids And Counting ... and before that 17 Kids And Counting) was famous for being a streamlined human-pooping factory that ensconced itself in good ol' Christian values. Except for the part where the eldest son's massive stockpile of creepy hypocrisy exploded over everyone like zombie guts in a horror movie.
Josh Duggar was outed for sexual deviancy when it became clear that he'd been using online cheater site Ashley Madison to meet women and- oh sorry, I'm reading from the wrong notes here. He did that, but he also molested several of his younger siblings. Duggar admitted he had touched several of his sisters and a babysitter inappropriately when he was a teenager in 2015, and it caused TLC to cancel the show. This was a fact his family kept secret, even from authorities, for some time before owning up to it on Fox News in a circus of black bile.
Now sure, TLC canceled the show, and that seems like the responsible thing to do, but the train is not at the end of the line by a long shot. Hop over to Cheer Perfection, a show about overbearing parents who lack basic humanity and hound their children at cheerleading competitions. In 2014, Andrea Clevenger, a mother from the show, was sentenced to two ten-year terms in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.
Somehow this kind of thing even tainted Cake Boss. Which, you know, is a goddamn show about making cake. The only thing less offensive should be Bob Ross painting mayonnaise. Nonetheless, one of the show's stars, Remy Gonzalez, brother-in-law of the Boss of Cake himself, was sentenced in 2012 to nine years for molesting a 13-year-old girl.
OK, let's put a pin in all of this, because I'm gonna come back to it later.
TLC Gives Shows To Other Kinds Of Abusers Too
Not everyone on TLC is a child molester, though. In fact, they also have stars from entirely different subsections of "Worst Person Ever." And you won't find a better example of this than Mama June from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Whatever you may think of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo -- whether you thought it was hot trash on a griddle or whether you inexplicably thought it somehow had redeemed all of reality television at one point -- you couldn't have known the depths to which the mom on that show would have sunk. In this shitshow, Mama June rekindled a relationship with a man who just got out of prison. He'd spent ten years behind bars for molesting a child. That child was Mama June's oldest daughter. Say it with me: What the fuckity fuck?
The goblin matriarch tried to deny she had hooked up with the man who had been convicted of molesting her child, but TMZ had caught that shit on camera. That resulted in the estrangement between June and her now-twice-victimized daughter, because of course it did. But it was par for the course for TLC, which simply canceled the show in 2014 and moved on.
Former Amish returner Jeremiah Raber from Return To Amish was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2017. The man actually scalded his wife with a hot coffee during an argument, which is some fully medieval shit to do to another human. Raber's wife said abuse was a daily routine and Raber himself would apologize on Facebook a couple of days later. The apology includes the line "I learned that she didn't deserve my poor behavior." He learned that. About throwing hot coffee on someone. Like it's algebra.
I guess if you want the full parade of lunacy from TLC, though, you're going to want to hit up Gypsy Sisters. One of the titular sisters got into an argument with her husband in 2015, and he picked up their puppy and threw it at a wall out of frustration. Ya know, maybe we should focus on correcting the behavior of awful people, instead of pointing cameras at them and hoping that you get more laughs than fucking puppy murder.
The puppy killer was charged with puppy killing, and later apologized, via text, for his puppy killery. Now, this didn't happen on a show, and in fact this man was not really part of the show. But it is significant, I think, because have you ever in your life met someone who threw a puppy at a wall when they were agitated? Probably not. But TLC thought that the people whom he hung out with made for damn good TV. That says something. In fact ...
TLC Shows Are Full Of Criminals
TLC isn't just full of Earth's least necessary people. It's also full of silly criminal asshats as well! That Gypsy Sister I mentioned earlier? She moved on from the dog trauma by allegedly defrauding Toys "R" Us, and was arrested in 2018 on seven counts of felony criminal simulation. Incidentally, this came after she was arrested for scamming $18,000 worth of loot at Toys "R" Us just a few months earlier. Which was a couple of years after her sister pleaded guilty to doing the exact same thing at Target. How do you even scam $14,786 out of Target? Steal 7,000 bottles of nail polish remover?
No one gives a shit about marijuana possession anymore. It's like punching a Nazi or pooping in a politician's mailbox. But that doesn't stop TLC stars from being bad at it. Jorge Nava, from TLC's 90 Day Fiance, a depressing show about Americans assuming that their foreign lovers will like Tennessee, was arrested in 2018 for possession when he was caught with 293 lbs of weed. According to my intensive research, that's literally two Kenny Chesneys' worth.
Finally, we have Brandon Putman from TLC's Meet The Putmans, a show brainstormed by their "My Head Is Stuck In This Bannister, I Don't Have Time To Think Of A Clever Name" Division. This show is like 19 Kids And Counting, but with an inexplicably dumber twist: It's three generations living in the same house, which means there are 26 people sharing six bedrooms and two bathrooms. To TLC, that's quality television. To the rest of the world, it's a cult.
Brandon Putman -- who I can't reasonably call "the dad," since God knows how this gargantuan family dynamic works -- was indicted in 2018 for hiring a machinist to make ten parts for an AR-15 that could convert it into an automatic weapon. Hey, a guy who lives in one house with 25 family members wanted a machine gun? This is normal. His current defense seems to be that he's a hunter and responsible gun owner, so sure, get those machine guns to better help you hunt the wildlife of Michigan. Also, as you've probably guessed by now, they indicted his father for the exact same crime.
Terrible Parents Run Amok On TLC
TLC's brand could be summarized as "Your family, if they fell in a toilet from a Rob Zombie movie." There's an unspoken air of smugness behind all the shows, almost like the network is saying, "We're not judging aaaaaaaanyone, we're just documenting what happens" before they trot out their All-Star Dysfunctionalia of behavioral grotesqueries. This is made abundantly clear when you delve into pretty much every family that's associated with it.
In the interest of time, let's ignore all the child molesters I've mentioned so far and just assume TLC is bad for family wellness as a given. Instead, focus on families like the one from Jon And Kate Plus 8. Remember those crazy kids? Well, that show only lasted a couple of years before the show became Kate Plus 8 due to the couple's very bitter, very public divorce. As late as 2017, cops were still being called to wrangle this shitshow. You can find stories dating back to 2009 with pretty much the same narrative.
Does it affect the kids? Reports at different times detail how the dad hadn't seen some of them in years, there are constant abuse allegations, and in one infamous interview, two of the daughters simply stared in silence when questioned on live TV about their lives. Normal kids stuff, ya know?
One of the kids on Little People, Big World claimed his family screwed him out of the royalties from that show back in 2015, and that he quit because it wasn't real at all, they were just forcing him to play a character. Not to be outdone, one of the wives on Sister Wives was extremely publicly catfished by another woman pretending to be a man. She would later claim that the "romance was real," but as with all things on TLC, "romance" can be translated as "the faintest hint of artificial hope in the collapsing shitstorm of life."
The Same Thing Keeps Happening Over And Over
So we've pretty reasonably established a couple of things here, right? TLC families are probably not the sort of stars you want to hitch your wagon to, and TLC executives have either been cursed by a monkey's paw or have alien parasites in the part of their brains that helps them judge character. Because man, it won't stop happening.
We started with the wretched Joel Osteen fever dream that was the Duggar clan. Now meet the Willises. The Willis family showed up on America's Got Talent back in 2014. Mom and Dad oversaw 12 children in a family band -- words that should already make your insides clench in panic. Like the Duggars, they were a tight-knit, wholesome crew of family values Christians. Can you guess what else they had in common with the Duggars, armed as you are with the knowledge of how TLC is basically what you get when you attach a broadcast antenna to Satan's butthole and start sending signals into the ether?
Toby Willis, the family dad, who stood on stage in front of Howard Stern and laughed as Stern joked about how this was a rare appearance outside of their bedroom, received 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of child rape. They were his own kids, and it started when they were as young as three.
Willis was arrested for his crimes in 2016, and I keep mentioning dates for a reason. The Cake Boss brother was 2012. Mama June and Cheer Perfection were 2014. The Duggars and the puppy killer were 2015. Jon and Kate have been going steadily for a decade, with the most recent police involvement happening in 2017. And in 2018, we have guys making machine guns and some coupon felons. How does this keep happening?
The Willis Family premiered on May 5, 2015, while 19 Kids And Counting had its molestation story break May 21, 2015. You have to wonder if anyone at TLC even paused to think, "I hope this show we premiered just two weeks ago that has almost the exact same premise as this one now up to its armpits in horrible abuse is going to be cool." I mean, it's not like they had any precedent at that point to wonder about the sideshow families they were thrusting onto televisions or anything.
Or, you know, maybe they just consider all of this to be free publicity. If so, then ... congratulations?
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