This post was originally going to be about the History Channel paying $3.5 million to advertise their show “Swamp People” during the Super Bowl. As I was reading over the story, however, I came across this paragraph:
“Swamp People” is History’s third most-watched original series, trailing only “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers.” “Pawn Stars” throughout 2011 averaged 7.02 million L7 viewers, making it the fifth most popular program on basic cable. “Pickers” averaged 5.78 million.
Yeah… none of those shows are about history. Not even a little bit. “Swamp People” is about Cajun dudes catching alligators or something, “Pawn Stars” is just about a fancy pawn shop, and “American Pickers” is about buying and selling antiques. To bastardize a great Mitch Hedberg joke, this would be like if the Food Network started airing a reality show about farmers. It’s ridiculous. Yes, the network’s ratings are up, but I don’t see how they can keep calling themselves “The History Channel” like they’re some beacon for educational programming when their schedule is full of shows like this. I’m on to you, History Channel! YOUR HEAD RESTS UPON A BED OF LIES!
But, the more I thought about it, I realized that the History Channel is far from the only network guilty of this. I’ve compiled a collection of other offenders after the jump.
A&E (Arts and Entertainment) – If anyone can explain to me — TO MY SATISFACTION — what shows about crippling psychological issues and substance abuse like “Hoarders” and “Intervention” have to do with arts and/or entertainment, I will give you $100.
AMC (American Movie Classics) – Despite the word “movie” being right there in the title, AMC has become the home to a number of quality TV dramas, including “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” I would be tempted to give them a pass for this if they didn’t also air reruns of “CSI: Miami” and classic movies like Jurassic Park III and The Sandlot: Heading Home (the direct-to-video third Sandlot film, and an absolute travesty).
Bravo – Formerly the home to a lineup of arts-based shows, centered around their staple “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” the network is now home to a menagerie of shows about hairdressers and insanely rich, drunken harpies fighting over perceived slights involving dinner reservations. The lesson here is this: between this network, A&E, and education cutbacks, the arts in this country are totally f-cked. Our entire economy will be based around getting sh-thoused and punching your friends by 2020.
MTV (Music Television) – The channel that used to air music videos and news now airs shows about pregnant teenagers and orange, roided-up millionaires traveling the world and embarrassing America at every stop.
TLC (The Learning Channel) – I think we’ve been a little unfair to TLC. I’ve learned a ton about soullessly exploiting your own children and other people’s disabilities for financial gain by watching this channel.
VH1 (Video Hits One) – Another music channel, formerly specializing in Michael Bolton and Celine Dion videos, that changed its format over the last few years. It now features a lineup full of dating shows and reality competitions based around washed up recording artists from 20 years ago courting strippers, and spinoffs about the most cartoonish competitors on those shows.
And that’s just a sampling. I’m sure if I sat around and did more research, I could find a bunch more. Feel free to add your own examples in the comments, or just silently be irritated about it for weeks, like I was before today.