Verdict: Guilty. Sentence: Pleasure! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 guilty pleasure TV shows.
For this list, we’ll be looking at popular shows that many fans are too embarrassed to admit to watching. It’s okay, you don’t have to confess to enjoying any of these, but we know you love ‘em!
#10: “Catfish: The TV Show” (2012-)
This series really exploits people’s bitter disappointments, broken hearts, and shattered dreams, but you just can’t help but marvel at the abundant gullibility on display. You’re probably familiar with the term catfish by now, even if you’ve never tuned in to the show. It’s where people use create fake social media profiles and lure victims into false romances. Then, when it comes time for the deceived to meet the supposed love of their lives in person, they’re left in pieces as they discover their would-be fairytale ending really was too good to be true. This one is a seriously guilty pleasure.
#9: “1000 Ways to Die” (2008-12)
A show which recreates the real life tragic deaths of actual people is admittedly macabre and in somewhat bad taste. However, it’s the unorthodox fashion in which these unexpecting souls met the grim reaper that “1000 Ways to Die” hones in on which draws you in and doesn’t let you turn away; even if it’s just to be prepared for such an outrageous demise yourself! Deriving entertainment value from accounts of human beings kicking the bucket may not be something you share with your friends, but home alone in front of the television, you might just find yourself gripped!
#8: “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-19)
We know, this one is incredibly popular due to its straightforward humour and lowest-common-denominator appealing style, but for many, “The Big Bang Theory” isn’t something you would be too keen to brag about watching. Yet, there’s something endearing about Sheldon, Leonard, and the rest of the nerdy science gang, that just kept viewers coming back for a whopping twelve seasons. It's easy-to-watch, innocuous charms can make it more casual background viewing at first, but before you know it, you’re hooked, eager to find out if Sheldon is capable of loving another human being or not.
#7: “True Blood” (2008-14)
Corny love triangles involving humans, vampires and werewolves . . . campy, hammed-up performances; melodrama galore . . . “True Blood” is basically just “Twilight,” but with more blood and sexuality, and therefore, is actually worth a watch. Unlike with other HBO offerings, you might not be quick to name “True Blood” as one of your most addictive shows, but it can become just that once it gets its fangs into you! The series notably takes a dip in form after some creative changes following the fifth series, but it still lasted for a couple more however, and, overall, accumulated a dedicated, if not inconspicuous, fan base.
#6: “Beyond Scared Straight” (2011-15)
Ever wished you could just throw your misbehaving kids in jail for the day and let the legal system take care of them? Enter: a follow-up to 1978’s documentary “Scared Straight”, entitled. yes: “Beyond Scared Straight”. The show’s format follows ill-tempered juveniles placed in prison to see the potential life they could be heading for. Why try to uncover the core root of their troubles and treat them with love and understanding, when you can give them a good old-fashioned dose of fear to divert them!? The threat of hardened criminals and berating guards may be very cruel, but it can make for really enticing television!
#5: “Grey's Anatomy” (2005-)
The long-running “Grey’s Anatomy” follows surgical interns at a Seattle-based hospital as they blossom into seasoned professionals, but still have to deal with the obstacles of their personal lives. While you might not be inclined to publicly declare your fondness for the cheesy drama, rest assured you’re not alone in your fandom. As far as primetime, scripted US TV shows go, as of 2019, this is one of the longest-running - which is some feat. So sure, it might not be, say, “The Wire” in terms of quality, but it’s hit a chord with audiences enough to last longer, right?
#4: “Jersey Shore” (2009-12)
Does reality TV get any more lowbrow than “Jersey Shore”? The show follows a bunch of young, tanned, image-obsessed Jersey residents, as they party, drink, argue, hook up… and that was it, really. While it doesn’t sound like much of a premise to base an entire show around, it became MTV’s most highly rated series ever, with plenty of spin- offs spawned from it. Like observing animal behaviour in a cage at the zoo, you grow curious of what the cast will do next. Will they resemble anything close to human intelligence? Probably not, but it’s fun watching them try.
#3: “Riverdale” (2017-)
“Riverdale” may be unrealistic, absurd, and over the top for a high school-set drama, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lap it up all the same. No, teenagers don’t talk or behave in the manner presented, but it doesn’t matter when the storylines are so entertaining, in an outright goofy way. It’s a far cry from the wholesome Archie comics it’s based on, putting a darker twist on proceedings. But in typical fashion of a CW show, everyone who appears has to be super good looking. Look, it’s a comic based on a love triangle, of course CW had to adapt it!
#2: “Big Brother” (2000-)
We’re back to the realm of reality TV, and back to the concept of watching people just living, and you know, doing stuff. “Big Brother” is kind of like playing “The Sims,” but you have no control over the subject’s actions, so you’re just hoping for a dispute or a fling to break out. Which thankfully, it usually does. The contestants (or housemates) are occasionally given tasks to do, and must try to avoid being evicted via audience votes, with a cash prize up for grabs. So, you do have some control over proceedings, which is a contributing factor to the guilty pleasure!
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)
“The Bachelor” (2002-)
“The Bachelorette” (2003-)
#1: “The Jerry Springer Show” (1991-2018)
Here you have it: the quintessential guilty pleasure show. It’s simply the ultimate in car crash TV; you want to look away, but you just can’t. “Jerry Springer” is essentially “Maury” on steroids, and the zenith of trashy talk shows. The series was a staple of the ‘90s, and features everything from cheating partners to addicts of all kinds, and includes plenty of shouting matches, and even full-blown fist fights between guests. The show became a pop culture phenomenon, and even features in an “Austin Powers” movie. It may feel dirty to watch it, but you just have to witness the preposterousness for yourself.