Top 10 Most Unhinged TLC Shows
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Taryn Crankshaw
Reality TV is really on another level! For this list, we'll be looking at the network's wildest and most outrageous reality programs to date. Our countdown includes "Freaky Eaters", "Extreme Cougar Wives", "Mall Cops: Mall of America" and more!
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Unhinged TLC Shows. For this list, we’ll be looking at the network’s wildest and most outrageous reality programs to date. Do you remember any of these over the top shows? Let us know in the comments!
#10: “Freaky Eaters” (2010-11)
Premiering in 2010, "Freaky Eaters" was an American adaptation of a U.K. series about people with addictions to food. Mike Dow, a psychotherapist, and J.J. Virgin, a nutritionist, co-hosted the docuseries. Each episode followed an individual who heavily relied on a particular nourishment to the point of it becoming a fixation. Every food group was covered, from sauces to meats to sugary substances, and Dow and Virgin offered their expertise to help participants break their habits. After two seasons, TLC canceled it, but clips from the show still rack up many views on YouTube.
#9: “Big Hair Alaska” (2011)
"Big Hair Alaska" lived a short but sweet life on The Learning Channel in 2011. Airing as a one time only special, the two-episode arc centered around the daily happenings of former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin's go-to beauty salon. The Beehive Beauty Shop based in Wasilla, Alaska, was put on the map thanks to Palin's signature voluminous do. Viewers were introduced to Jessica Steele, owner of the Beehive, as she and her team trimmed, snipped, dyed and styled their loyal clientele. However, there wasn't enough drama to warrant an entire series order and Beehive carried on without the bright lights of the camera.
#8: “Extreme Cougar Wives” (2012-13)
In 2012, TLC took a deep dive into the world of May-December romances with "Extreme Cougar Wives." The series followed three couples comprised of women over the age of 50 who dated men decades younger. Although it only lasted three episodes, "Wives" made quite an impact on viewers. Years later, many are intrigued to know whether the couples are still together and what they’re up to. As of 2020, it appeared that fan favorites Jude and Kevin were still an item, while Stephaine and Octavio called it quits. Last we heard, the much loved Hattie, now in her 80s, is living it up in NYC and finding dates on Tinder, though she’s since said she’s ready to settle down.
#7: “My Teen Is Pregnant and So Am I” (2013)
Teen pregnancy has been a topic of many reality television since MTV's series "16 and Pregnant" premiered in 2009. In 2012, TLC also sought the opportunity to explore the subject with a twist. "My Teen is Pregnant and So Am I" followed mother-daughter duos who, as the title suggests, were both expecting simultaneously. The challenging scenario featured a fair bit of drama and showcased the struggles of adolescent parenthood. Although the network has since moved on to other pregnancy related content, such as "Unexpected" and "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," this one was by far the most stressful to watch.
#6: “My Strange Addiction” (2010-15)
As the show with the longest runtime on our list, “My Strange Addiction” was definitely a hit with audiences. Each episode focused on a participant's addiction to something many would typically consider "abnormal". A wide variety of subjects were highlighted, including obsessions with objects, ideologies, and fixations. The series caused quite a stir, with many critics outraged by the exploitative nature of the show. Even with the offers of therapeutic aid, it was said that the explanations and solutions brought forth were rather surface-level for the severity of the issues presented. Although it has been nearly ten years since the final episode aired, this remains one of TLC's most controversial series to date.
#5: “Mall Cops: Mall of America” (2010)
"Mall Cops: Mall of America" is one for the TLC history books. Centred in the biggest shopping mall in North America, the series was a fascinating look at the security personnel's daily lives. It definitely didn't lack action or drama, with episodes showcasing everything from violent individuals to medical emergencies. The show even featured surprise appearances from Sarah Palin and the U.S. Olympic Women's Hockey Team. Despite all the wild things that went down, "Mall Cops" turned in its badge and bid a fond farewell to the network after only twelve episodes.
#4: “Extreme Cheapskates” (2012-14)
It's always a wise choice to budget your expenses, but the folks on "Extreme Cheapskates" took it to a whole other level. This reality show followed penny pinchers who were often proud of their frugal lifestyle, even if the series itself didn't always paint them in the best light. It seemed nothing was too weird for the participants, from cooking a lasagna in a dishwasher to using hair as dental floss. Often, their families and friends were forced to endure this behavior too. “Extreme Cheapskates” wrapped after two seasons, but hey, at least this way TLC saved on production costs!
#3: “Buying Naked” (2013-14)
Who doesn't love a good old fashion house-hunting reality show? They've got it all: high stakes, options galore, and, in the case of "Buying Naked,"...one heck of a twist. As the title suggests, this TLC program featured buyers searching for their dream homes...in the nude. Real estate agent Jackie Youngblood would help her stark naked clients find the perfect environment to fit both their domestic and lifestyle needs. Thanks to some precise placement of objects, blurring, and adept camera work, this show, miraculously, managed to avoid running into any censorship issues. After two seasons, though, "Naked" threw in the towel and ended its clothing-optional run.
#2: “Best Funeral Ever” (2013-14)
Much of the network’s programming centers on life's most important moments. Birth, weddings and yes, even death. Premiering in 2013, "Best Funeral Ever" was a wild and elaborate look into a Texan funeral home known for its anything-but-average services. From disco-themed wakes to boxing ring burials, no idea was too big for the Golden Gate Funeral home. The show offered some lightheartedness and celebration during the usually dark and heavy occasions. However, its unique premise wasn't enough to make it last, and after only two seasons, "Best Funeral" was being laid to rest.
#1: “Sex Sent Me to the ER” (2013-16)
A better title for TLC's "Sex Sent Me To The ER" would have been "TMI"! This series ran for 54 episodes and featured terrifying stories of people's bedroom antics gone wrong. Sometimes the stories were bizarre, icky or straight-up dangerous. These scary experiences were told through interviews with real-life couples and reenactments with actors. Many segments were lessons in how not to be intimate and served as cautionary tales. But, we do have to hand it to participants who were brave enough to share their embarrassing anecdotes with millions of viewers!