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Top 10 Scandalous TLC Shows

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Sean Newman Top 10 Scandalous TLC Shows Subscribe: TLC, formerly called The Learning Channel has a reputation of producing weird shows that take a look a cultures that are very foreign to us. Most of their shows are shot in almost documentary style and have many of us either shaking our heads or furrowing our brows in confusion. Some of their most scandalous shows include, Here comes Honey Boo Boo, Sister Wives, John & Kate Plus 8, Buying Naked, I didn’t know I was pregnant, My Strange Addiction, Sex Sent Me to the ER, Sister Wives, Breaking Amish, 90 Day Finance, Toddlers & Tiaras, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and My 600 LB Life. MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat:

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Top 10 Scandalous TLC Shows

Formerly known as The Learning Channel, TLC has gained an infamous reputation in recent years for its controversial and polarizing content. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Scandalous TLC Shows. 

For this list, we’ll be looking at TLC shows whose popularity has been boosted by one or more sensational elements. Scandals outside of the show will not been considered. So, for example, Jon and Kate’s divorce will not factor into our ranking. Also, to be clear, we’re not taking issue with any of these shows; we’re simply highlighting them as examples of the sensationalism that’s become standard in TLC content.

#10: “Buying Naked”

Nudists need a place to live, just like the rest of us. This show follows Jackie Youngblood, a real estate agent in Pasco County, Florida. The area happens to house the highest amount of nudists in the United States, and that’s the niche she tends to focus on. There’s not much more to the show, but real estate enthusiasts and exhibitionists alike will find something to appreciate in this “bares all” series. Nudists aren’t exactly common, so it also works as a rare look into a unique lifestyle. Plus, you have to appreciate the talented camera people who seemingly never fail to find props and angles to keep the show appropriate for TV.

#9: “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”

You’d think this show’s longevity would be limited by a lack of material, but it managed to last 4 seasons and 58 episodes. “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” dramatically explores a number of ways in which women can fail to realize they’re with child: some might believe they’re infertile, some might not gain weight, some might get false negatives on pregnancy tests. Is this series a guilty pleasure? Most likely. But when you stumble on it while flipping channels, it’s undeniably hard to stop watching. Even more shocking is the 2015 spin-off special, “I Still Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant,” which explores stories of women who’ve experienced this particular problem more than once.

#8: “My Strange Addiction”

The phrase “My Strange Addiction” could be used to describe the fixation with most TLC shows… But instead, here, it’s the title of one of most bizarrely hypnotizing series in the network’s history. The controversy lies in the show’s tendency to shine a spotlight on people with shocking addictions, while doing little to aid their recovery. What’s more, the show’s been accused of fabricating conditions, or at the very least, allowing people to fake addictions to be on the show; although such claims have never been verified. Still, it’s hard to turn away when people on TV claim to be in love with dolls, eat toilet paper, or pull hair out of shower drains for fun.

#7: “Sex Sent Me to the ER”

Let’s be honest: mankind has been both fascinated and obsessed with sex since the dawn of time. An evening watching reenactments of sometimes hilarious, often cringe worthy, sex accidents is bound to be enthralling – and thus this guilty pleasure reality TV show was born. Some accidents are relatable, like mishaps during shower sex. Others are utterly outlandish, like a woman who couldn’t stop climaxing to the point where she required hospitalization. To be honest, we have to assume this show was picked up the network almost immediately after the idea was pitched... this low hanging fruit of a concept would’ve been hard to pass up.

#6: “90 Day Fiancé”

Hey, here’s an idea: why not make a mockery of immigration laws in your country through reality TV? This sentiment must’ve resonated with the creators of this series, in which couples with one member living outside the U.S. fill out a 90-day visa. They then have 3 months to overcome language and cultural barriers, and decide if holy matrimony is right for them. Those who aren’t ready to tie the knot must send their lover packing on day 91 and promptly end the relationship. Everything from medical tests to interviews proving validity is included in the path toward marriage in this twisted and scandalous spin on “The Bachelor.”

#5: “Sister Wives”

This show’s premise is provocative to say the least, to the point where it may be downright illegal. “Sister Wives” details the daily life of Kody Brown and his wives Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn – relationships that have resulted in 18 children. Kody is allegedly only legally married to one of his wives, but the unusual situation still prompted a felony bigamy investigation in their home state of Utah. Even those open to this counter-cultural concept have condemned Brown for exposing his family to possible prosecution for the sake of fame and money. Despite this, or perhaps as a result, “Sister Wives” has garnered enormous popularity, averaging over 2 million views per episode.

#4: “Breaking Amish”

At the heart of many TLC shows is the desire to take a little-understood cultural phenomenon and share it with the world. The Amish rite-of-passage Rumspringa sees young adults separate from their community in order to decide if they’re devoted enough to the lifestyle to live a life of piety permanently. In “Breaking Amish,” a cast of Amish youths goes to New York City, and everything from tattoos to strip clubs and binge drinking ensues. As if that weren’t scandalous enough, the show has been outed as inconsistent, and at other times, downright fake. And, in the sensationalist world of reality television, that’s no small feat. Of course, the criticism hasn’t been enough to stop spin-offs. [Breaking Amish: LA]

#3: “Toddlers & Tiaras”

“Toddlers & Tiaras” follows young children and their families as they compete in various beauty pageants. Toddlers are oftentimes completely transformed throughout an episode, and their guardians are portrayed as vicariously living through them - willing to stop at nothing for success. Most notably perhaps, one child was actually asked to smoke fake cigarettes on stage, while another was forced to pad her bra. Unsurprisingly, the show was put on a 3-year hiatus in 2013, followed by a one-season reboot, and finally, cancellation. While most shows on our list exploit adults, “Toddlers & Tiaras” featured the added bonus of taking advantage of children who have little to no agency when participating in such activities.

#2: “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding”

A name like The Learning Channel suggests educational merit, and under that banner, a show focusing on marriage customs of Romani-Americans sounds like a promising exploration of a distinct culture. Ask any one of its many, many critics however, and they’ll quickly tell you that “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” is anything but. According to them, the depiction of Romani-Americans, or Gypsy people, is inherently racist and does nothing but reinforce false stereotypes about an already-marginalized community. In fact, its legitimacy has been questioned to the point that some claim no true Romani-American gypsies have actually appeared on the show. Despite all the bad press, the show’s continued success kept it on air.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Best Funeral Ever”
- “My 600-lb Life”
- “If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World”

#1: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”

On a network rife with so-called exploitation, many critics say this is the worst offender. Basically a spinoff of “Toddlers & Tiaras,” it depicts Mama June, young Honey Boo Boo, and a cast of equally colorful characters as they attempt to win child beauty pageants. But don’t let that plot fool you; it’s more of a thinly veiled excuse to display the outrageous and dysfunctional activities of its cast in the name of entertainment. The show was finally cancelled when it was discovered that “Mama” June Shannon was dating a convicted child molester. But even with its early cancellation, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” firmly cemented its place in TV history as one of the most scandalous and highly debated reality series to ever air.

Do you agree with our list? What TLC TV shows do you think are the most scandalous? For more realistic Top 10s, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo. 

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