Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 33: Sleazy Talk Shows

Talk shows are a mainstay in television programming. Of the American talks shows I have seen and heard of, there are too many that are watered down and boring. Among all shows, there are three I would really call trashy. These sleazy talk shows all listed below. There are some things these programs have in common, including the hosts’ exuberance, the quality of guests, the audience, and the effect the shows have on the common viewers.

The Jerry Springer Show

sleazy talk shows, jerry springer, the jerry springer show

When I talk about sleaze on American television, this may be one of the first if not the first shows that come to mind.

Going from video tape from an early episode of this show, I would say that it was in between today’s Steve Wilkos and Bill Cunningham. Springer might have on some preteens or a couple of “normal” people with a complaint might appear on the show to hash out some problems. It was still pretty stupid, namely because of the questions that Springer would ask his guests, but not at the low level it is today.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 33: Sleazy Talk Shows”


Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 32: Self-Image Issues

Eventually, we all look at the messages television programs send. Not only do we look for hints of morals and values, but the personal messages that deliberately or inadvertently, discretely or conspicuously sent to viewers by the writers, producers, and executives. Preeminently, viewers are bombarded with the issue of self-image and more specifically, body image on a daily basis.

I can list three basic ways television programs affect viewers’ body and self-image with the last perhaps being the most dangerous. I’m just gonna be pretty blunt here. If this offends anyone, so be it.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 32: Self-Image Issues”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 30: Learning on the Job

It’s very easy to tell when someone on TV is learning on the job. It’s often very painful to watch.

What do I mean by “learning on the job”? It’s quite simple. There are two basic scenarios at play: In one, a child or young adult actor is cutting their teeth on camera. In the other, a former athlete is transitioning to become an analyst (for their respective sport). I will take note of some improvements in either case, though it is still difficult to watch in the meantime.

Acting Is for Beginners

Once in a blue moon, you will come across a wonderful child actor who appears to have his/her priorities in order. This kid is very professional and you will hear wonderful things about him/her by older co-stars, especially well-known veterans in the entertainment industry. (Mara Wilson, Dakota Fanning, and Abigail Breslin quickly come to mind. So does Jonathan Jackson, who started acting when he was about 11 years old.)

Most other kids are naturally rough out of the gate. This is part of the reason why young adults are hired to play teenagers. Chances are, those older actors have been working hard at their craft for at least five years; it shows in the way they are able to deliver their lines and successfully convey emotion.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 30: Learning on the Job”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 29: Your Age Is Showing

There are a few concerns I have when it comes to age and television (and movies). In particular, I hate it when it is clear that an actor is too old for a role, because sometimes, it is far too obvious that a twenty-something is playing a 15-year-old. It just looks bad when some 28-year-old in heavy makeup is playing the most popular boy in school or a woman who is obviously over 25 is playing a high-achieving class president.

It might not have been as obvious [to younger viewers] when Beverly Hills 90210 first aired but it was shocking to first find out some of the actors’ ages. (I’ll let you decide what you think about Gabrielle Carteris’ role as “Andrea,” since she was the oldest to play a high-schooler on the show starting at age 29.)

However, it became clear that young adults would be cast in these roles. There would be many shows aimed at teens, including Dawson’s Creek, and most of the cast would be played by actors already in their twenties. Why? Many of these actors have more range than most teens do and are better prepared to deal with heavier material. Does it still bother me? Of course it does.

Here are a few glaring examples:

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 29: Your Age Is Showing”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 28: Recycled Plots

You may think you’re about to watch a fresh episode of one of your favorite series, but as the show is half-way through, you notice that you have practically seen a story before. Is this déjà vu? No, it’s just the laziness of the writers.

Every now a then, a show or group of shows tied to one writer/producer will repeat a plot that it has previously shown. Either the writers have effectively run out of ideas or they really need some time to recharge.

Note that this topic also includes copycats. In this case, one program totally rips one plot or premise from another.

Peter Engel Shows Had Noticeable Recycled Plots

If you have ever seen a Peter Engel show, you would know what a recycled plot is.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 28: Recycled Plots”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 27: The Disney Channel

I grew up loving The Disney Channel. The first time I saw it, I was of course a little girl, so there were plenty of good shows to see in the early part of the day.

And for a time, there were set times during the day that were set aside for small children, older children, families, and just the adults. But the prime time was in the afternoon to early evening, when most of the kids would be watching.

What I Like(d) about the Disney Channel

If you ask a 90’s kid about The Disney Channel, they might be able to tell you about some of the things that were on during the decade. One popular show on The Disney Channel was The Mickey Mouse Club. The show started way back in the 1950’s when Annette Funicello was developing into a star in her youth. It would be updated in the late 1980’s as The New Mickey Mouse Club and launch the careers of stars like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Keri Russell, and Ryan Gosling, just to name a few.

Kids from the 1980’s can tell you about Kids Incorporated. While not as many stars were featured on that show, there were a few people on the show you might recognize: Jennifer Love Hewett and Fergie.

Come to think about it, The Disney Channel has been very musical. Either shows like these aired or they would occasionally introduce musical numbers in their other shows. I guess it stays true to The Walt Disney Co.’s reputation, one that was built with its cartoon shorts and animated films.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 27: The Disney Channel”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 26: Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, SpongeBob, silhouette, orange
Basically what the network is all about now.

Nickelodeon is a network I found by accident as a child. When I first tuned in, I was enthralled by some of the shows that were on the network. These shows mainly starred kids (!) and there were games shows like Double Dare (!). I remember shows like You Can’t Do That on Television and Clarissa Explains It All. Nickelodeon would eventually air its own cartoons and Hey Arnold! was one of my favorites. In the mid-1990’s, Snick (Saturday Night Nick) was born and there were a number of awesome shows aired initially. The network had variety and at times it was painful to see it turn over to Nick at Nite after Nickelodeon’s allotted hours for the day.

I can’t say that I really care to watch the network today. It also has more than one sister network and I can say the same about them. In fact, the programmers at Nickelodeon networks act like they have been huffing paint thinner since early adolescence. Just take a look at the schedule. It’s abhorrent.

First and foremost, I have to talk about the show that has overrun the network proper for a decade.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 26: Nickelodeon”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 25: Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network 2010 logo

I never had the chance to watch Cartoon Network at its inception, but I was somewhat intrigued by the original series it offered. When I got to finally view the network, shows like Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Powerpuff Girls. I think I liked the third show most of all. The story was simple but there was solid humor. The other two shows lost something in their later seasons.

There was more to see on Cartoon network beyond its initial offerings. Classic shows like The Flintstones and The Jetsons were occasionally shown. However, some of these would be moved to Boomerang (which would ultimately suffer from network decay itself). Despite that, the network would also feature more original shows that would come to be beloved. I still love Operation: Kids Next Door to this day and I respect much of the writing behind Teen Titans.

I also grew to love Adult Swim. I will talk about that later in this post.

What’s Wrong with Cartoon Network Proper Today

The lineup would suffer a sharp change in 2010. As I mentioned in Episode 1, Cartoon Network was sharply showing signs of network decay as its top executive wanted to move away from showing cartoons (!) and show original, live action programming. Former President and Chief Operating Officer of Turner Animation Stuart Snyder spearheaded this shift in 2009. There was a huge backlash from viewers and Snyder had to quickly change course. He finally left the company in March 2014 and would ultimately be replaced by Christina Miller.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 25: Cartoon Network”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 24: Seth MacFarlane


As many of us know, Seth MacFarlane was behind three animated comedies on FOX that all had varied levels of success: Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Of the three, The Cleveland Show was canceled, but the other two have been on for at least five seasons. At one point, these three shows were all featured on FOX’s “Animation Domination” lineup, making for a mini MacFarlane takeover.

For this post, I will give a general rundown of each show. And although I haven’t seen all the episodes, I have seen enough to know what I do and don’t like about each program. I especially wanted to revisit this topic because of Family Guy’s rapid and rough decline.

Family Guy

Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy, animated comedy

I’m gonna be honest here. I never caught the original airings of Family Guy in the first two seasons. I can faintly remember hearing about it, but the animation never really attracted me to the show.

I began to take interest in the show when it began airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. However, I did not like most of the characters at first. I hated Stewie as the evil baby, I did not think much of Peter, Lois, or Chris, and I hated how Meg whined. Brian may have emerged as my easy favorite due to how grounded he seemed. My opinions would change over time.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 24: Seth MacFarlane”

Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 23: Iconoclasm

Before we begin, let’s look at some definitions.

Iconoclasm (noun icon·o·clasm \ī-ˈkä-nə-ˌkla-zəm\):  the doctrine, practice, or attitude of an iconoclast

(Don’t you just hate it when a definition contains the root or original word?)

Iconoclast (noun icon·o·clast \-ˌklast\):  a person who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted

1:  a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

2:  a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions

Source: Merriam-Webster Online [1],[2]

As you can see from one of the above definitions, the term iconoclast was created to describe a person who would literally destroy religious images (icons). Nowadays, we defer to the simple definition of the word iconoclast.

Wherever you look, iconoclasm is everywhere. And on TV, it comes up in many instances. You will definitely see people stick closely to the original definition of iconoclasm as they deride religion. You will see people going out of their way to make fun of celebrities. That, too, can become annoying. Another form of iconoclasm is straight-up character assassination.

Continue reading “Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 23: Iconoclasm”