The latest in bad TV

Many critics have said it: we’re living in another golden age of television. From Breaking Bad to Parks and Recreation, from The Middle to Game of Thrones, we’ve got a whole lotta good TV to watch. They don’t all bring the ratings, but with online streaming and the my-friend-really-wants-me-to-watch-this-show-so-I’m-gonna-binge-watch-before-the-next-season-starts mentality that pervades our culture, series with unique stories, great casts and fabulous writing can still find a place in this world, even if more people are watching NCIS and The Voice.

However many acclaimed scripted shows they have, most channels want to find their Voice. And I can’t blame them. Having a few Goliaths that really bring in the ratings creates a safe foundation for the lower-rated critical darlings to thrive. However, before you reel in that big fish, you usually catch a few duds that you must throw back in pity.

They can’t all be American Idol…and in this case, the giant tuna is American Idol, and that guy is…uh…really excited about it.

Sometimes, those duds are unbelievably bad. I mean, really, really, really, really bad. Take, for example, the newest addition to the NBC reality line-up: Ready for Love. It’s another bland, misogynistic dating show that pits women against each other so that they can earn the contractual obligation love of one man.  What makes Ready for Love worse is that they add 1) Judges and 2) a live studio audience. Nothing says true love like a matchmaker’s critique. NBC found the only thing that can make romantic rejection feel worse: the harsh criticism of judges and the forced pity of hundreds of complete strangers. I could go on, but Sonya Saraiya did a great job of breaking this show down on AV Club, and you should read her review. Of course, compared to what ABC has been cooking up lately, Ready for Love might as well have Emmy potential.

So far this year, ABC has brought us two shows that I am still convinced must be an elaborate joke. They seem like one-off jokes from The Simpson‘s writers room, and those shows are Splash and Bet on your Baby (YES. REALLY. BET ON YOUR BABY). I’ve watched Splash for about 15 minutes, just to see how bad it could be…and it’s pretty bad. It’s also what I imagined it would be…people who don’t really know how to dive falling from varying heights. It’s like going to the pool and just sitting by the deep-end watching strangers jump in. Except, in this case, all of the women are extremely attractive and most of the men aren’t. Also, there aren’t any of those Freezy-pops I always loved having, nor is there that cute life guard that my bestie keeps flirting with and saying “He’s in HIGH SCHOOL! How hot is that?!?!” Did I mention that I’m also 12 in this scenario? Maybe I buried the lede there.

Anyways, Splash is neither funny nor entertaining…it’s just boring. The only time diving should be shown on Network TV is when athletes at their peak performance levels, who have been training for this event all their lives, are going head to head (head to water?) for medals/accolades. Diving should not be on TV when it’s Louie Anderson and Drake Bell trying to make a little extra cash.

Bet on Your Baby aired for the first time yesterday. I haven’t watched it yet, and but I have a good idea of how this show came to be. I’m guessing the show’s creators were on a play date, and while they were adoringly watching their children play, one of them jokingly said…

Creator 1: “I bet Junie will stack a dozen of those blocks before she gives up and knocks them over.”

Creator 2: “How much?”

Creator 1: “What?”

Creator 2: “How much will you bet?”

Creator 1: “You’re serious?”

Creator 2: “Yeah.”

Creator 1: “Okay, $30.”

Creator 2: “What if it was $5,000?”

Creator 1: “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

Creator 1 and 2 turn to the camera with manic grins.


Okay, so it probably didn’t happen EXACTLY like that. And I’ll probably never know how it did happen. I’ll also probably never watch this show. There’s something a little wrong about it. Parents manipulating their toddlers to complete a task to win money? There’s a distinct “Dance, monkey! Dance!” vibe to this show that unsettles me. Wouldn’t it be better if the parents watching this show just spent time with their own adorable children instead? Just sayin’.

Now, excuse me while I play hypocrite and watch Fashion Star…instead of trying to design my own clothes…or, you know, watching all the episodes of quality TV that have piled up on my DVR (I know, I know, Orphan Black, don’t worry, I’ll watch you soon).


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