By Jemiah Clemons
TLC (The Learning Channel) has produced hit shows such as “1,000 lbs. Sisters”, “My strange addiction”, “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” and plenty of others. While most of the shows differ in content, the exploitation, abuse and humiliation remain consistent throughout. TLC broadcasts people’s issues for ratings while making millions of dollars in profit.
TLC constantly projects fatphobia through their shows “1,000-lb Sisters” and “My 600 lb. life”. TLC aired “My 600 lb. life” in February of 2012 and the show’s release attracted hundreds of new viewers. The show follows different people each episode who decide to make a last-ditch effort to lose weight. Instead of watching for viewing pleasure, most viewers mock the contestants about their weight. In addition to morbid obesity, several contestants also face numerous other health concerns. With all those factors combined, the network continues to humiliate and embarrass its cast members.
Released in 2019, “1,000-lb Sisters” follows a similar format of “My 600-lb life”. Sisters Amy and Tammy Slaton go on an extreme weight loss journey. Now in the show’s fourth season, Tammy has made no progress in her weight loss. Tammy suffers from severe food addiction and instead of encouraging her to seriously treat her disease, viewers took to social media to criticize and spew hate at her. On the other hand, Amy completely changed her life. She gave birth to two children and lost 140lbs since the show’s release. As a result, producers, and viewers metaphorically pin the siblings against one another.
“The fact that she [Amy Slaton] put her eating aside because she wanted a kid is amazing in my eyes. It shows she has more control than she thought. For Tammy, I 100% think producers show her in a negative light. Now, I will admit that Tammy has her moments where she’s constantly disrespecting the only person who really takes care of her,” senior Erica Holder said.
Showcasing poverty plagues the network. “Extreme Cheapskates” explores the lives of people who stop at nothing to spend nothing. Several of the show’s cast members suffer from childhood trauma or mental illness. Those issues come front and center on this show. “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” showed the poor Georgian pageant star Alana Thompson. The producers alluded to the family eating roadkill and showed them struggling financially, despite a pay of $20,000 per episode. In comparison, the “Extreme cheapskates” participants received an extremely low amount of money or nothing at all.
The Duggar family once dominated the TLC network. “19 kids and counting” brought in a slew of high ratings for the network. The then family of 21 appeared as the perfect conservative family for viewers. Underneath that mask of perfection lived a major problem for the family and the network. In July of 2003 Josh Duggar’s father, Jim Bob, sent him away based on child molestation accusations. After sending their eldest son away, the Duggar family hop-ed for a change; however, Josh’s heinous behavior followed him into adulthood. The now 33-year-old faces child pornography charges and may serve up to 20 years in prison.
While Josh Duggar should take full accountability for his disgusting actions, TLC also plays a minor role in enabling both Josh and the rest of the Duggars. The company knew of the allegations, yet they continued to air the family and produced seven seasons along with the “Counting on” reboot. As a result of not receiving consequences the first time, Josh Duggar now faces the court’s legal punishment. The youngest Duggar children needed protection from the adults around them; however, ratings and profit seemed more important.
“Most of those kids have been surrounded by cameras their entire lives so, I find it odd that no one noticed the abuse or mistreatment of the children. I’m glad the truth has finally come to light and Josh [Duggar] is facing a consequence. His actions will leave a deep emotional scar that won’t heal properly,” frequent viewer Sophia Otranto said.
For nearly two decades TLC has continued the trend of exploitation in exchange for views and brand recognition. In return, the network’s stars and contestants may receive fame and money for a short while, but that can soon turn into a lifetime of public embarrassment. TLC’s predatory nature does more harm than any other Reality TV network.