TLC: An Intervention

Geek Culture

Photo © Discovery Communications; used under Fair Use.Photo © Discovery Communications; used under Fair Use.

Image © Discovery Communications; used under Fair Use.

Listen, TLC, we know the “L” in your name used to stand for “Learning.” You used to have shows that actually taught something — something other than that you can become nationally famous just for having a whole lot of kids, that is. We’ve watched your path move you steadily away from your original mission, and, as people who used to think highly of you, we feel like it’s up to us to show you how far you’ve fallen. So: TLC, this is an intervention.

Way back in the 1980s, you used to have more educational programming than your then-rival Discovery Channel. Back then, the idea of having a show without a clear educational purpose would have been a non-starter for you. Parents could have, and many probably did, turn their cable box to you and sit their kids in front of the TV, sure that their kids would learn something useful. Can you imagine a parent doing such a thing now? Would you want your kids to watch Jon and Kate Gosselin in, well, anything — you know, if a cable network could have kids?

Please don’t get us wrong: all of us here at GeekDad are huge fans of your owner, Discovery Communications. While there are shows on your sibling networks that we think are more sensational than informative, that fact is mitigated by some of the incredibly good programs they show much of the time. We wish we could say the same about you, but, alas, we can’t think of any show you air that would counterbalance such content as “Say Yes to the Dress” or, worse, “Toddlers and Tiaras.”

We understand that your path has been shifted by the siren song of mass appeal. We’re quite aware that “19 Kids and Counting” and “What Not to Wear” draw more viewers than non-exploitative shows, and that more viewers equals more ad revenue. We know that Discovery is a business, and businesses need to make money to survive. But we see shows like “MythBusters,” “Dirty Jobs,” “The Deadliest Catch,” and “Life” on Discovery Channel, and we can only shake our heads at the kind of programming you show. We understand why you feel you need to show what you do, but that fact still disappoints and saddens us.

It’s not too late for you to change! You have the resources to produce quality, educational shows; you’re just not using them. If you put on good shows that teach as well as entertain, we promise to tune in, and to let our kids watch, too. It’s not too late to put the “Learning” back in your name.

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