Bad TV: If You’re Going to Watch Some Regularly, Which Should You Watch?

I’ve written previously on my relationship with TV: how much I value the connections you can make with characters and the totally valid feelings TV can create in us. Mostly, I think a lot of the TV I watch is good for me, kind of, in a number of ways.

But also, let’s get real. Bad TV is just THE BEST.

We all know we watch some bad TV. (If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a TV, bye and also what’s all your furniture pointed at?) Bad TV definitely makes you a little shallower, a little bitchier, and a little dumber. But we can’t be intellectual and thoughtful and wise all the time, or you would just become insufferable. Everyone’s brains need to shut off sometimes and taking a break from Henry James to live-tweet Bachelor in Paradise really keeps you in touch with the teeming craziness of most Americans.

However, with bad TV, you need to exercise some self-control. Bad TV sucks you in so fast and so strongly that you’re going to be on hour eight of a Law and Order SVU marathon before you even realize what’s happened. You need to have an attitude of balance, like you should have in every aspect of your life: enough bad TV to keep you numb and happy, but not so much that you become delusional enough to sign up for The Voice auditions.

So, if you’re ready to stop being a prick who only watches Mad Men, but you’re wary of getting sucked into the land where Bravo is playing in your house 24 hours a day—what should you watch? Let’s discuss what bad TV shows you should add to your regular, committed rotation.


Vanderpump Rules

Vanderpump Rules is my preferred alternative to any of the Real Housewives. It follows the employees at SUR, a restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump, one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It is straight awful. Everyone on the show is a delusional monster with a supremely inflated sense of self-importance and the show is essentially a rotation between everyone fighting at work and everyone fighting at another bar and everyone fighting on the beach. None of these people in committed relationships can keep their dick in their pants and everyone’s lying about it. I love it.


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I’m so invested that I’ve literally angry-tweeted at the series villain before. (I know this is technically called cyberbullying; we all make mistakes.) It’s almost never boring and is guaranteed to make you feel better about your life choices.

Pump Rules (as the cool kids like to call it) is often available on your cable-on-demand and the new seasons usually come back early winter.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Well, obviously, I watch KUWTK. I am an American, for crying out loud.

Just, you have to watch it. A lot of people hate on them for “not having talent,” but hi, I don’t see you with a $100 million contract for a TV show following your life. I don’t want to have a fight about how impressive of a businesswoman Kim is or how remarkably successfully Kris manages her children, because I’ve already done this on every comment thread on every article ever written about the Kardashians.

Instead I’ll just tell you that it’s damn interesting. They have really watchable lives and the show is a treat even when everyone’s being kind of bland and boring (WE’LL MISS YOU SCOTT, WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US). Plus, don’t even pretend for a second that you don’t want to see Kim taking selfies all around the world.


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But skip all of the 17 spin-offs — they’re never as good.

Nine glorious seasons of KUWTK are available to watch on Hulu now and season 10 will play nonstop on E! all of September. Season 11 comes back September 20, 2015.

The Bachelor/The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise

I mean, obviously I’m going to push this one—I recap it! But I really do think it’s worth the investment. And what an investment it is. Episodes are usually two hours long and sometimes it airs twice a week. Then there are after shows and tell all shows and oh god, you’re going to spend your entire life watching this show. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it though.

It paints a pretty sad picture of gender dynamics and dating politics in America. You’re definitely going to yell at your TV a lot and I wouldn’t recommend watching it without wine (lots of it). But it is so much fun to watch, make predictions about, fight about, and tweet about. Once you’ve watched one, you’re never going to escape.


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Old seasons are only available on iTunes and it’s not worth it to buy (oops, I have). Bachelor in Paradise is wrapping up this Monday and the next season of The Bachelor will be out in January.

The Challenge

Okay guys, I’m going to really paint myself into a loser corner here by admitting this, but I still love The Challenge. Yes, you do know what I’m talking about – remember the Real World Road Rules Challenge when all the cast mates from those MTV shows participated in a series of physically demanding competitions? Yeah, it’s still on. And it’s still awesome.


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As seems to be a trend on reality TV, most people on this show are monster humans. These awful people have to work hard, however. The challenges are intense and fun to watch and all of the relationships—enemies, lovers, and friends—are compelling. Also, this seems to be the least forced and edited of the shows I’m into and that’s refreshing.

The next season is filming now, so look for it this winter.


Adding these shows to your rotation should cover your regular lowbrow needs. Later, we’ll talk about all the shows you can (and should) watch casually and irregularly. I’ll also discuss those which you really need to avoid. (Thanks, Warren, for getting me into Big Brother. Asshole.) Happy mindless TV watching!

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