|You gotta spin it to win it|
|Stop the presses!|
|We want pictures|
TLC (formerly The Learning Channel) is an American television network featuring rednecks, psychics, dwarves, polygamists, religious fundamentalists with giant families, and anyone who lives differently than the majority of the American population. Ironically, it was founded by NASA and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as an educational channel in 1972 (as the Appalachian Community Service Network). It became "The Learning Channel" after being privatized in 1980. Well.
Like other similar channels (the History Channel, Discovery Channel and National Geographic in lesser degree), its educational programming gradually was replaced by more profitable stuff, focused on entertainment, such as various "reality TV" shows, usually with a very tenuous relation to reality. The owners had the decency to drop the "learning" from the brand around the beginning of the 2000's and nowadays the channel is known simply as "TLC".
Sensationalism, pseudoscience and woo
Some of the shows on TLC promote sensationalism and pseudoscience. In particular, the show Long Island Medium promotes the idea that people can communicate with the dead. The star of the show, Theresa Caputo, has been widely criticized as a con artist.
Stereotyping for fun and profit
The channel often features stereotypes about particular groups of people that are obvious exaggerations. The channel's portrayal of Southerners, for example, has been criticized. Ironically, the show All American Muslim was made to combat Muslim stereotypes, but it was canceled due to negative press by people who think that Muslims and terrorists are no different from each other, such as Bill O'Reilly and Juan Williams.
Giving a platform to the worst people
TLC has a demonstrable track record of attracting scandal by giving a platform to some of the worst people imaginable. Toddlers & Tiaras, a show about child beauty pageant families, was widely criticized for sexualizing young children. A scene from the show where a four year old girl swaggered onto the stage smoking a fake cigarette attracted wide condemnation. The patriarch of the TLC show The Willis Family was arrested on four counts of child rape in 2016. The awful Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was canceled after reports surfaced that a cast member was associating with a convicted child molester and registered sex offender. Cheer Perfection, a show following a group of cheerleaders from Arkansas, was canceled after a woman featured on the show was arrested on charges relating to rape of a 13-year-old boy. The long running 19 Kids and Counting and its spinoffs were finally removed after the family's golden boy Josh Duggar was convicted for downloading material depicting the sexual abuse of children to a laptop at his car dealership.
- Audrey Watters, What Happened to Educational Television: The Story of 'The Learning Channel' hackeducation.com, 30 May 2015.
- Jane Wells, When Did The Learning Channel Become The Leering Channel? CNBC, 6 April 2011.
- Barb Oates, Interview with “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo on new TLC series. Channel Guide, 23 September 2011.
- The 'Medium' Is Not the Messenger. Wired, 9 April 2012.
- The Long Island Medium – Can She Really Communicate with the Dead? Inside Edition, 7 November 2012.
- Dodai Stewart, Super Sad and Misguided Emails Intended for the Long Island Medium. Jezebel, 20 October 2012.
- Stephanie Gustafson, Honey Boo Boo’s Neighbors Unhappy With TLC’s Southern Stereotypes. Archived from Reality TV Magazine, 13 September 2012.
- Does 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' exploit children and reinforce stereotypes? Archived from examiner.com, 9 August 2012.
- Shane McGinley, Muslim reality TV show targets stereotypes. Archived from nusrah.com, 17 August 2011.
- Nadra Kareem Nittle, TLC Cancels “All American Muslim”. Archived from about.com, 12 March 2012.
- ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ scandal: 4-year-old Destiny smokes cigarette on stage. Archived from SFGate, 31 August 2012.
- Meredith Blake, News Analysis: The Duggars built a wholesome reality TV empire on TLC. Now it’s in ruins. The Los Angeles Times, 19 December 2021.
- Rich Juzwiak, Reality Television's Year of Reckoning. Jezebel, 29 December 2021.