Film and TV

The Virgin Diaries and TLC's Reality Show Circus

It's rarely enjoyable watching other people kiss (why stand on the sidelines when you could get in the game?), but this commercial for TLC's The Virgin Diaries features kissing that is downright gross.

You can't blame the couple too much, of course, because they saved the first kiss of their lives for their wedding day. Your first kiss probably looked weird, too. Though they're both executing the same unusual carnivorous fish lips move that they can't have learned elsewhere, so we're calling shenanigans.

Falsified virgin documents aside, this one-off special is just one more in a long line of TLC's oddball "reality" premises. The Virgin Diaries is based on an MTV UK show where English teens "between the ages of 16 and 18 contemplate sex, sexuality and their own virginity." The American version features adult virgins from "late bloomers" to a couple who saved themselves for their wedding night.

If watching Bravo is like hanging out with your gay best friend, watching TLC is like visiting a zoo full of caged members of the American fringe, then poking them.

Just a few years ago, when TLC was known as the "Learning Channel," a show like I Eat 10,000 Calories a Day might appear on the channel guide every now and then. Nowadays the only break in the constant cable freak show is episodes of Cake Boss. To wit: Sister Wives documents the lives of polygamist Kody Brown, his four wives and their 16 combined children. (Combined? Michelle Duggar is laughing somewhere right now.) Since the five of them cannot be legally married and are merely cohabitating, we'd like to know which one of those babes gets to have the health insurance.

Then of course there's Toddlers & Tiaras, Secretly Pregnant, the Duggars' aforementioned 19 and Counting and Cellblock 6: Female Lock Up, which features such storylines as "a crack-addicted pregnant prostitute finds safe haven in jail" and "a jail newcomer turns to a more experienced inmate for comfort, but gets more than she bargains for." We shudder to think.

Reality shows ostensibly mirror our lives but they resemble SNL skits more every day. It won't be long before MILF Island becomes an actuality and the line between our tastes and the parodies of them completely dissolves.

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Nikki Metzgar
Contact: Nikki Metzgar