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February 17, 2019

Josephine Clofullia a/k/a “The Bearded Lady of Geneva” (1853), Source, Author Thomas Martin Easterly (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Americans use the acronym TLC in a variety of contexts.

Shorthand for “tender loving care” in common parlance, the acronym in a real estate context implies that a property will require anything from small improvements to a total renovation by the buyer.  In car sales, it means much the same thing, i.e. that a vehicle has been neglected and is in need of repairs.

Titillation and A Disturbing Identity

On cable television, the initials identify what was originally known as The Learning Channel.  Initially, TLC favored home improvement, and personal make-over shows.

In recent years, however, the channel has taken on a new and disturbing identity.  TLC seems to have decided that titillation is the route to a wider audience.  The more bizarre the subject matter, the better.

A few examples of the programs featured are listed below:

  • “My Strange Addiction” (2010 to 2015), a reality show profiling individuals engaged in compulsive behaviors ranging from extreme body building to the ingestion of bathroom cleanser and toilet paper.
  • “Sister Wives” (2010 to present), a reality show about a polygamist with four wives and 18 children.
  • “Seeking Sister Wife” (2018 to present), another reality show about polygamous relationships.
  • “My 600-Lb Life” (2012 to present), a reality show which follows morbidly obese men and women.
  • “I Am Jazz” (2015 to present), a reality show about a teenage boy who views himself as transgender.
  • “Dr. Pimple Popper” (2018 to present), a reality show about a dermatologist who treats disfiguring skin ailments, in gruesome detail.

To be fair, WE now features a program called “Extreme Love” which profiles individuals with “incredible and unusual” relationships, to quote the advertising.  These include a man in his 30s involved with women twice and three times his age; a man obsessed with sex dolls; and a man encouraging his 700 lb girlfriend to gain additional weight.

Lifetime, another cable channel, has a reality show titled “Married at First Sight” in which individuals legally marry a complete stranger.

A 21st Century Freak Show

The argument is put forward that such programs normalize people living on the fringe, removing the burden of shame from them.  These shows are said to broaden the mind, and enlarge our definition of what it is to be human.

In fact, the very opposite is true.  Viewers are participating in the creation of a 21st Century freak show, making a spectacle of the suffering of others, and glamorizing what was once recognized as depraved.

All in the name of enlightenment and entertainment.

The Desperate Search

These people are not freaks.  They are men and women in desperate search of love and respect – or simple relief.

Clearly, however, our society has forgotten the very concept of love.

We smile at what we once looked on as sexual perversion.  We watch with lurid fascination as fellow human beings wrestle with intractable problems, applaud as the institution of marriage is reviled and distorted beyond recognition.


This is not enlightenment.  It is voyeurism.  It is damaging to us, to those who are its victims, and to society at large.

How fitting that many of these programs should appear on a channel which identifies itself using the acronym TLC!  The implication, of course, is that the channel is people-oriented, lifegiving, a source of tender loving care.  And, admittedly, tender loving care is greatly needed.

But – just as in real estate and car sales – use of the acronym is a warning.  Let the buyer beware.

Satan’s Counterfeit

The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of lies (John 8: 44).

Jesus said to them…‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’ ” (John 8: 42, 44).

Lies are the weapons Satan uses against God’s children, all the while masquerading as an angel of light.

For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11: 14-15).

Satan, in other words, takes on the appearance of good to do evil.  He despises mankind, using every opportunity to mislead and deceive us (Rev. 12: 9), in an effort to destroy our relationship with God.  Satan not only speaks falsehoods, he hides and distorts the truth, blinding the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4: 4).

By contrast, Christ is the personification of love.

“ ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ ” (John 10: 10).

The love Christ offers is the genuine article, not the counterfeit Satan dispenses, whether on TLC or elsewhere.  The love Christ offers has the power to heal and console us, sustain us against the darkest of impulses, and protect us against the wiles of Satan.

It is that love all of us so desperately need.


  1. An excellent article Anna.

  2. totally agree with you. I am appalled at the number of reality shows on TV now that are simply like the old freak shows…

  3. Great article Anna. You have brought to light that the need for true love and acceptance can only be found in Jesus Christ. I find most of the shows you mentioned very disturbing and have not watched them beyond commercials and a few minutes while channel surfing. Definitely not my cup of tea.

    What is most sad, as you pointed out, is that the TV audience has a front row seat to the modern day version of the carnival freak show. That we would find any of this remotely entertaining says far more about us than we realize.

  4. A huge amen, Anna.

  5. There does seem to be a fascination with “reality” TV.
    Considering all the programing unfit to watch, it is sad that so many are drawn to it. It all started with a little leaven.. I am sure you remember a time when TV programs were wholesome.

  6. This is the sad truth, Anna 😥 Personally, we barely watch tv—apart from sports or cooking and the Mountain Men sort “reality” shows. Any show that makes money is scripted to an extent :-/ But for the past several years, I’ve definitely noticed new show titles morphing into darkness. The titles can be enough to freak me out, And then I think of the actual audience sitting and filling their minds with that lame darkness and sneaky wickedness… heartbreaking! 😦 💜 Jackie@KWH

    • I share your sentiments, Jackie. I try to avoid these programs, as well. It feels, however, as if a dark tide is rising. Thankfully, Christians can look forward to the Lord’s return. ❤

      • Yup… even amidst the dark tide rising, we believe and are thankful to know the One reason who keeps us looking up! 💕🙏🎶😇✝ 💜 Jackie@KWH

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