True, I’ve spent some time panning TLC reality shows. But who can blame me? With shows like Welcome to Myrtle Manor (how is that even still on?) and Gypsy Sisters, coming up with snide remarks is like shooting fish in a barrel. And that new show? My Five Wives? Yawn. Plural marriage is such a snooze.
There really can be no sugar without spice, though, so I’m calling these the ‘spice’ and moving on.
I feel three TLC shows are great assets to the American family, and, if you’ll do me the honor, I’d like to explain why.
So, without further ado, here are my top three TLC picks for families:
The Little Couple
My husband and I have been watching The Little Couple since before we were husband and wife. The show chronicles the journey of Jennifer Arnold, MD and Bill Klein, who married, moved, built a (might I add, adorable) home, and have recently completed the process of adopting two children from overseas, complicated by both fertility woes and cancer. I enjoy this show for many reasons, but the main reason I continue to watch is that it stays positive. I am consistently impressed by the direction of the show, and I do believe that it is because the couple is involved in its production. There’s no yelling or screaming, no catfights, and nary a bad word spoken. Jen, Bill, and their families approach the tribulations of life, the highs and lows, with a constancy and humor that are infrequently seen. The show is packed with themes that can be applied universally to families, and the concepts of perseverance, unconditional love, loyalty, and respect are always but an arm’s length away. I call it Reality TV with Heart.
Long Island Medium
Maybe I like Long Island Medium because I’m from a loudmouthed, meatball-rolling, stiflingly-close Italian family. Maybe I like it because, I, like much of the rest of the world, am waiting with bated breath to see if Theresa will ever change that hair. Maybe it’s because I, like many of us, really do wonder if there’s life after death. Perhaps it’s all of those reasons. Are the readings real? I don’t know. And how about the everyday conflicts? Not sure. Whether you believe in Theresa’s gift or not, you are left with a feeling that the Caputos could be kind and welcoming friends, or even relatives. What I enjoy most about this show is the warmth, openness, and compassion between the family and families featured on the show. At the end of the day, it’s one of those shows that can (and should) be enjoyed by viewers of all ages, renewing our hope and faith in this world, our loved ones, and the world beyond.
Something Borrowed, Something New
Something Borrowed, Something New is fairly new to the TLC lineup, premiering in 2013. Now, I’m not a fan, in general, of bride/wedding/wedding competition shows, firstly, because I don’t feel weddings need be large, crazy, or expensive, and secondly, because these shows tend to highlight the worst (greediest, or most vain) sides of brides and bridal parties. What Something Borrowed offers the viewer, however, by way of remaking a vintage wedding dress – a family heirloom – into something modern, unique, and, essentially, wearable today, is a connection with family. The bride chooses a ‘something new’ while the heirloom dress is redesigned, she presents herself in both the heirloom and the new pick, and finally, with great anticipation of her family, chooses her gown. There are few things more special for a bride than incorporating an heirloom into the most important day of her life, and this show has shown the ties that bind, even at the beckon of amazing designers, can be stronger than we’ve ever imagined.
These are my favorites. Have you found yours?