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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, May 30, 2024
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No shame in guilty pleasure television

I’m sure you all have your guilty pleasures—those delightful bits of enjoyment you try to eradicate from your search histories in attempts to salvage your credibility—and I am no exception. Whether you enjoy the occasional supernatural romance or find some sort of bizarre pleasure in watching bourgeois housewives pull each others’ hair, these underrated—or maybe properly rated—TV trifles are both the joy and the bane of our existence. Here are some of my current favorite guilty pleasures. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.

“The Vampire Diaries”

Before you gather your pitchforks and plot to dethrone me from my position as TV columnist, hear me out. I was once an angsty teenage girl, complete with awkward body proportions and a resentment towards my peers, and like many other teenagers I was not immune to the allure of the vampire craze spawned by the Twilight franchise. It was around this time that the CW premiered the pilot episode and like a moth to one of those excruciating bug zappers I just couldn’t help myself, though I was sure it would be the death of me. I pride myself on my drive to finish what I’ve started, so I feel compelled—pun intended—to tune in until the series’ cancellation. Each year, I wait for the news that would release me from my shackles and free up another hour of my Thursday nights, but apparently teens across America still revel in watching painfully attractive people suck the lifeblood out of other even more painfully attractive people. Sickos.

“Naked and Afraid”

Mother Nature can be cruel, and her wrath is only exacerbated when you lack even a loincloth to protect your unmentionables from a mound of angry fire ants. The Discovery Channel original series pairs together two contestants, one man and one woman who are sure to have fundamental differences, forces them to traipse around the forest in only their birthday suit for 21 days and then awards them an inconsequential numerical value, or Primal Survival Rating, based on how well they traipsed. It’s basically “Man vs. Wild” sans clothes plus woman and it’s weirdly entertaining. I can confidently say that if I ever find myself forced to battle the elements in an inhospitable locale I will be slightly more prepared than if I had never seen “Naked and Afraid,” which is to say I’ll always remember to pack a change of clothes.

“Pretty Little Liars”

There is no denying that this is one of the worst shows I have ever seen—the dialogue is horrible; the plot is ridiculous. Despite its flaws, it remains one of ABC Family’s most popular original series, so the network keeps it going. The point of the show is painfully simple—viewers, along with a clique of teenage protagonists, must uncover the identity of “A,” a hooded villain whose pranks grow increasingly more malevolent with each episode. Why then, after almost 100 episodes, are we still salivating over the identity of the hooded psychopath? The answer is plot twists, and lots of them. If you miss an episode—heck, if you even get up to go to the bathroom—you can pretty much forget about being able to understand the remainder of the season because someone will have died, come back to life, been extorted and then whacked over the head with a shovel by a drug-addled prep school girl. I want with every fiber of my being to write this one off as a lost cause, but the show has triggered in me a persistence I’ve never experienced before. Each week they promise me answers and each week I flock to the TV even though I’m sure I won’t get any. It’s a sisyphean pursuit but I can’t stop, won’t stop, until I’ve finally obtained justice in the form of closure.

Sure, I’m feeling slightly embarrassed right now, but with this shame comes an incredible liberation knowing that I no longer have to live a constant lie. It’s time to come out of the shadows, leave your internet history intact and embrace your pop culture kryptonite. I promise, you are not alone.

Let your own guilty pleasure TV shows off your chest finally by sharing them with Callie at kollenbroic@wisc.edu.

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