Television’s greatest programming routinely challenges our society, our beliefs and our fears. Well crafted TV shows can make us think and inspire us. Maybe even adjust our moral compass… Yeah, right. Whatever. Sometimes you just want to flop on the couch, slack-jawed, beer at the ready, and let waves of pleasure wash over your stress-addled brain! I know I do!
This Friday Five! brings you the top five guilty TV pleasures from 2012. There is just one rule: NO REALITY SHOWS! I cannot condone any of that. Remember, I said waves of PLEASURE… I watched Here Comes Honey Boo Boo once and all I felt was a soul-shattering darkness. I immediately took a shower and donated to Children International.
All the (scripted) shows on this list are awesome in their own demented way and I highly recommend you indulge in at least one or two — they just aren’t likely to show up on the family Christmas wish-list any time soon.
So enjoy! And as you delve into television’s darker desires… imagine what shows must have been turned down! *shudder*
5. Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)
Bitches be crazy! If the movie Mean Girls went small screen slumming, had an illegitimate child with CSI: Miami and then, in a fit of shame, dumped the child in the woods to be raised by wolves… that offspring would be Pretty Little Liars! This show is deliciously feral. It’ll bite and scratch — but in all the right ways.
4. True Blood (HBO)
I suppose, these days, any show about vampires falls into the “guilty pleasure” category… but True Blood started with a really interesting take on the genre (a synthetic blood that allowed vampires to come out of the closet and reveal themselves to humans). Then the show blew the top off of something I like to call the “What the F@%$?!” scale. The WTF?! scale is a way to calculate the totally unbelievable, yet completely compelling and insanely addictive essence of a guilty pleasure show. More than plot twists or bizarre characters (though that is certainly part of it), it’s when a show makes you scream, “OMG, say what?! I can’t believe they actually went there!” At this point, True Blood is so far off the WTF?! scale I can’t even take it seriously. And that is why I love it.
3. Gossip Girl (The CW)
Gossip Girl is basically The O.C. (perhaps my favorite guilty pleasure of all time) on steroids. And, like The O.C., the show’s greatest strength is consistently delivering what people crave most from guilty pleasure TV programming — tons of beautiful people, spectacular locations, more beautiful people, gorgeous clothes… and, oh yeah, even more beautiful people. Do you need another reason to tune in?
2. Spartacus (Starz)
Shows are guilty pleasures for different reasons. Why don’t you want your mom to know you watch Spartacus? Nudity, bad language, and extreme violence. And why can’t you stop watching Spartacus? Nudity, bad language and extreme violence! This show has a sexy/cool visual style (a combination of 300 and Gladiator) and is oh so decadent! Plus, Spartacus refuses to hold back, boldly throwing caution to arena sand and stabbing a pitchfork through its face. I mean, seriously, the finale of the first season is titled “Kill Them All.” Guess what the characters do… Oh, yeah! How high does that WTF?! scale go?
1. Revenge (ABC)
As the screenwriting adage goes: “secrets make scenes.” No show has more secrets and subtext than Revenge and that makes it a complete delight! I can only imagine how much fun it is for the actors. Revenge combines all the features highlighted on this list — it has a slew of stunning actors (both male and female, natch), absurdly attractive costumes (you like pastel and popped collars?… oh you have no idea) and some wonderful Hampton locations (beach-side clam bake!). And don’t worry, it totally delivers on the WTF?! scale. Revenge is simply, straight up, a really good time… And that is the most important thing, isn’t it?