Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Loving hating and dirty secrets

One of my least best kept secrets is that I love horrible TV. Most of the TV I watch, I watch because I hate it. Which I enjoy doing. And I have no idea why. I’ve watched every episode of Jersey Shore as well as Snooki&JWoww. I watched the last several seasons of 7th Heaven. I watch Glee and Nashville and Catfish, amused with horror and confusion. Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m watching a show because I’m enjoying hating it or I actually enjoy it… like Castle.  

I particularly like reality TV because it is like skeptical porn… it’s reality… but it’s not reality… and you get to sit there and dissect what may have actually happened and what was editing and how you’re being manipulated. (Or that’s the story that I’m going with instead of just admitting I like it because it’s vapid and addictive. But I really do play skeptic games with myself while watching.)

Do you hate watch tv or movies? Do you hate-read any sites? What should I start watching? What do you dare me to watch?  What is the best-worst show on TV? Tell me your dirty entertainment secrets


The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. It’s… it’s like I don’t even KNOW you! (Which I don’t, but that’s beside the point.) I hate unreality TV*, and in fact, I don’t even have live TV reception at all. I sample/watch a handful of shows on disc (yay Netflix!) but that’s it. (The rest of my TV viewing is movies movies movies!) I like a well-written & performed show, but most of what’s on isn’t. And is interrupted by annoying commercials.

    *I call it that because whatever that crap is, it certainly isn’t “reality”.

    Right now I’m sampling House from Netflix and watching my xmas gift to myself, the complete West Wing.

  2. Skeptical porn. Sorry I’ll come back later and reply when I stop sniggering at those words ;)

  3. As far as bad TV I watch Honey Boo Boo and Ice Loves Coco. It’s funny because, the families are about polar opposites when it comes to material possessions and money and “class” but I feel both shows portray families that show genuine love. No matter if some of it is staged… the love shown in those families is not. I almost get jealous of it at times.

    1. Oh, and CoCo’s sister and sister’s family live in Scottsdale (I live in Phoenix), so CoCo and Ice visit fairly often, and I’ve only heard good things about them.

      1. CoCo comes into my family’s sandwich shop now and again, and they tell me she’s very nice.

    1. I REALLY hope you’re joking.

      If not: Please tell me every little thing you do on your off-time, when you’re just relaxing and killing time and being unproductive because sometimes it’s nice to to enjoy life without a purpose.

      What do you enjoy reading? Watching? Can I call you pathetic, too, for being online and making stupid, empty comments that add nothing to the conversation? Ah, why am I even asking permission? You’re pathetic.

    2. I’m sure you only do worthwhile things with your free time. Like commenting on blog posts that you find pathetic.

        1. Maybe that guy hatereads skepchick. I assume a-skepticks hate read some blogs too? What would be a good term for someone who falls outside the skeptickal area? A-skeptick? Nonskeptick?

          1. I de search yesterday with this name plus Skepchick and came up with a thread from 2010 wherein he left like, one or two comments. It wasn’t very exciting. I didn’t dig any deeper, though, so maybe there are more? But I recognize his name.

            Perhaps he was just cranky. Bob needs a xanax!

          2. Yeah, I went through his old comments and the last time he commented was a year and a half ago. He got really angry at me for an AI where I asked people what their get rich scheme would be if they could create one. I just assume he’s sad because Jersey Shore is over.

          3. So he dislikes silly AI’s. Okay, then. At least there is a pattern of pathetic.

          4. Sometime next week, you should do another banal AI, perhaps something about get rich schemes or terrible tv or along those lines. See if he comments. Then we can call him out on his hate-reading lol.

  4. Also, I love trashy memoirs. Terribly written memoirs. Most of what is written in them is probably not even true, but who cares?

  5. Oh, please watch Doomsday Preppers. I feel like I’m contributing to the degradation of society by encouraging these shows but I am such a gawker.

    (It’s ironic they hoard canned goods true survivalists would learn how to forage or collect rainwater etc)

    While we’re discussing guilty pleasures, I always wondered if the Nielsen Ratings keeps track of what channel people turn to. ie Does my viewing get these fools more funding?

        1. Well, BBC shows aren’t just vehicles for commercials. Except here in the US. ;)

          I currently only hate-watch Glee and Smash, and even those occasionally have songs that are actually entertaining.

          But the major reason we cancelled our cable is because we were spending sooo much time hate-watching terrible shows – American Idol and such weren’t so bad, but 24 and The Swan were.

  6. Yes, I’m a huge fan of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I know it’s manufactured reality and I don’t even care. I watch all of the MTV pregnancy/teen mom shows too AND I watched all of the Flavor Flav celebreality shows on VH1.

    I’m not sure if I hate-read any blogs regularly, but I did really enjoy that one about white conservatives’ reactions to Obama’s victory, haha.

    Sometimes I watch really sappy movies on the premium movie channels! I just watched The Vow, which had some promise but really lost me at the end. And The Notebook, but come on, Ryan Gosling.

    1. I can’t handle those Housewive shows — so full of catty women! It’s just, ugh, it sickens me (though I TOTALLY get the appeal).

      One reason I like Ice Loves CoCo is because it’s not about women fighting. Same thing with Honey Boo Boo (event hough I don’t watch it). Hell, I even like the Kardashians becuase as materialistic and goofy as they are, at least they love each other and aren’t fighting and back-stabbing constantly.

      Oh and I LOVE Chloe and Lamar. Oh man. I would watch that sex tape. I think Courtney is my favorite Kardashian though — she seems like the smartest one.

      1. I couldn’t watch the Pauly D Project because it was so horribly sexist. It wasn’t even cringe-watch sexist, it was “I’m going to vomit if I keep watching” sexist.

        And Honey Boo Boo I tried to watch but then got angry at how much the mom was mocked for having the nerve to consider herself attractive.

        1. Argh … Pauly D. GAG ME.

          I assure you that Honey Boo Boo’s mom knows she’s hot stuff, regardless of what anyone says :)

  7. As an OTAer, my choice of “skeptical porn” is pretty limited… I think if I had access, I’d watch Honey Boo Boo.

    1. Are you kidding me? I LOVE old TV shows. Love love love. Except I’m more about The Dick Van Dyke Show and Three’s Company. Last night I spent 3 hours watching Family Ties.

      1. Marilove, old shows are great!

        We just got the full DVD set of Northern Exposure to watch during the crap summer TV season.

        Old black and white movies from the thirties are great too.

        1. That’s a good one!

          I have a thing for sitcoms, though. I LOVE 90’s sitcoms. I re-watched Wings on Netflix last year and it was AMAZING. Newsroom is still genuinely great, too, and I still cried when I watched the episode after Bill Hartman’s death :(

          Rhoda is my second favorite show (behind The Dick Van Dyke show), but I can’t seem to find anything but the first season online, and I can’t afford the DVD’s. Sniff.

          I watch The Cosby Show and Roseanne all the time on cable (which I get for free, otherwise I wouldn’t have it). Nick at Nite and TV Land are my favorite channels.

          1. Are you talking about the original Dick Van Dyke with Mary Tyler Moore? Hell, we grew up with that! Would watch if available.

          2. I am indeed. :) I’m pretty sure it’s on Hulu (free) and I know it’s on Netflix!

  8. I used to hate watch Smallville on the WB/CW…now I kinda hate watch Arrow. Though, it seems slightly better to me.

  9. The show I get the most ridicule for watching is Merlin. Yes it can be super cheesy, but I love it, even though I am about 20 years older than their target demographic.

  10. Let’s see, reality TV hate watch guilty pleasures –

    -any of those cop shows where they pick up random drug dealers etc
    -Border Security (do you guys have that? – in airports)
    -those shows where they ship delinquent kids from UK to USA to stay with cleancut families or boot camp scenarios
    – anything with truckers – outback, Himalayas, etc

    Ugh horror!

    1. The first three or so seasons weren’t bad, actually, and it was groundbreaking in a lot of ways.

  11. “The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed”

    It’s from the library. For some reason my local branch has an absurd amount of PUA books. They’ve literally got four copies of “The Game”.

      1. (TW for rape culture)

        You know how sometimes vampires have the ability to look into their victims’ eyes and overpower their minds? I’m one of those people that finds that idea appealing in a fantasy context.

        With Mystery, it’s basically like that only he has the power to control your mind with statistics and game theory. I find it quite a steamy read.

        Every other figure in that community is just a rapey life coach. I watched the videos from that PUA conference and found myself very frustrated. It’s like reading a copy of 50 shades of gray with the sex scenes carefully edited out. I wanted to hear guys talking shop about hacking into my brain like they were in a cyberpunk novel, but instead I got a bunch of guys either giving dating advice, or expertly convincing the audience that they’d just given them dating advice without actually having done so.

        1. Interesting, so you found the professed ability to hack into your mind to methodically seduce slightly appealing/seductive in a fantasy context?

          Interesting, why do you think that is?

          I browse the PUA community now and then too, but for entirely different reasons. Namely to see the mindset of its participants and what kind of tricks they’re espousing.

          1. I dunno. It’s a mixture of a couple things. First of all, I really like it when people nerd out about stuff. I’m also a submissive and I love mental bondage. Being on the receiving end of a pick up artist’s attempt at seduction isn’t something I see myself ever doing in the real world, but for some reason, I like reading about it. I’m not alone, romance novel authors are notorious for adding just a dash of rape into the sex they depict.

            There’s a few theories as to why that sort of thing is popular. I don’t really think any of them are compelling.

          2. So you find psychological seduction process is theoretically exciting? Interesting.

            Several years ago (like 7 or so), I used to read PUA books and try certain aspects of them out. Some did work in generating romantic sexual interest, and ironically I met my wife within a few months of that phase of my life. Ultimately though I couldn’t get into it because it boiled down attraction into a game with stupid rules and generally advocated non-respect of women.

            And beyond the terrible sexism, I found it pretty unnatural, because I think attraction should develop naturally, and PUA tries to force it.

  12. I’ll throw out a few:

    — Downton Abbey. First two seasons were pretty good, but I just saw the S3 premiere and I can’t say it’s lived up to the billing this time around.

    — The spouse and I watch Kitchen Nightmares a lot. I don’t know if it counts as truly trashy TV.

    — Storage Wars. Watching people pick up other people’s junk.

    — We catch an episode or two of Real Housewives in whatever iteration on occasion

    — There’s a show on Trés network (does anyone else see it?) called “Quiero mi Quince” and we’ve gotten into it when we see it. It’s kind of “Super Sweet Sixteen” for the Latino crowd. Surprisingly they hit a pretty diverse lot. I watch and just gape at how much a family can spend on one of these.

    In my trashy science fiction collection from the 90s:

    — The Lexx. Man oh man, that was just… weird. In some ways it was pretty terrible, but it was one of those things I kept watching for bizarro value. Whoever did the set design dropped a ton of acid with HR Giger, I think. (No judgements. I’d love to drop acid with Giger, but I wouldn’t want to write a television screenplay afterwards… or maybe I would :-) ).

  13. I drink wine from a box. Is that a dirty entertainment secret? I am listening to the Cranberries. Maybe something I should also keep secret. ? I don’t think I hate TV per say, but I don’t really care for it. I lived without a TV for a while, then we had a tv/vcr combo, where the vcr was right under the screen. This last year, after refusing several TV offers (I think people just thought we were poor and thought my daughter needed, whatever) I came home to find one on my doorstep. I think being away from TV, the ads are pretty ridiculous and what is up with crime TV? To each their own. With that said, I like Big Brother (I snicker just thinking about it!), Poirot on PBS, and MST3K. I mostly read to entertain myself. And there are podcasts! I LOVE PODCASTS! I love making art! Entertainment, what a delightful indulgence!

  14. I watch way too much TV at night. For all you Space 1999 fans out there, most episodes are now on Youtube to watch. Thank goodness I have work and 2 kids to read to and play with to get me away from that box during the day.

    Maybe I should also do other constructive things like read more Skepchick or read some neuroscience. I got this new book by Patricia Churchland called Brain Trust. Have any of you read it? Thoughts?

  15. I love trashy TV! Especially the Real World/Road Rules Challenge stuff on MTV. It’s so deliciously dramatic and ridiculous, with the added bonus of awesome physical challenges that look like so much fun. Too bad I constantly miss entire seasons since I don’t watch anything else on MTV. :/

  16. MTV’s reality shows made me a better person. I’m not even kidding. I used to watch 16 And Pregnant/Teen Mom a lot. It actually taught me to be a lot less classist/snobbish about people who get pregnant. I used to feel incredulous about the idea of anyone in this day and age accidentally getting preggo, especially since I figured out how not to despite my very strict and sheltered Muslim upbringing. Now, I have a lot more sympathy/empathy/understanding for people’s situations.

  17. For me it’s the FX show Justified. The show has legitimately witty dialogue (it’s based on characters from Elmore Leonard’s novels), but the lead character is a U.S. Marshal who shoots people at the drop of a hat. He is pretty much the worst nightmare of people who care about civil liberties and law enforcement. For some reason, I cheer when the lead character shoots a badguy, even though it is under circumstances that would make me nauseated in real life.

    At least it passes the Blechdel test!

  18. Hate watch? Nothing i can think of, honestly. However, I do have a few things I know are bad, but enjoy watching anyway.

    1: Burn Notice, or as i call it, “Ham & Cheese on Wry” (I leave the identification of which of the three main characters is which as an exercise for the reader).

    2: Anime. Not all anime is bad, but unless you are willing to go through a lot of garbage (especially from a feminist/gay rights perspective), or have a reliable source on what is going to be good, it’s tough to get the good stuff. So I go through Netflix and click on anything that catches my eye. And often, when I’m watching one and I realize it’s pretty awful, I’ll think to myself, “Well, it’s only 4/11/25 more episodes until I get to the end, I can make it.”

    1. I LOVE Burn Notice! First, they have at least one explosion per episode, which always makes for great ?TV.?

      And, of course, it’s cheese-tastic — but what I love about it is that it’s very self-aware, too. Lots of winks ?and nudges. And sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s GOOD, too – well written, and well-acted.?

      BRUCE CAMBPELL, hellooo. Oh, man. The things I would do to that scruffy man…?

      Michael is pretty cute, too.?

      Michael’s mom <3 <3 <3 <3 her so much. (I loved her on Queer as Folk, too.)?

      FIONA. She is bad-ass and it's clear, at least to me, that they've written her as a feminist.?

      In fact, the way they protray and treat women is pretty great as a whole. Some of their best villians have ?been women. The woman who played Xena was one of my favorite villians! Loved that whole story-line, ?in fact.?

      I'd consider Burn Notice a feminist show!?


      1. Also, what the hell. I swear I’m sober when I comment here, yeesh! (Well, usually, anyway.)

        The woman who played Xena was a villain on Burn Notice but I’m terrible with names so, yeah. Haha.

    1. Tell me about it- recently I sent an email to my local Member of Parliament copypasted from Word.

      The bold heading came out in some giant 40 pitch font but I had already hit send@#!

      He must’ve thought I was a complete nutjob!

  19. I recently became aware of a series that I now really, really love. It’s a Canadian series called Bomb Girls. It’s about WW2 in Canada and the women (and some men) making the bombs for the allied war effort. Great writing, lots of great actresses and actors (you won’t know the names!). You probably have to look for it on your favorite bittorrent site, but that’s well worth the effort.
    And yes, this is a feminist show, very well written and one with more women than men in the cast.

  20. I also enjoy staying up late at night and watching foreign movies on our SBS ethnic broadcast channel.

    Often boring and sleep inducing but equally possible to find spectacular stuff.

    Check out these on IDMB

    The Message (Chinese)
    Samaritan Girl (Korean)
    Taxidermia (Hungarian)

    1. I should have put trigger warnings for all 3 as they are incredibly challenging. Makes a difference from Hollywood though.

  21. I love watching Ghost Hunters with my daughter. I taught her a lot about critical thinking by explaining how they way they do things are not scientific. After a while, she started figuring things out on her own and was able to tell me why what the Ghost Hunters were saying was bullshit. We got the the point that we would laugh pretty much through the whole episode.

    1. I love reading tales such as yours.
      Great to see new generations learning to be skeptical.
      To me, this gives hope for the future.

  22. The only hate watching that comes to mind is when I still lived at home and my parents and siblings would put on shows I learned to hate, such as Ghost Hunters, A Haunting, Paranormal State, ect.
    Sometimes I would have to keep from laughing. No one noticed, though.

    And then there were cartoons my mom (yes, my mom) would put on that I hated too.

    Nowadays, this really doesn’t happen, mostly since I’m in a different household now where no one watches paranormal shows (the closest exception being my grandmother who watches EWTN, which I group with “paranormal”. That, or just “bullshit”).

    Closest now is whenever someone has on “NCIS”. Well, that might not really count, because I don’t hate the show, just one of the actors.
    I’m sure this probably means I’m required by some law to renouce my citizenship. :)

  23. I don’t hate watch anything, although I love watching awful horror and sci-fi movies with friends and making MST3K jokes. (Boa Vs. Python and Orphan were especially good)
    I can’t look away from American Horror Story. It’s irredeemable and shameless, and I kinda love it for that.

  24. I watch tons of TV, but I have to say I only hatewatch a few select items…it’s hard enough to keep track of the good stuff!

    Under that category though I have to include The New Normal. Really Ryan Murphy’s career is like one long. slow-motion, offensive trainwreck. I had to stop watching Glee though, as it just became too horrid even to enjoy hatwatching. I will admit to actually enjoying the first couple seasons of Nip/Tuck before it really went off the rails, and that’s probably why I keep getting engaged with his new properties.

    I’d probably include the Big Bang Theory on this list, same with 30 Rock since it jumped the shark into a tank of painful self-parody and Flanderization. Same with new Futurama, which I continue to watch out of loyalty even as I lament the loss of its magic (replaced, it seems, with fanservice continuity nods). That’s the kind of thing that makes me fear mightily the return of Arrested Development.

    On a related note, I recently watched the whole Battlestar Galactica reboot, and part of what kept me going was my inability to decide whether or not I actually liked it. The final verdict (for me anyway) turned out to be that is was not a good show overall, but had occasional flashes of brilliance and pathos among the unbelievable plot twists and ponderous Mormon symbolism.

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