TLC

TLC’s ‘I Am Jazz’ Is a Smart, Sensitive Portrait of a Transgender Teen

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During the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in transgender narratives on television — Sophia (Laverne Cox) on Orange Is the New Black, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) on Transparent, Cole (Tom Phelan) on The Fosters, and so on.  It’s easy, though certainly dismissive, to label this a trend, but it’s definitely something television has latched on to — and nowhere is this more apparent than among this summer’s reality shows. ABC Family’s Becoming Us, E!’s upcoming I Am Cait, and, starting tomorrow, TLC’s I Am Jazz, a wonderful and poignant docuseries about a transgender teen.
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Understanding the Duggar Scandal Without Schadenfreude: A Reading List

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The distressing news about the existence of old molestation accusations against reality TV religious scion Josh Duggar — leading to the limbo that the franchise remains in now — has brought several other unpleasant cultural strains to the fore. There’s been a good deal of liberal schadenfreude in seeing a seemingly unstoppable cultural force (that stands for some pretty reprehensible principles) taken down in this particular way. And on the other side, we have seen a rash of salacious stories about religious extremism that seek to gratify the same sort of gossipy curiosity that made the Duggars famous to begin with.
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The 50 Most Surreal Premises in Reality-TV History

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Reality TV now walks a fine between being weirdly complicated and utterly basic — yesterday, on Discovery Life, for example, 50 Ways to Kill Your Mother and Outrageous Births: Tales From the Crib debuted! And just last weekend, you’ll recall, it was My Husband’s Not Gaythe show about Mormons keeping their marriages together despite the male component being, er, “not gay.” With spinoffs of spinoffs and ripoffs of ripoffs, no matter how many syllables it takes to describe a new subculture a show’s seeming to invent or the byzantine rules the show’s imposing, as long as reality TV focuses on “real people” but eschews their real problems, which it notoriously does, it remains nauseatingly simple. Because sometimes it’s not even what’s being portrayed, so much as the exploitative way it’s portrayed, that leaves you with the dizzied sense of living in a reality that’s crumbling due to the sheer fact that such shows exist.
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The Insidious “Tolerance” of ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’

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In an online petition, over 125,000 people have begged TLC not to air their hour-long special about women married to gay men in the Salt Lake City Mormon community, which was set to air last night. Despite the protests, it did air last night. People initially worried that this one-time special was actually a backdoor pilot, and that, and if it got attention, it’d lead to a whole series.
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25 of Music’s Most Misandrist Anthems

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Yesterday, we brought you a playlist of 25 of the most misogynistic songs in music’s long history of misogynistic songs. It seems only fair that we pair it with a playlist of 25 misandrist anthems, but the truth is, the tone is totally different. When men bash women (intentionally or inadvertently), it can easily seem like an unnecessary declaration of further disrespect to womankind. When women hate men, it often feels like they’re fighting the patriarchy following thousands of years of oppression. Sometimes the language is extreme, and that’s part of what qualifies these songs as misandrist anthems instead of mere female empowerment tracks — a line Beyoncé walks from time to time. …Read More

Why Sisterhood in Pop Music Is the 1990s Trend We Need to Resurrect

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I don’t want to shock anybody here, but the ’90 are back. Or, at the very least, our tendency to over-romanticize the ’90s has led to the return of the certain staples of the decade: plaid, crop tops, and an energetic re-appreciation for Beverly Hills: 90210. But there’s a particular ’90s trend that we’re missing: sisterhood in music. And not in a clichéd, shared-pants sense of the word.
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The 20 Worst Made-for-TV Biopics About Musicians

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Historically, television hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to making biopics about musicians. Biographical films chronicling a celebrity’s life (musician or otherwise, on television or film) are always going to be hard to do correctly, and will inevitably be subjected to intense scrutiny. Add in TV’s tendency to water down and rush through real-life stories, and it’s nearly impossible to find a made-for-television biopic that’s worth watching. And yet, TV keeps trying — Lifetime will air its ill-advised Aaliyah movie this weekend — and it keeps failing. Here’s a look at 20 of television’s worst musician …Read More

MTV’s ‘Slednecks’ Isn’t Particularly Offensive — So Will Anyone Care to Watch It?

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The film Reality (by Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone), about a provincial Italian fisherman who dreams of being on Big Brother, and keeps dreaming himself into a series of delusions that bring his life crashing down, beautifully sums up the ambiguity of the whole reality TV genre in its very title. In the 21st century, nobody in their right mind mistakes reality TV for reality. The fact of it its factlessness is no epiphany — but reality TV also shouldn’t be mistaken for fiction, either. Stripped of the woes that befall fictitious characters — as fiction is typically written to emulate reality — bracketing people, who, as real people, are prone to tragedy and tragic missteps, into lighthearted, producer-planned dramas that are confined to producer-planned sleepovers or producer-planned outings, reality TV is a claustrophobic realm unto itself of enclosed, resolvable dramas. The “reality” in it is neither “reality” nor fiction as we know it. It’s something far more stifling.
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