7 Cable Networks in Desperate Need of a Name Change
Original Concept: Named after a show of appreciation usually reserved for such highfalutin fare like theater and opera, the network focused its programming with shows on those same subjects, much like A&E.
What It’s Become: Like a few of the previously mentioned entries on this list, Bravo spiraled into the black hole that is reality TV (if you haven’t caught on yet, reality television isn’t my favorite thing), becoming the place to watch gold digging housewives from nearly every major city in the country complain about how hard life is in between massages, brunches, and making sure the nanny raises their kids for them. Bank account draining succubus‘ not your thing? Then check out one of Bravo’s many shows about over-dramatic hairstylists or fashion designers trying to make a name for themselves in the topsy-turvy world.
The only pillar of Bravo’s original concept left standing (and worth watching) is Inside the Actor’s Studio. The show famously parodied by Will Ferrell back in his Saturday Night Live days. However, the show seems to have relegated to the overnight / early morning schedule usually reserved for infomercials promising to enhance a man’s nether regions to the point where you’ll have to carry around in a wheelbarrow, which coincidentally they were selling in the previous infomercial. Bravo? Oh, hell no.
TLC (The Learning Channel)
Original Concept: Provide educational programming on everything from nature, science, health, cooking, etc. You know, so people could learn stuff.
What It’s Become: The only thing people are learning from TLC these days is that if you’re the least bit trashy, they’ll pay you thousands upon thousands of dollars to put you on a TV show so the rest of the world can see how trashy you are. Have a horrible disfigurement? Great! They’ll give you a one time special as well so they can parade you around like a sideshow freak (see: The Man with the 132-pound Scrotum). If they could only find someone with a disturbing medical condition who also has wacky adventures in their day to day life. Perhaps the man with the abnormally large coin purse in his trousers works as a greeter at Wal-Mart and they could fill 30 minutes each week with him interacting with customers. Call it, Welcome to Ball Mart and you have the best of both worlds! It’s win-win!
What I’ve learned from “The Learning Channel” in recent years is that I have no desire to watch it.
VH1 (Video Hits One)
Original Concept: An MTV for your parents, focusing on the softer side of pop music (what we call “Adult Contemporary” in the radio world) by playing videos from artists such as Anita Baker, Tina Turner, Elton John, Billy Joel, and the like.
What It’s Become: To its credit, VH1 hasn’t completely abandoned their designed concept like another soon-to-be-included-on-this-list network <SPOILER ALERT!>, however it’s clearly no longer the focus. The network still airs the weekly Top 20 Countdown on Saturday mornings, and will run multi-part specials that countdown the best videos from a particular decade, year, or genre. It also continues to run shows that unlike most of the other networks on this list, I’m interested in watching. Their I Love The… series, while focusing more on general pop culture from a certain era, is an entertaining trip down memory lane for those of us yearning to remember the simpler times. Plus you can never go wrong with an episode of Behind the Music. That’s just good stuff. I’ll watch those even if it’s about an artist I’ve never listened to.
Unfortunately, VH1 puts less emphasis on those type of shows, deciding instead to put the spotlight on the staged melodrama of Basketball Wives, Mob Wives, and Couples Therapy. The latter of the three focusing on “celebrities” whose relationships have hit a bump in the road. Because, if Girls Gone Wild founder, Joe Francis, and they guy who founded the tabloid website, TheDirty.com can’t work through their relationship troubles, is there really any hope for the rest of us?
Despite the fact they still run videos from time to time, to continue to operate under the moniker of “Video Hits One” is misleading, perhaps “Video Hits None” would be more appropriate.
MTV (Music Television)
Original Concept: Essentially a televised radio station dedicated to the biggest songs of the day in video form. At the time, MTV revolutionized the way artists could express themselves with their music by giving them the opportunity to visualize it through music videos.
What It’s Become: Arguably the biggest offender of operating under a name that has absolutely NOTHING in common with the programming it runs on this list , the ‘M’ has been absent from the ‘TV’ since the turn of the century. The exception being songs used during the closing credits of shows like, “True Life: I’m a Werewolf”, or “16 and Pregnant with Two Fingers and a Toe Chewed Off by an Over-Aggressive Dingo”, or whatever other garbage they see fit to air these days.
We should have seen this coming 20 years ago, when they begin airing the social experiment that is The Real World, a reality show before reality shows were a thing. An interesting concept for it’s time; taking real people from a variety of backgrounds, have them live together to see how they adapt to each other’s cultures, and film the whole thing 24-hours a day. As time went on, MTV managed to screw that up too by selecting the most egocentric, arrogant individuals they can find (who all also happen to be really hot and good looking, because that’s an accurate representation of America) resulting in episodes looking more like WWE Smackdown, and about as “real”.
How their flagship show, the famed Video Music Awards, continues to exist on a network that never airs videos is beyond me. Someone please tell the last time MTV played any of the videos nominated. And I don’t mean MTV2, MTV Hits, or any of their other subchannels, I mean MTV, the mother ship, the one that started it all. My guess is that it’s been awhile. (Ironic side note: I accidentally typed a ‘t’ instead of a ‘p’ at the end of the word “ship” in the second to last sentence. In hindsight, it’s a more accurate description).
How they’ve not been sued for false advertisement (a misdemeanor in 44 states) by anyone yet is startling.
As I scoured the web looking up the history’s of these networks for the admitted purpose of calling them out, it was referenced on a few occasions that most of them have made conscious efforts over time to drop the true meaning of their acronymed names (what your excuse History?) in favor of just the letters due to the total left turns their programming has made over the years. That’s right, they are fully aware that what they air and who they say they are so completely different, they’re sticking to just letters for names hoping no one noticed. Which brings a few letters to my mind, namely W-T-F.