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A TV guide that tells you what’s really on

Is VH1 really The Last Resort? (Steve Wacksman for The Boston Globe) Is VH1 really The Last Resort?
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / November 15, 2009

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What if some of TV’s networks and cable channels promoted themselves as they really are? What if there were - hang on to your hats - truth in advertising? Their names, slogans, and mission descriptions might look something like this:

NBC

SDTV: Self-Destructive TV

We dig ourselves deeper into the hole!

At SDTV, we don’t fool around when it comes to ruining our network. By placing our future in the hands of personalities such as Howie Mandel, Donald Trump, and Jay Leno, we pretty much guarantee our own failure. Yeah, we’ve got some tart Thursday night comedies, but don’t let them stop you from thinking of us as the Biggest Loser.

PBS

Brand-free Broadcasting

No identity and loving it

Knowing who you are is overestimated, as far as we’re concerned. In a world where branding is essential, we prefer confusing vagueness. We’re a crazy stew of disparate elements, some of which - the documentaries and “Masterpiece’’ - are quite good but get lost in the random shuffle. What, you want us to develop and anchor a few more popular signature series? That would be too easy for us.

Bravo

GLBTv

For Grace and her favorite Will

Need some fabulous fashion advice? Want a lesson in trendy lingo? We know absolutely everything about how to do clothes, real estate, and hair with style. Plus, we have Kathy Griffin. Let us be your gay best friend.

CNN

Cable Noose Network

If it’s on the run, we’ll chase it

We love to throw a visual maze of charts, knobs, and tickers in your face, to give you a headache. We love to creep you out with holograms and Larry King. And we love to waste your time with non-news news. CNN: We love to overplay minuscule stories to make you despise the 24-hour news cycle.

FX

DepraviTV

We go there and then some

Moral uplift? It’s overrated. From “The Shield’’ and “Nip/Tuck’’ to “Sons of Anarchy’’ and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’’ we’re the best at offering as little redemption and political correctness as possible. We’re tough enough to show you the pits of human nature because we know you’ll come back for more.

Fox News

Fox “News’’

Who cares if it’s true?

In our shop, we believe that too much value is placed on facts. We’d rather just go after anything that moves in that unbalanced, unfair, democratic, liberal, commie kind of way. You know what we mean. If you like screeds, we’ll be there for you.

truTV

Courting Disaster Channel

We heart your misfortune

Yes, we long for the days of the O.J. Simpson trial and the Tonya Harding scandal. Sniff, sniff. But these are the good old days, too, and we’ve got plenty of smoking guns and personal nightmares to look into. From tornado damage to speeding tickets, we’re poised for schadenfreudian action.

MTV

EMPTYV

Music shmusic

We’d rather serve up a slew of forgettable shows about superficial, wealthy, anomic teens than do anything creative. Seriously, like why not? I mean, we don’t know what else to do with ourselves. A show like “Glee’’? Not our bag. Too good.

TLC

Carny TV

Step right up folks

If you have a third leg, no legs but hands coming out of your nose, or a belly bump that you think is just gas but is really a baby, then you belong in our tent. Multiple births? Can’t get enough of them. We know that everyone wants to look on in horror/pleasure. Watching Carny TV, the country learned about Jon and Kate Gosselin. You’re welcome, America.

VH1

Last Resort

When all else fails

We think of ourselves as a celebrity pawn shop. When down-and-out F-list celebrities bring us their dignity, we take it in exchange for a trashy series such as “My Antonio’’ or “Brooke Knows Best.’’ Are you a semi-semi-famous person who did time in jail or rehab? Is your career going nowhere? Are you a Baldwin? Have we got an offer for you.

HGTV

BSTV: The Buy Stuff Channel

With the right kitchen, your life will be perfect

We love pretty things, and we want you to love them, too. And now that we’re in a recession, we still love pretty things and want you to love them, too - even if only for fantasy’s sake. Come to the land of home improvement, where we talk brass tacks about brass tacks and dream of a beautifully upholstered future.

A&E

PathologyNet

The more human desperation, the better

As the home of troubling shows such as “Intervention,’’ “Obsession,’’ and “Hoarders,’’ we love watching people in the their most difficult psychological states. If you’re on the run from the law, wanted for murder, hitting the bottom of your addiction, or just on the verge of falling apart, we’ll love you, we promise. Just let us show your illness to the world.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog .

A&E is more like PathologyNet (Steve Wacksman for The Boston Globe) A&E is more like PathologyNet
HGTV, or BSTV: The Buy Stuff Channel (Steve Wacksman for The Boston Globe) HGTV, or BSTV: The Buy Stuff Channel

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