Though they’ve had major hits like the reality series 90 Day Fiancé and Little People, Big World, The Learning Channel has, on occasion, delved into some truly strange territory. From child pageant stars growing up in rural Georgia to real estate agents brokering homes for nudists, there’s seemingly no niche the network is unwilling to explore.
While some series were canceled as a result of fan backlash, others continued to captivate for several seasons. It seems there’s something undeniably compelling about delving into the atypical lives of seemingly-standard citizens.
While the act of saving money through diligent coupon use doesn’t seem as if it would make for a particularly engaging reality TV series, TLC’s Extreme Couponing added the network’s staple dramatic spin to transform the mundane into the exceptional.
From teenagers who clip coupons in class to dedicated shoppers who coupon so thoroughly that the stores in which they shop owe them money when it’s all said and done, Extreme Couponing introduced many to a world of bargain-hunting many believed to be impossible.
A spin-off of TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo starred the titular child pageant star along with her mother Mama June Shannon and her father Mike Thompson. The show focused on the oddball family’s life in rural Georgia and captivated America as no other TLC series had at the time.
Though the show was canceled due to scandal in 2014, it resurfaced in 2017 when TLC debuted a collection of four previously-unaired episodes. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo may be nearly forgotten today, but it left quite a mark on the public consciousness in the early 2010s.
Debuted in 2010, Hoarding: Buried Alive cast a light on the oft-overlooked problem of hoarding. With mounds of trash from floor to ceiling, the homes of some of the series’ subjects were as hazardous as they were tragic.
RELATED: Where Are A&E’s Hoarders Now?
While the show, which aired for five seasons, placed a major emphasis on the disgusting dwellings of its participants, it also included a human element by reminding viewers that hoarding was the byproduct of mental illness and not the result of simple laziness. It also showcased the fact that extreme hoarding could tear families apart and even be fatal in certain circumstances.
Perhaps one of the TLC’s most forgettable series, D.U.I. was a production in the same vein as COPS or Live PD in which television crews chronicled the arrests and prosecutions of Oklahoma residents caught driving while intoxicated. Oklahoma is notorious for its stringent D.U.I. laws, and the series highlighted the stresses and consequences of those working their way through the court system after being arrested.
The authenticity of the series frequently came into question during the premiere of its singular season, but, real or fake, the overall message about the terrible effects imparted by the crime rang loud and true.
As the name implies, TLC’s Breaking Amish shone a spotlight on teens who grew up in strict religious communities who were eager to leave their conservative lifestyles behind. Focusing on rural groups from Pennsylvania and Ohio, the TLC chronicled the journies of wary Amish and ex-Amish beginning to find their ways outside of their humble upbringings.
Though the show was fraught with controversy regarding the authenticity of its portrayal of the Amish, it was nonetheless an interesting exploration of those eager to experience the wider world after years spent living modestly, and the TLC series made an eventual comeback in the form of 2014’s Return To Amish.
One of the more notorious TLC productions, Extreme Cheapskates highlighted the lives of individuals eager to do anything to save even seemingly-insubstantial amounts of money. From a family who washed dishes in the same water in which they bathed to a man known to cook meals using the heat from his car’s engine, the series placed in the spotlight those willing to go to extreme lengths to save even a few dollars.
Strangely, the show rarely focused on impoverished persons and adopted more of a My Strange Addiction approach to penny-pinching. Though it only lasted three seasons, it was one of the network’s most memorable shows.
House-hunting shows are incredibly popular, and, when combined with feuding couples or unexpected expenses, the ups-and-downs of the housing market can make for some surprisingly exciting TV. However, in 2013, TLC decided to take things a step further by debuting a series that focused on the house-hunting experiences of nudist couples.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between real estate and nudity, and the most entertaining aspect of Buying Naked may have been the unique ways in which the show’s crew worked to censor its bare participants. It was a unique endeavor, though one that ultimately didn’t last for more than a single season.
Another show closely related to My Strange Addiction, Freaky Eaters was a program that highlighted individuals struggling to absolve themselves of irregular eating habits. From a man who had hoarded more than 100 gallons of maple syrup in his home to a woman who habitually drank up to 30 cans of soda per day, Freaky Eaters attempted to portray tales of illness and rehabilitation.
Airing for two seasons, the series worked as something of a blueprint for many of the network’s subsequent shows, and it in some ways worked to draw attention to those struggling with undiscussed eating disorders.
Although the title is undeniably attention-grabbing, My Teen Is Pregnant And So Am I stands among TLC’s most detested shows. Only airing for a single season in 2012, the series earned a 4.3 out of 10 on IMDb and seems to have inspired the ire of many TLC fans.
My Teen Is Pregnant And So Am I could, in a certain light, be seen as a study of oft-undocumented familial relationships, but it often serves to exploit the drama of tense and potentially embarrassing situations. Ultimately, it was one of TLC’s strangest shows.
Airing six seasons over five years, My Strange Addiction is one of TLC’s longest-running and most notorious series. Essentially a collection of docu-drama explorations into the lives of persons with atypical habits, My Strange Addiction helped to generate conversation about the often-ignored aspects of mental illness.
Showcasing everything from a woman who habitually ate bars of soap to a woman addicted to sniffing gasoline, My Strange Addiction helped to normalize the idea that issues may not always manifest in conventional forms. Though the subject matter was controversial at times, My Strange Addiction was, as the name might imply, undoubtedly one of TLC’s strangest hits.
NEXT: 10 Most Addicting Reality Shows About Real-Life People (That Aren’t On TLC)