Terrible Things That Are Actually Secretly Awesome

Pop culture is full of terrible things.

All of which have been combined here for your viewing pleasure.

The various entertainment industries of the world are just that: industries. They exist to make money. The artistic advancement of mankind is all well and fine, but at the end of the day, people care more about paying their rent and buying their gold-plated yachts than they do about creating artistically integral masterpieces for future generations to enjoy. To be successful, you've got to capture as much interest as possible, and to capture the interest of millions, you have to appeal to the least common denominator. 

Above: The least common denominator.

 And so our TV stations and iPods are bombarded with trash, junk, more trash, garbage, Teen Mom and crap. But it's not all bad. If you take a break from mourning the loss of Breaking Bad and Googling Game of Thrones spoilers, you might find some hidden gems in the sewer of pop culture. Gems like:


For those of you who spent 2009 in a coma, Glee is what happens when television producers vomit every known modern social issue onto a stack of Kidz Bop CDs and pay acclaimed Broadway actors to help them do it. In the five years that the show has been on the air, it has gone from a quirky re-imagining of Fame to a veritable musical hot-dog eating contest of teen angst and hastily shat-out music mash-ups. If you flip on the news one night and see a story about a heroine-addicted transvestite getting into a head-on collision with a minivan full of paraplegic dwarfs on her way to audition for Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, you can bet that somewhere out there, a Glee writer is watching, frantically masturbating with one hand and penning an episode with the other. I went to a high school that openly encouraged its students to partake in half-naked kiddie pool oatmeal wrestling for the amusement of the students and staff, but in comparison to McKinley High, I might as well have attended a Victorian-era finishing school.

Remember that time your high school teacher dressed you in a bondage angel costume and made you sing while your underage classmates writhed around in cages and steam baths?

And that's what makes Glee so great. Watching the producers try to keep the show on the air is like watching a five-year-long train accident in slow motion; you want to look away, but you just can't. Glee has its own law of probability: anything that can happen (and can be slipped past the censors) will eventually happen. They've got everything you could ever ask for in a high school themed show. Teen pregnancy? Check. Teen marriage? Yep. Heinously uncomfortable depictions of people of various ages losing their virginity? Brace yourself, they've got it in spades. A teenager mentally succumbing to the pressures of leading a competitive show choir by entering into an unhealthy relationship with a puppet? Girl, please. 

Yeah. That happened.

The entire show is a glorious frenzy of impossibly strange characters and increasingly half-baked subplots that attempt to cover the entire spectrum of the youth experience in one-hour celebrations of short attention spans. If you started a letter writing campaign to the show claiming that you were absolutely appalled by their failure to recognize the presence of musically gifted albinos in American high schools, I'm almost certain that they'd bring out a perfectly choreographed troupe of emotionally stunted teenage albinos, just to make sure you keep watching. At its current pace, the show is just going to continue to pile on characters and conflicts and plots and relationships and breakups and songs and defeats and wins and competitions and rivalries and friendships and dance routines until it implodes in on itself like a proverbial dying star. 


If you gave me a fast food dumpster, a feral raccoon and unlimited access to the used mattresses of homeless people, I still couldn't devise a way to be as repulsive as Ke$ha. Every time she shows up in front of a camera, she's frantically slathering herself with miscellaneous filth like she's singlehandedly trying to breed smallpox back into existence. She makes so many references to doing drugs that it's impossible for her to tell if the little crawling sensation she constantly feels is a hallucination or a particularly aggressive infestation of body lice. Her music is mostly a combination of dial-up internet tones and white-girl rapping that would make Tupac Shakur want to dig himself out of his grave and die all over again. Any attempts to get a handle on Ke$ha have been miserable failures, as she appears to repel both water and sense.

Looking this dirty in a bathtub is actually a life skill.

Which is exactly why Ke$ha is my spirit animal. She's a genius, in both the "got an almost-perfect score on her SATs" sense and the "discovered the cheat codes to the music industry" sense. It's pretty obvious that Ke$ha gives exactly no fucks, and most importantly, she's fully aware that at this point in her career, giving a fuck is no longer a requirement. She can do literally anything she wants to. She can metal-plate the side of her head, smear glitter on her crotch and teach her six-year-old fans eighteen new euphemisms for 'vagina' because she knows the world will actually reward her for this behavior. She once wrote a half-joking post on Facebook, asking fans to mail her human teeth, and they did. As long as she stays on this side of the line between "functional human" and "coke whore", she gets to live a dream life where she earns millions of dollars for purposely experimenting with the limits of what the public will buy. You and I can only aspire to that kind of unbridled, free-range public lunacy.

Admit it. You have no idea what's going on here, but you want to be there.

And make no mistake, Ke$ha's career is her own doing; she's not a skinny blonde puppet dancing on the strings of a desperate record executive. Ke$ha learned songwriting at her mother's knee, and she's personally penned everything that shows up on her albums, which is more than a vast majority of current recording artists can claim. I've been to a Ke$ha concert - because my admiration of this woman is 100% genuine - and I'm delighted to report that it was a two-hour spectacle of body paint, stolen pants and backup dancers in penis costumes. There's no way that Ke$ha's alleged hard-partying lifestyle of brushing with whiskey and peeing in sinks is anything more than a brilliantly calculated act; in an age where even ordinary people have their entire lives documented, Ke$ha has never had even so much as a parking ticket come to light. She leads a relatively tame, legal private life while convincing millions that she spends her weeknights humping barnyard animals and mainlining Jack Daniels, just because she can. Which is awesome.


If you've never been bored and channel surfing at two in the morning, let's do a quick run-down of what Maury is all about. The half-fossilized Maury Povich runs a talk show on which the coffee grounds of humanity come to air their dirty laundry and foist their mystery offspring on the near-strangers they once bumped uglies with. Like The Jerry Springer Show, Maury is the Olympics of human debauchery, featuring events like "confessing to infidelity", "revealing dubious parentage", "reigning in hostile teenagers" and "broadcasting incredibly toxic relationships". The thing that really sets Maury apart, however, is the use of DNA tests. Again and again, women get up in front of gigantic photos of their infants and the alleged fathers and dazzle America with their profound misunderstanding of how genetics works. They point out the fact that both individuals have nostrils, chins, and openings in their faces for eating food, proclaim themselves to be roughly 10000% sure of paternity, and take a seat to await the results of the DNA test. If Watson and Crick had known that their groundbreaking discovery was going to be used like this, they'd have thrown their Nobel prizes into the ocean.

Seeking out more fine individuals to appear on the show.

Maury is the closest that modern society has ever come to putting people in a zoo. Somehow or other, the producers seek out the absolute dregs of humanity, toss them aside, and track down people with even worse problems to come and discuss their personal issues in the most public venue possible. If you are ever having a particularly bad week, Maury is the best pick-me-up you could hope for. Feeling stressed about an exam? This women has a pathological fear of chickens! Got into a car accident? This man is leaving his wife for a gay prostitute! Accidentally triggered the robot uprising? This women can name fifteen potential candidates for her son's father, and the real father still isn't among them. The whole show is a gigantic, decades-long case study on the scope of human depravity, with just enough shouting and preview clips to keep you from thinking about pesky things like "the effects of poverty" and "lack of equal access to opportunity" and getting too sad.

Child exploitation, or potential subject of a Master's thesis? You decide!

The great thing about the show is that there seems to be no end to the rabbit hole of uneducated people with complicated love lives. One year, they'll parade around some sexually active 16-year-olds. Then they'll find sixteen-year-olds with children. Then fifteen-year-olds. Eventually, they end up marching out a group of sexually active, bisexual, drug-addicted thirteen-year-old dropouts with full-fledged prostitution careers who answer to real-life pimps. At any point in time, they are one bearded lady away from being technically classified as a circus sideshow act. If you're clever enough to know what the word "Schadenfreude" means, you probably think you're far too sophisticated to trifle with trashy cable television. Trust me, my friend - you are not. No one is ever too good for Maury

Honey Boo Boo

Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson is a former child beauty pageant contestant and current star of the reality spectacle "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo", and I'm not going to insult her because seriously, people, she's 8 years old. I have limits. The show takes place somewhere so far into the asscrack of the Deep South that all of the show's cast require subtitles to be understood, and the only acceptable forms of locomotion appear to be tractor or truck. The episodes mostly revolve around the daily life of the Thompson family, which consists of Honey Boo Boo, her three half-sisters, her infant niece, her toothless father, and a giant talking thumb.

You knew who I was referring to.

Whenever Honey Boo Boo is mentioned, it's usually accompanied by a reference to some sort of cultural apocalypse. Here's a word of advice: if you've ever heard Honey Boo Boo hailed as a sign of the End of Days, I can guarantee you that the person talking has never actually sat through an episode. The Thompsons have a better family life than half of the people reading this - there's no abuse, no serious dysfunction, no use of drugs or alcohol, not a lot of fighting, and everyone in the house seems pretty darn content. There is absolutely no sex, nudity, blasphemy, racism, sexism, lewdness or indecency. Honey Boo Boo's parents are happily together, and 'Sugar Bear' raises the other three girls as his own with no complaints. When the worst things you can say about Mama June is that she uses a lot of coupons and lets her children drink caffeinated beverages, you had best step away from your own glass house before you start picking up stones. She puts every cent the family earns from the show into trust funds for her children, and continues to live off the family's regular income. In fact, she's such an effective parent, most casual viewers of the show have no idea she's blind.

And now you feel bad for laughing at the thumb joke.

But what makes Honey Boo Boo awesome isn't its surprising adherence to traditional family values. It's the fact that everything the Thompson family touches turns to weird. Mama June, as mentioned, is legally blind due to untreated childhood cataracts, and has unspecified foot problems from an also-unspecified forklift accident. Pumpkin, the eccentric middle child of the family, has "never been quite right" after being electrocuted by lightning while playing a video game. Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson is a human medical textbook, having suffered from an ATV accident, a diabetic episode, pancreatitis and an undiagnosable neurological condition in the course of less than a year. They can't even reproduce without things going awry - Baby Kaitlin, Honey Boo Boo's niece, was born with an extra thumb. These aren't things the producers can stage to drum up interest in the show; this family apparently spends their weekends desecrating Indian burial grounds, because they have some of the worst luck that any family could have, and it shows no signs of slowing down. 

These are my favourite guilty pleasures - what are yours? Tell me about the terrible things you think are awesome in the comments.

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