Quite possibly the most depressing show in the history of television, Intervention lets us watch as families of rock-bottom addicts give their loved one an ultimatum: either enter rehab or get cut off from the family. It's... best not to watch when in an emotionally vulnerable state. Or ever, really.
2. Celebrity Rehab/Sober House
Everything about it. It isn't just seeing these people you once saw as seemingly healthy and successful individuals at their absolute lowest, grappling with unforgivable addiction -- which is bad enough -- it's also their therapy sessions, in which they discuss in depth their childhood abuse, suicide attempts, breaking points, etc. Watching this show is like drowning slowly in the dismal end of the despair pool.
This is a new A&E show that follows people with anxiety disorders as they are subjected to some tough love and forced to face their issues. And they're usually unconventional issues. Besides the somewhat quotidian hoarder who was once featured, there was also once a woman who can't deal with the way her mother pronounces the letter "K" to the point where it's seriously affecting their relationship; a woman who fears looking in the mirror, specifically at night; a woman terrified of having bowel movements, ever; and so on and so forth. The show is two-fold depressing. One, because it's totally "Shoot the freak!" in carnival appeal, and two, because these people are so isolated by their weird problems that they just live in lonely cocoons of correcting their mothers' "K's" and never looking in the mirror.
4. 16 and Pregnant
This one just makes my heart cry. Sixteen-year-old girls who are struggling with figuring out how they're going to take care of a baby -- both emotionally and financially -- often losing all their friends and dealing with judgmental people's dirty looks in their small towns. It's just awful.
Weddings are stressful for everybody, even couples who get along fairly well and can afford how exorbitantly expensive they usually end up being. But this show follows couples that are usually pretty terrible for each other but are unwisely getting married anyway, as they try to claw and scream together an event that is usually way out of their price range. The bride always ends up just verbally destroying her fiancé, family and friends non-stop, going completely insane in order to achieve her clichéd dream wedding in a decrepit banquet hall, no matter what the cost to her personal relationships. Just makes you want to return that blender from the registry, doesn't it?
6. RW/RR Challenge
There's nothing sadder than never rising above being a drunken, combative fool on an MTV reality show at some point in your youth, so you just keep returning to the franchise to degrade yourself for cash, because you're broke, because you can't do any better, year after year after year. The RR/RW Challengers would be the high school Harries of the reality world, but at least the high school Harries of the actual world can afford to buy you beer without having to beat Dunbar at kickball first.
Usually pretty early on in each season it becomes clear that some people are on the show for real, and some people are on the show to exploit and manipulate other people's emotions in order to continue being on television. What Wes did to Jillian is just another milestone in this show's grand tradition of documenting someone using a lonely person to gain fame.
8. Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
As it turns out, hardly anyone who goes on this show is smarter than a fifth grader. This thing is a constant reminder of how, intellectually speaking, it's all been downhill since age 11, which is pretty depressing.
9. 18 Kids and Counting
There's having a different lifestyle and trying to protect your kids from the evils of the world, and then there's sheltering them to the point where they're exposed so little to the outside world they don't stand a chance at forming their own opinions about anything or -- gasp! -- choosing a different lifestyle as an adult. These kids are an irreversibly indoctrinated little army of Quiverfull drones, whether that's the right thing for them or not. And their dad is a creepy famewhore.
10. Toddlers and Tiaras
The most depressing thing about watching the egomaniac child abusers on this show is that they've convinced themselves, and continue to insist to the camera, that dressing their five-year-old daughters up like prostitution whores and living vicariously through the attention they receive from it is what the child really wants.
And as for Jon and Kate, well, I'm sick of talking about them, so I decided to give them the day off.
Reality shows that depress you? Have a good cry below.
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