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Despite ABC’s best efforts, The Bachelor isn’t on forever. Like a hungry panther I’m always on the hunt for my next meal. In this case meal=delightfully trashy unscripted television gold. Unlike a hungry panther, I’m all about sharing these tasty nuggets with you.

We’re in the Golden Age of reality television. From inmates looking for love, to housewives looking for inmates, there’s something to please even the most discerning, voyeuristic palate. With this embarrassment of riches, your DVR might be missing a few gems. Here are 4 great reality shows you should be watching.

Welcome to Plathville (TLC): Plathville, population: eleven very blonde family members who choose to live like they’re inside of a Fear Factor challenge. Limited technology, no soda pop, no freakin’ idea who Spider-Man is, the Plaths are a strange, smiling family who could have been born from the collective imaginations of Louise May Alcott and Stephen King. Ma and Pa Plath prefer to live off the grid, and their nine kids, who didn’t have a choice, seem to dig walking barefoot on their fifty-five acre property and hoping the cows escape so they’ll have fun stories to share at suppertime. When they turn nineteen, they get to marry other smiling, blonde people and make them give up footwear in exchange for farm life. I guess without a television they’ll never know how oddly endearing and utterly fascinating they are.

Is Plathville where the descendants of Sylvia Plath live? Sigh…I wish.
Photo: TLC

Cheerleader Generation (Lifetime): The only cheers I typically enjoy involve Prosecco, but that was before I discovered the world of competitive cheerleading. Professional pom-poming is serious business in the South and it’s more entertaining than a pop-up tuck dismount! This show follows two cheerleading squads—one from a Kentucky high school and one from Ole Miss—on their take-no-prisoners quest for national glory. The generational part comes from the respective head coaches. One’s a mother and coaching legend. The other is her daughter and former National’s winner. Come for the teen angst and aerial somersaults, stay for the I’m not mad, I’m really *#%@ing pissed pep talks. This show’s got spirit, yes it does!

That better goddamn be someone else’s leg she’s holding up there!
© Houston Cofield / A+E Networks

Brides, Grooms, Emergency Rooms (TLC): Sometimes I feel guilty because our wedding photographer forgot to take pictures of my husband’s family and then I remember the couple who had to evacuate their idyllic outdoor wedding venue mid-vow because a wildfire was about to engulf them. No one’s BIG DAY goes off without a hitch, but the newlyweds on this show take the cake and shove it into the face of seventeen months of prenuptial planning. We’re talking absolute horrors like honeymooners getting carjacked at gunpoint, brides going into anaphylactic shock from their bouquets, and 130 guests succumbing to a raging stomach bug and fighting Hunger Games-style over the only three restrooms within twenty miles. Needless to say, the hotel had a lot of laundry the next day.

Dude, there are Sleestaks coming out of the lake! F*ck the deposit on this place and lets go!
Photo: TLC

Psychic Kids (A&E): You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll have to buy all new Christmas decorations because you’ll never go near your crawlspaces again. Psychic Kids is sometimes terrifying, often heartbreaking, and always creepy as it follows real-life, intuitive adults who mentor children just discovering they are conduits for angry, dead people. Remember how scared you were to tell your parents you accidentally left your coat on the bus? Imagine what it’s like to admit you inadvertently opened a portal to the Other Side and let a grumpy spirit take residence in the bathroom mirror? With spiritual and emotional guidance, the kids learn to stop being afraid of ghosts and use their power for good. Guess who’s never failing a math test again?

Wait, wait, wait– there are how many ghosts standing behind me?
Photo: A&E

Shelly Mazzanoble

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