TLC's full name, The Learning Channel, might sound misleading. The name may conjure up a giant showcase of eighth-grade science documentaries. But make no mistake - TLC puts a different spin on their Learning Channel title. Covering everything from relationships, food, and home décor, the coolly abbreviated TLC has your lifestyle-learning needs covered. Check out our "Best Of" list to see what's behind the TLC buzz:
It's a show that helped put the modern TLC on the map. Two teams swap rooms and get two days and a $1,000 to redecorate each other's spaces (with the help of a professional designer and carpenter, of course). Admittedly, the show went through a dark period between 2005 and 2007 after parting ways with popular host Paige Davis. Going to a "hostless format," producers replaced Paige with extra captions and bad elevator music. But in 2008, sanity returned (along with Paige), and the show has since regained some of its former sparkle. It's not just the "redecorating on a budget" theme that makes "Trading Spaces" what it is. The human drama (with questions like, "Will the other team like the hideous room their friends have decorated?") makes the show juicy good fun.
"Jon & Kate Plus 8
Say it with us -"Eight kids?!" This kind of programming was made to occupy watercooler chats. Although the show originally aired on the Discovery Health channel, it was eventually moved to TLC where it's been a ratings winner ever since. When Jon and Kate decided to have children, they sadly realized that they could not conceive. So they turned to fertility treatments. In the end, the couple ended up with eight adorable tots (between their twins and sextuplets). And you've probably already guessed-- the show's a giant swirl of familial love and total chaos. Every outing, every meal, and every normal family activity can turn to mayhem when you're dealing with two young kids and six toddlers. Jon and Kate occasionally go a little cuckoo from stress. Still, with caring for that many itty bitty kiddos 24/7, who could blame them?
"Little People, Big World
All in all, the Roloffs are your average American family: they run a farm near Portland, Oregon, enjoy time together, and experience many of the expected trials and tribulations of life. The unique angle? Matt, Amy, and one of their sons, Zach, are little people. Many routine experiences that average-height folks would take for granted are complicated in the Roloff family. But the big world cannot keep them from living to the fullest! Matt and Amy also have three average-height children, Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob. Whether working through financial concerns, playing sports, or dealing with school, the Roloffs show that they are just another loving, hardworking American family, dealing with everyday issues in a less common way.
"What Not to Wear
The show's basic formula is a person's friends and loved ones tell her that she has embarrassingly bad fashion sense. Then in breezes fashion gurus Stacy London and Clinton Kelly! Stacy and Clinton teach the couture-inept woman how to shop for clothes that will compliment her body, personality, and lifestyle. Makeover participants get $5,000 and two days in New York City to revamp their wardrobes (plus get new haircuts and makeup regimes to boot). Sure, Stacy and Clinton can be a little harsh in dishing out the pre-makeover insults, but their post-makeover cooing makes everything seem okay in the end. (And hey, the makeover subject can take comfort in all her expensive new clothes and free trip to the Big Apple, right?) The real question is: Does she actually stay friends with the people who insulted her original style by nominating her for the show?
"Take Home Chef
Hunky Aussie chef Curtis Stone impishly skulks around grocery store aisles, looking for women who are helpless in the kitchen. Once he finds a gal who will be cooking for someone special that evening, he plans a yummy meal that they can cook together. Curtis and his new female cohort purchase the menu (as he learns about her tastes - and flirts innocently). Then they head back to her place to prepare the knock-your-socks-off-good dinner. The show's success has a lot to do with the charisma and likeability of Mr. Stone himself, although the delish food and recipes don't hurt. To say the least, the "Take Home Chef" isn't your mom's old-school TV cooking personality.
So are you a TLC-aholic? What's your favorite TLC show? Give your favorite shows and stars a shout-out in the comment box below.
Story by Chelsea Fogleman
Starpulse contributing writer