I have a confession: I watch a lot of TV. It takes a brave man to admit that. Go ahead, call me brave. I won’t stop you. You might think a dignified internet writer like myself can’t feel shame, guilt, or regret. Surprise! If I spend a Friday night watching a bunch of rabid Scandinavians dressed like cowboy-bikers peel the skin off each other, I start to think I’m wasting my life. That’s where the guilt comes in. I’m absolutely ashamed that I enjoy these shows, and the amount of time I spend watching this filth fills me with regret. I’m sure many of you can identify with this. How many of us have rushed into the bathroom and tried to shower off the last episode of Homeland? I can’t be the only one. Not many people in their right minds say things like, “I’m so glad I watched this smart, challenging show called Black Sails. I totally feel like a better person for doing that!”
That’s why I’ve compiled America’s best guilty pleasure TV shows of 2014. Enjoy.
5.) BLACK SAILS
Out there, just past your intellectual horizon, there is a community of hot, slutty lesbian pirate women imprisoned on a sparsely populated tropical island. Know what else is there? Ripped pirate dudes with dark secrets who practice treachery and manipulation. It’s all about the booty (PUN INTEDEND lol ha ha ha omg I am turning dumber). Oh, one more thing: Michael Bay is the executive producer, so you KNOW it’s going to be good. And yes, even though it’s the 1700’s, there are a Mama June ton of explosions in this show.
These are the five best characters on the show:
Dredlock Dave: He is Drexl From True Romance meets a JC Penny underwear model. This guy talks in a batman voice and goes on a vision quest that involves him paddling a rowboat across the ocean, only to find a weird island of Viking lumberjacks who live in tree houses. He challenges the leader to a duel, gets curb stomped to death, is buried underground, but tunnels his way back to the surface a day later because the only way to kill a shirtless man with dredlocks is via surfboard.
Mullet Mitch: The Jurassic Park scientists made this guy in a lab by harvesting the nocturnal emissions of steampunks. Because he has the mannerisms of a male figure skater, he is forced to rely on his wit to make end’s meat, but at times, he almost becomes self aware, sensing that there is a five star resort just a half mile away. He’s the only character who seems to realize that he is living in Michael Bay’s adolescent swashbuckler matrix.
Hot Lesbian Prostitute: She’s a sex slave who lives in a brothel and is forced to bang pirates. Then she gets captured by a group of particularly mean pirates and is forced to bang them in a shed. I guess it’s like having a job as a cook at Applebees and then having to be a cook at Dairy Queen. She’s likeable in that you root for her to escape the filthy, raping pirate wieners and find a nice girl.
Mr. Dirt: He is just is a crazy, garbage person who the pirates let live on the boat because they feel bad for him. He looks like a cross between Ben Franklin and a stray cat. He accepts all the pirate pity heaped in his general direction. I have no clue why he is in the show. At one point, the pirates take their boat out of the water. I forgot why, maybe just to see what it would look like. Anyway, the ship falls on Dirt’s leg and they have to cut it off with a meat clever. He howls like one of those men who live under the interstate.
Barry Potter: Barry Potter is a real life pirate nerd. He basically does the same job as a Long John Silver’s manager: He dresses like a pirate, organizes uneducated dipshits, and smells like grease. He has never had to pick up a sword. But one day the crew is short handed, so he is reluctantly forced into battle. You think he’s going to wus out, but he ends up biting a guy’s neck in half. Everybody suddenly appreciates how he harnessed the power of his repressed nerd rage, so they elect him as vice pirate president, shave his head, and tattoo a badass shark on his arm.
You want to watch a show about militarized white trash illiterates who believe in magic? Well, I guess you have a lot of choices these days: Duck Dynasty, Swamp People, Son’s of Anarchy, etc. But if you are looking for something a little more historically inaccurate, you might want to check out Vikings. Basically, you’d be better off watching He-Man if your motivation is to learn about Norse culture. But that doesn’t mean this show doesn’t have its merits. It is downright bloody and brutal;. It regularly deals in torture, baby killing, and human sacrifice, but its best moments are when these unwashed morons of the fjord double cross each other. It really does feel like I’m watching a more cerebral and theatrical version of professional wrestling.
Their entire culture is based off of just destroying people and stealing their shit, but when it happens to them, they act like a great injustice has been done. Watching these unwashed hicks operate is a frightening journey into the psyche of selfishness and entitlement. It’s like viewing a football game where you don’t care who wins or loses; you just want to see a good game. That’s Vikings. It doesn’t matter who dies. Everyone is a piece of shit. You just want the deaths to entertain you. There is one scene where the Viking leader is supposed to throw his spaghetti-legged disabled baby into a river or something, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t care if he did it or not. It’s that kind of show.
We regularly have shows where the main character is a nutjob, but Homeland goes a step further by having writers that are probably diagnosed lunatics. They all sit around in a windowless room listening to jazz and trading pills while thinking of brilliant ways for Carrie Mathison to murder people while she slowly fades in and out of sanity. What they have accomplished is pretty remarkable. Homeland is exactly like jazz: it’s improvised, unpredictable, and the general public considers it extremely annoying. The last season was particularly infuriating. It was like slowly watching your balls turn blue: It was terribly unsatisfying and painful, but you had to acknowledge that you were at least stimulated in the first place.
Midway through last season, Homeland was one of the most exciting things on television. It was a suspenseful espionage drama that was moving quickly and violently through the streets of Islamabad. It was everything we always wanted it to be. And then in the last two episodes, it crumbled to pieces. If Homeland is Jazz, then the band was hitting all the right notes until the end. When it came for the drum solo to wrap things up, the drummer pulled down his pants, sprayed diarrhea on his snare, and then jumped head first into a brick wall.
That said, you have to appreciate how Carrie Mathison is basically a voodoo doll that the batshit writers are using to work out their own issues. Hey, how about she contemplates drowning her baby? Now let’s make her fuck a teenager! Wait, I got it, how about she accidentally murders an entire wedding party! Maybe she secretly did it because she’s jealous she’ll never have a wedding of her own? Now let’s switch out her meds so she thinks her finger is a gun. Throw her in a Pakistani prison. Give her mommy issues. Kill her dad. Bring back her dead baby daddy while she’s hallucinating. There is no limit to how far Carrie Mathison will suffer or triumph. That is why I cannot turn away.
2.) MARCO POLO
Sigh. White people, haven’t we come far enough? Do we really need to inject a hero history honky into every corner of the globe? Kublai Khan’s kingdom is one of the most fascinating things antiquity has to offer, but we just can’t make a show about that without smearing some mayo on it. That’s where Marco comes in. In reality, Polo was an adventurous merchant who told tall tales and traveled the silk road. He may or may not have met the Khan once. But in this show, he saved Kublai’s life on multiple occasions, bangs a princess, invents the catapult, does karate, and becomes a hitman, private investigator, and military strategist in the span of ten episodes.
My fear is that people don’t realize how historically ludicrous all of this is. It’s going to lead to a lot of drunk morons in bars saying things like:
“The Khans were great and all, but they would have been nothing without Marco Polo. He saved their asses so many times it wasn’t even funny. I watched a 10 part Netflix documentary on him. If you ask me, Marco should have been Khan, but that’s just how it goes. The white man does all the work, and the minorities reap all the rewards. Nothing’s changed!”
Just another day in Marco Polo’s dojo
But if you can get past that, it’s really an enjoyable show. Naked karate babes doing flips and throwing chopsticks through dudes’ necks. A blind kung-fu dude who never runs into shit. A sexy tom-boy of the steppe who is really into wrastlin’. Ninjas. Acid trips. Josie from Twin Peaks. There is even an evil Chinese guy who breaks little girls’ feet and thinks he is part mantis. I feel like I’ve said enough. Just watch it. It’s great…but realize that it’s pure fiction.
1.) WALKING DEAD
It’s hard to fuckup a show about nomadic badasses impaling zombies throughout interior Georgia, but it almost happened. It took a while, but I think the show finally figured out its formula. The group crosses paths with another group. They fight to the death. Zombies are killed in between the groups killing each other. Sometimes the characters talk. Sometimes they kiss. Sometimes they pet the baby. Whatever. The main thing to remember is that there is a psycho that dwells in each and every one of us. There is a reason why the zombie trope has survived for decades. Most people want to kill a person without guilt. What’s better than shooting somebody in the face? Probably not having to feel guilty about it because they were already dead. This kind of mindless carnage satisfies the killer in every one of us. We like to pretend we’d be apocalyptic savages perfectly happy to exist on canned tomatoes as long as we get to stab someone in the head once in a while. Truth is, I don’t think we would, but it’s fun to pretend every Sunday night.
That’s why this show is the ultimate guilty pleasure. There are better developed characters in yogurt commercials. There are more interesting relationship dynamics inside of an ant farm. The only reason this show has lasted is because we love to entertain the thought of what we would do if faced with identical circumstances. I’d be the flat topped ginger with the hot girlfriend. My nerd buddy would be the Aspergered mulletman in the cargo shorts. My other dirty friend would be the sweaty crossbow man. My cool friend would be the leader cop to rule us all! We would make a great group. Friends forever! We’d feel like hardened manly men as we kill dead people in enjoyable, therapeutic ways. Shit, I can’t wait for the zombie apocalypse! I hope society breaks down so that everyone will be a loser, not just me!
See, that’s why there is even a show called Talking Dead. It’s a show about another show. It’s like a podcast about a podcast. You can see how popular this zombie thing has become in America. I mean, we all have guns, but we hardly ever get to shoot anyone. This show kind of alleviates some of that pent up aggression. In any case, it might be America’s guiltiest pleasure of all (except for war of course).