My idea of fun: trash TV

Joesph Cristo

Trashy television shows aren’t exactly well-defined. Some people might think about reality shows or “cooking” shows (some are just Guy Fieri eating across the Eastern seaboard). What usually comes to mind for me are shows that aren’t really completely awful. Yes, they feature acting that will make you cringe and yes, the plots are thin and uninspired.

But they have something infinitely more important when binge-watching is your primary mode of television consumption, and that’s heart.

Or they have a bunch of young beautiful people creating melodramatic situations out of benign non-events. Either way, they’re endlessly watchable.

Here are some of my favorite examples of the “art” form that is trash TV.


The OC


My personal favorite on the list (because I just started it). Absolutely complete trash. The acting is horrible, the situations are unbelievable, everyone smolders with a cheesy intensity. That being said, something about the cliche plot (a rich, upper-crust beauty falls for a trailer-park bad boy) is instantly likeable and enthralling. Plus Adam Brody as Seth is pretty funny. As the show goes on the scripts get better, but so far the plot has been easy to predict. Plus, like all trash TV shows, the theme song is incredibly catchy and nostalgic.


Dawson’s Creek


This TV show centers around Dawson and his group of friends who are about to go through the hardest life event possible: high school. Everyone but James Van Der Beek is actually really talented. Michelle Williams has gone on to a very successful movie career, Joshua Jackson is in the excellent new show “The Affair”, and Katie Holmes put up with Tom Cruise. This TV show made the WB popular for a brief period. It became the centerpiece on the WB’s trash TV crown.




After some cursory googling, it looks like I could pick one of four 90210 series to recommend. I’ve only seen the original and the terrible reboot a few years back. When I was a kid, my cousin used to put on “90210” and watch it for hours and hours. It’s one of the key milestones in the trash TV art form. It inspired shows like “The OC” to take on weighty topics like what it’s like to be rich in California. There are some serious plot points which in the ‘90s may have been controversial, but the way they are handled look really goofy in the year 2016.


One Tree Hill



My favorite trash TV show when I was a kid. Me and my sister used to binge watch this show after school. Weirdly, I didn’t know that it continued all the way to 2013, so I can’t recommend the later seasons. That being said, the first four seasons center on another group of friends in high school. Chad Michael Murray is there in all of his early 2000s bad facial hair glory. Apparently he leaves after the sixth season, so don’t watch any further. Also, the theme song is Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be”. My favorite.