I’ve already mentioned in the past that I don’t watch a ton of TV outside of sports. The only shows that I watch religiously are Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and now Homeland, but there are plenty of “guilty pleasure” shows that if I see on, I will generally end up watching.
My first one of these is “Chopped” on the Food Network. I love the ludicrous premise: having to make a main course out of beef hoof, kimchi, cinnamon candies, and fermented goat’s milk or some other horrid combination. I love the shittalking/faux comradery between the chefs that are “competing” and how it’s always filmed as if all the contestants finish their dishes with literally .5 seconds to go. I love the judges and how if they start out with mostly positives about a dish you just know one of them is going to finish off with a scathing critique.
I especially like the judge named Scott something that is apparently Italian and will say that someone’s entire dish is inedible because they undercooked their pasta by exactly 23.5 seconds. I like Ted Allen’s slightly smarmy hosting and commentary, and how the judges will always say they have made a decision without it being shown exactly how they come to it: I’m not sure if they just cut that part out or if they have a secret voting machine under the table. I also love/hate the way that they will ALWAYS go to commercial right before the big reveal as to whose dish is on the “chopping block”.
I like the generic ingredients that just have whatever it is labeled on the jar or container, like in the 80s when people in movies would drink beer labeled “Beer”. I’ve also been a Top Chef fan in the past so I guess I have a soft spot for cooking competitions. I’ll even watch Iron Chef America on occasion. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a new “Chopped”, but luckily the Food Network shows them pretty regularly late at night.
My next late night guilty pleasure show is not even on anymore and hasn’t been for a few years, but is fairly common in syndication: “Cold Case”. I really can’t explain why I like this show as it’s nothing particularly special in terms of a cop procedural, but for whatever reason if I see it’s on at 2am and I can’t sleep, I’m all over it. I like the characters on it and the overall premise, and it really can keep you guessing until the end in a good episode. I also like the way they integrate songs from whatever period the current case is set into the show.
Along the same lines, although for some reason TNT doesn’t seem to show it nearly as often, I’ve been a late night consumer of “Law and Order” for years. I can probably name every actor that’s been a major character on the show in it’s 20 something seasons, and have my favorites at each place. I still get sad when I see an episode with Jerry Orbach on it since he died.
I love both Michael Moriarity and Sam Waterston as the ADAs, I still miss Chris Noth as one of the two cops, and I can still remember the episode where the blonde lawyer sidekick got fired and for some reason they decided to reveal she was a lesbian for the first time. I did always wonder how a southern good ol’ boy like Fred Thompson would ever get elected DA of New York City, but it’s still a great show to have on while you’re doing something else.
My last one I’m a bit embarrassed to admit to and I think I watch partly because I’ve been Stockholm Syndromed into it by the fact that it’s always on past 1am when nothing else is. I call it “48 Dateline Hours”. For some reason it seems there is always a “48 Hours” or “Dateline” on at all hours of the night, and if I happen to see the beginning of one, I’ll generally find myself sticking around to find out who did it and what happened to them. Granted I’m usually playing a game on my ipad or doing something else at the same time, but I still manage to get sucked in more often than I’d like to admit.
So those are my late night guilty pleasures. I’d love to hear some other admissions.