The Specific, Squishy Satisfaction of Gross-out Reality TV


Reality TV is gross in many ways, but perhaps the most underrated subgenre is the gross-out series—shows about plastic surgery, medical emergencies, and other bodily horrors that pass, for the most part, as entertainment.

On TLC— a channel that is purportedly about “learning”—you can watch a kind dermatologist named Sandra Lee extract fountains of pus from a cyst or watch morbidly obese people try to turn their lives around in the span of a tightly-edited, hour-long television show. Flip over to E!, and watch people try to undo the damage they’ve done on Botched. Reality shows about medical procedures aren’t new, but they are only gaining in popularity.

On this week’s episode of Dirtcast, we sat down with Jezebel’s Rich Juzwiak to try and get to the gooey center of why it is we like these shows —and what makes them so fascinating. Is it exploitation? Curiosity? A desire to strengthen a weak stomach? Join us as we try to find out.

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