Anyone who watches TLC knows that it stopped being "the learning channel" years ago. But with its current lineup of mostly reality TV families that range from Counting On to Sister Wives, is it really all that surprising that the network finds itself in the middle of so many scandals?
From sex scandals involving the Duggars to the recent controversy in Little People, Big World involving Audrey Roloff, here's your definite ranking of the biggest scandals to rock the channel.
MUST SEE: Check out 8 Times the Duggars Broke the Family Rules!
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In 2009, America fell in love with "Cake Boss," Italian-American baker Buddy Valastro who ran a cake shop in New Jersey with his colorful cast of eccentric family members. But in 2014, he revealed a different side of himself when he was arrested for driving under the influence in New York. According to TMZ, during his arrest he allegedly shouted, "You can't arrest me, I'm the Cake Boss!" Since the scandal, Buddy tweeted an apology to his fans, explaining that he thought he was "fine to drive, but I wasn’t."
(Photo Credit: TLC)
The show, which followed the everyday lives of a Lebanese-American family in Michigan, was a hit amongst critics who praised TLC for showing an honest portrayal of Muslim life. Unfortunately, the biggest controversy with the show was that it existed at all. A whopping 68 sponsors, including Lowe's and Kayak.com, pulled their commercials from the show. In response, celebrities like Russell Brand and Mia Farrow encouraged their Twitter followers to boycott companies who pulled their sponsorship. In the end, the show was canceled after one season due to low ratings.
They were America's favorite family back in 2007 as viewers were invited inside Jon Gosselin and Kate Gosselin's home and watched them as they took care of their eight children. However, even fans of the show knew trouble was brewing with the way Jon looked detached and annoyed in interviews and Kate was always snippy and controlling. In the end, watchers of the show were right when the couple announced their 2009 split on the show. What then followed were weeks of Jon's questionable behavior, from hooking up with a woman who was almost a decade younger than him, to renting a condo in New York City away from his children.
It was a huge tabloid uproar at the time, but once the show returned to TV under its new name, Kate Plus 8, it was less popular with viewers.
After the hoopla of Jon and Kate's divorce, in 2016, Jon slammed TLC with a $5 million lawsuit claiming the network ruined his reputation and sabotaged his career by preventing him from seeking work at other outlets. The suit is actually a countersuit to the one TLC filed against him for breach of contract. “Their behavior has caused Jon great anguish and it has caused him financial losses,” his attorney, Mark Heller said at the time. To be continued?
The show, which featured six Amish people who were choosing to live in the "real" world for the first time, got into hot water when viewers learned the show was mostly fabricated. All the cast featured on the show had already left the Amish community, and thus, were already living in the "real" world. Also, two cast members, who said they "just met" on the show, turned out to actually be married in real life — and they had a child, too!
Despite the mountain of inconsistencies, the show was renewed and later ignited two spin-offs.
The Roloffs, the family stars of the 10-year running show, don't typically find themselves in many scandals, with the exception of Matt Roloff's 2003 DUI. However, in 2017, youngest son Jacob Roloff slammed the show, calling it "inherently fake" and accused his parents of forcing him to film scenes against his will.
On top of that, Audrey, who married into the cast when she wed Jeremy Roloff, ignited backlash from fans when she admitted to "not agreeing" with same-sex couples.
“We are not claiming to be a resource for same-sex marriages," she wrote in a now deleted comment. "It is not something we agree with…For us, we are FOR opposite-sex marriages that are striving to give more than average to their marriages."
Needless to say, but viewers were not happy. However, her remarks didn't influence ratings for the show.
The lovable (although immensely trashy) Georgia family was a hit when it first premiered in 2012. The show followed child beauty pageant star Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her mother, "Mama" June Shannon. However, in 2014 the show was canceled when it was revealed that June was dating Mark McDaniel, a registered sex offender. To make matters worse, her oldest daughter, Anna Marie Cardwell, claimed the man was the same one who molested her when she was 8 years old. June received an angry backlash from fans who accused her of choosing her boyfriend over her daughter.
The show that chronicled the lives of child beauty pageant stars was already controversial when it first premiered in 2008. However, one episode that showed a three-year-old dressed like a hooker from Pretty Woman drew the most ire.
"When are we going to stop sexualizing our children?" Sherri Shepherd, co-host of The View, said at the time. "Your job is to protect your child … if you don't think pedophiles are watching this show, I have a bridge I want to sell you."
The mother of the toddler defended her actions on Good Morning America..
"The whole idea was for people to see the comedy behind it," Wendy Dickey said on the show. "It's like when you take your children to a kids' movie, there's always adult humor that the parents get that the children don't get and that's what it was about."
The program also had other controversies, like a mom who let her toddler smoke a fake cigarette on stage, and another who padded her daughter's chest to resemble Dolly Parton. The show was eventually canceled in 2016.
Meri and her husband, Kody Brown, were already showing cracks in their relationship — probably because they share their marriage with three other women since they're polygamists. But viewers definitely didn't expect the 46-year-old mom to cheat, which was what she did. In 2015, it was revealed that she had an online relationship with a man named Sam. However, "Sam" turned out to be a woman, and she took all the information Meri told her and published it in a tell-all book. Ouch.
The family rose to fame after they were featured on America's Got Talent, which spurred TLC to give them their own show. However, the happy, singing Christian family was hiding secrets, and in 2016, police began investigating the father of the family. It was later revealed that he had an alleged sexual encounter with an underage girl between the ages of 3 and 13. The Willis' social media accounts were all terminated and the show was canceled. In 2017, Toby Willis plead guilty to four counts of child rape.
There's no question that The Duggars are probably TLC's most successful TV family. But in 2015, their wholesome image was tarnished when it was revealed that eldest son Josh had molested five girls when he was 14 years old, and two of his victims were his own sisters, Jill Duggar and Jessa Duggar. The family came out in defense of their son, saying they sent Josh to get therapy and that the issue was dealt with. TLC didn't think so, and because of the backlash, they canned the show. But Josh's licks kept coming. Later that same year, he was exposed in the Ashley Madison hack.
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