Like many of you, we here at uglY cOUsin HQ have replaced our costly monthly cable bill with many smaller monthly TV access bills. Why spend 100 or 200 on a single bill to get channels you don’t want, when you can subscribe to Netflix and Prime and HBO Go and Showtime and Hulu and Sling and YouTube TV and get even more you don’t want to watch for a stack of 10 and 20 dollar monthly fees?
If you don’t have Sling or haven’t had it in a while, here’s our guide to the current channel line-up. Sign up for free, forget to cancel, and you too can Take Back TV.
Left side of the menu: Athletes from countries you’re not planning to visit and colleges you didn’t know existed play sports you don’t care to watch—except certain times of year when that one impossible to get football game between your grandparents’ alma maters appears and you are the hero of the family.
Slightly further to the right: An almost never changing assortment of movies you don’t want to watch. If it were the old days when you surfed through the channels, these are the sorts of films you might pause to watch if your thumb was getting tired. Making the extra effort to actually click on one is out of the question. They are like acquaintances who you’ll talk to if you run into them at the supermarket, but you don’t invite to a party. And you’re not completely certain later what their names are.
Middle ground: Stuff you watch ironically or because you want to feel superior. I call these channels “Talk Back TV” because we’re always yelling at them when we watch.
- A&E: If everyone you didn’t like were given their own show, this is where they would end up. Basically, A&E went around the country looking for people with over-inflated egos and over-gelled hair who wear nightclub gear during the day. What do you do? they asked. “Remove snakes with a stick.” Great, you’ve got a show. “Bid on abandoned crap and resell it.” Three shows for you.
- HGTV: Two shows with a variety of names are alternated. In the first, well dressed people who pretend to be contractors bring large crews of workers that wouldn’t show up to work at your house and gut perfectly fine homes, smash cabinets and walls that you wish they would save, and then re-sell the homes to people without imaginations. If the contractors are a husband and wife team, the wife is a “decorator.” The second features rich people obsessed with having large bathrooms and several sinks so their families can all do their business together in the mornings. Oddly, these same people require three to four bathrooms. They are guided through homes so they can say things like “oh, that would have to go,” and “those cabinets are outdated.”
- History: Historical artifacts are explored as a commodity. Things older than 30 years are hoarded, found, bought, and sold. The dialogue generally goes like this. “What a fantastic historical piece.” [Insert Wikipedia description of object here.] “What are you thinking on that?” “200? I was thinking more like 150. Let’s meet in the middle at 175.” People shake hands, and history is made.
- TBS: You can binge watch the 1990s and feel superior to your former self who had to wait a week between episodes.
- VICELAND: Same old ideas, but with fouler titles and lower production value. In other words, it’s hip.
- BBC: People with accents affect the tone of cultured aristocrats discussing a poem over tea while they narrate scenes of animals mauling each other.
- AXS TV: You can binge watch bands from the 80s, saving yourself a trip to your local casino.
- Travel: No one travels outside of a museum. Museums are places that hold small objects once used in murders, or haunted by ghosts.
- Food Network: Like HGTV, the food folk also alternate two shows with a variety of names. Show one is about a militaristic blood sport kitchen in which people cook with various handicaps of time and ingredients while sweating directly on the food they prepare. A panel of judges who get hair tips from A&E “stars” insult the food prepared and eliminate contestants. Spoiler: the problem is usually salt. Show two: Stepford wives cook bland food and speak in hushed tones while being filmed in clean kitchens behind Vaseline lenses. Cute children in white sweaters visit to eat the food. You will be convinced that cloning started with sheep and ended with Martha Stewart.
Right side of the menu: News you’re trying to avoid by subscribing to Sling and a bunch of Disney type stuff that makes you happy your kids are grown. Every so often a Spanish language channel appears that is fascinating to watch. The bright colors and enthusiastic hosts make you want to learn the language. Then, well, you don’t.
If this isn’t enough to make you jump online for your free trial, consider this. Sling also has loads and loads of commercials. Double bonus: they play the same ones over and over. Triple bonus: the commercials are usually three times louder than the show you were watching (five times louder when watching the Stepford Wives Cook). Cable got rid of commercials. Finally, paid services have restored them and made us whole again.