97% of my soul wants to say The X Factor. You might have gathered from my previous posts that I'm no fan of pop in general, so any show that actively promotes it has got to be a bad thing. In particular, a massive show that drags umpteen million people into its audience and persuades a lot of them to part with a heap of cash to make phone votes on an 0900 number is a very bad thing indeed.
Plus, of course, it's one of the ghastly brainchildren of Simon Cowell, who is (not committed, just is) a crime against humanity.
But I'll admit that that's just a kneejerk reaction. I'm just throwing that answer out there without thinking about it much, and I suppose I should really do some brainjuicing and make sure I didn't miss something even worse.
I'm sure that if I were to spend any length of time watching CBBC or (shudder) Ceebeebies, I'd come across all sorts of brain-numbing drivel vomited forth in the name of keeping the little ones entertained. Keeping them braindead, more like. I've had the misfortune, while passing through the living room, to catch snippets of several recent children's shows which have left me with no desire at all to see any more of the shows in question. However, I suspect the 'mainstream' aspect of the question might disallow kiddie programming.
If you were to slightly rephrase the question and deal with entire genres of shows, then it'd be easier - and, rather curiously, it would eliminate the show which stands as my kneejerk choice for worst show ever. If you assess reality / talent shows as a whole, then granted you have the ilk of The X Factor and Big Brother, but you've also got things like The Apprentice, which while not perfect has nevertheless been keeping me amused over the last few weeks. I think I'd have to say the most irredeemable mainstream TV genre is probably the soap opera, as Tim already pointed out earlier this afternoon. There may be the occasional decent reality show, but there are definitely no good soap operas.
However, the question wasn't about genres, it was about a specific show. And, while the soaps collectively are a vile and repulsive waste of broadcast bandwidth, no one of them taken individually is quite foul enough to knock Cowell's pop 'talent' hunt off of the top spot, in my opinion.
I'll probably think of a better answer to this question either five seconds after hitting the 'publish' button, or else at nearly two o'clock tomorrow morning. But for now, I'm going to stick with my gut feeling and go with the answer that 97% of my soul wants to give: the ghastliest mainstream TV show of modern times is, after all, The X Factor.
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