12/06/2013 03:02 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Which Guilty Pleasure TV Shows Should You Keep Watching?


What counts as a guilty-pleasure show? It seems an ambiguous enough label that it might encompass everything from reality shows to soap operas. Perhaps it is most accurately defined by what it is not: straight-faced and /or critically-acclaimed TV. Each of the shows on this list are accurately categorized by ridiculousness. They might have featured complex conspiracy theories, fake pregnancies or maybe just mud wrestling, but ultimately they count as a kind of indulgence.

In order to be a functioning member of society, we need to stomach this kind of absurdity in moderation -- there needs to be some picking and choosing amongst the ridiculousness. So, as we are met with midseason finales and new installments in January 2014, it's time to make some hard decisions. Here's our advice for 9 current or rapidly approaching guilty-pleasure shows:

The Show: "Nashville"
The Verdict: Keep watching

The return of "Nashville" has yielded a seriously disappointing half season, but it's too soon talk about jumping the shark. Throughout the most recent nine episodes there were a number of aspects of the show that were poorly executed or just plain exhausting, as well as an overarching lack of a clear narrative. But if there is one thing that consistently works for Callie Khourie and Co., it's the music industry. It's fair to be sick of the politics, family drama and fake pregnancy plots, but assuming the rest of Season Two can return to its Nashvillian roots (and give us more Rayna and Juliette duets), there is hope for the house that Connie Britton's hair built.

"Nashville" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

The Show: "The Carrie Diaries"
The Verdict: Stop watching

Sometimes the young Carrie impression is fun and you have to admit that young Samantha Jones looks pretty much exactly like regular Samantha Jones, but ultimately "The Carrie Diaries" is simply not the prequel "Sex and the City" deserves. There was a lot of silliness and not so funny puns. There was some pocketbook-ing of gay men that completely sucked. But overall, "Sex and the City" presented a very pluralistic representation of successful women. "The Carrie Diaries" is about as poignant as a bunny wearing a hat.

"The Carrie Diaries" airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET on the CW.

The Show: "The Bachelor" franchise
The Verdict: Stop watching

Enough is enough. This show has been past its guilty pleasure prime ever since Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi called it quits, like, four hours after the season finale. It's not that we should have ever been convinced that the couples are going to stay together. They don't. But finding love via Chris Harrison and strangely Draconian elimination system hasn't been magical for at least 10 seasons. No more roses for you, "The Bachelor" franchise.

"The Bachelor" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, beginning again January 2014.

The Show: "Sleepy Hollow"
The Verdict: Keep watching

"Sleepy Hollow" pulls from so many different legends and myths that it's almost impossible for it to ever make any logical sense. But it'd be silly if that's what it was trying to do. Instead, Fox's new show embraces the crazy, in a way that allows it to execute biting humor, racial commentary and perhaps the most emotionally satisfying crime-fighting-team since Benson and Stabler.

sleepy hollow
"Sleepy Hollow" continues on Fox Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.

The Show: "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"
The Verdict: Stop watching

Honey Boo Boo is going to go from adorably crass to depressing real fast. There's a threshold for saying and doing what you want without a filter. Being outspoken and eating spaghetti with a fork can only be cute for so long and you don't wanna stick around when the cherub of Middle America outgrows her schtick.

honey boo
"Honey Boo Boo" airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on TLC, beginning again in January 2014

The Show:"Dance Moms"
The Verdict: Fiiine, keep watching

The easiest way to convince yourself to keep watching a reality show is to convince yourself that it's smart. And the best way to do that with "Dance Moms" is to understand it as a character study that functions as profound commentary on the the current heightening of Lolita Syndrome in modern America. OK, mostly kidding (but this show is really fun to watch).

dance moms
"Dance Moms" airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. ET, beginning again January 2014.

The Show: "Revenge"
The Verdict: Stop watching

"Revenge" went from "soapy" to "dishwasher overflowing" all too soon. There's an argument that the recent absurdity might be chalked up to a sophomore slump, but there is too much great TV ... too much guilty pleasure TV to stick with the mediocre for long. Unfortunately, the glory days of Emily's vindication seem about as distant as the believability of her -- spoiler alert -- having a son.

"Revenge" airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

The Show: "Pretty Little Liars"
The Verdict: Stop watching

How many versions of a manipulative murder can there be on one show? At some point in the show, pretty much everyone as been suspected of being "A" at least once. When every single plot turn is shocking and dramatic, it gets boring. The only shocking thing "Pretty Little Liars" has left to do is to simplify its narrative. Who knew scandal could get so boring?

"Pretty Little Liars" airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC Family. ET, beginning again January 2014.

The Show: "Scandal"
The Verdict: Definitely keep watching

This season, "Scandal" has escalated into a realm of absurdity where lovers kill mothers and everything is a conspiracy. But the beneath the ridiculousness is perhaps the most complexly intelligent fictional female that TV has granted us in years. Sure, Olivia Pope has her moral failings. She is, inarguably, a flawed character, but ultimately her nimbleness and well-rounded disposition make for the most powerful representation of a smart lady the small screen has to offer. There aren't enough shock-value-inspired suicide attempt plot lines in the world to ruin that.

"Scandal" airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.


They said WHAT? #nofilter
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