The New Year's resolution might be society's most useless invention since the appearance of those tiny chairs for your cell phone to sit on. They're made to be broken. They've become a joke. In 2011, TIME Magazine compiled an illuminating list entitled "Top Commonly Broken New Year's Resolutions." Unsurprisingly, this list would be exactly the same if it was called "Top New Year's Resolutions." People all over the world are already hitting snooze on their commitments.
So consider swapping your resolution this year to something that you know that you can stick to, something that you are hard-wired as a person living in the 21st century to be great at doing. This spring, watch a whole lot of TV. Here's a guide to replacing TIME's most commonly broken resolutions with a TV show that will happily fill the time you were going to spend waiting in line for the treadmill or half-heartedly learning Spanish. A few of these shows might even inadvertently inch you closer to your goal. Others may cure you of the desire to better yourself in the first place -- problem solved.
Commonly Broken Resolution #1 -- Lose Weight and Get Fit
Luckily for you and your favorite pair of sweatpants, NBC's The Biggest Loser is back with Season 13. This time there's a twist, and it doesn't involve screams, threats, or treadmills made of chocolate cake. The season premiere saw the contestants arrive in familial teams of two, eager to change their lives together and deliver sentimental speeches that make viewers everywhere take their hands out of Cheetos bags to wipe away tears. But the contestants soon discover that they will be forced to compete against their loved ones for the prize. Clearly, somebody at NBC has been watching The Bachelor Pad.
If watching this earnest, adorable bunch struggle for their lives against all odds doesn't get you to scoot down slightly on your couch and attempt some crunches, we give up on you.
Commonly Broken Resolution #2 -- Quit Smoking
You should actually try to quit, if only because it will probably soon be legal for people to pepper spray you in the face for smoking next to their children. In the meantime, try smoking vicariously. Mad Men returns to AMC in March with as many cigarettes as the inside of an Air France flight in the 1970s, and reminding us once again why our grandparents hated each other. In Mad Men, the lighting of a cigarette is always symbolic -- usually of lust, dissatisfaction or intimidation. For you, it could symbolize the necessity to leave chain smoking to the days when men made all their important decisions while drunk and women had to quietly suffer the shocking, pervasive, constant oppression of shoulder pads.
Commonly Broken Resolution #3 -- Learn Something New
If the networks have anything to do with it, we'll all be sewing cocktail dresses out of garbage bags and quoting ageing supermodels by the summer. There will be so many fashion reality shows on air this year that you would have to try really hard to make it to 2013 without learning how to properly accessorize a safari-inspired pantsuit. Bravo was up first on January 2nd with The Rachel Zoe Project spin-off It's a Brad, Brad World, followed quickly by Lifetime's Project Runway All Stars. Lifetime is also introducing 24 Hour Catwalk, and you'll have to wait until March for NBC's Fashion Star, featuring Elle Macpherson. If reality rubs you the wrong way, check out ABC's Jane by Design, a teen comedy taking its cue from Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada. The show also ushers Andie MacDowell out of our fond memories of the '90s and back into the spotlight.
Commonly Broken Resolution #4 -- Eat Healthier and Diet
Try to stuff your face with cookies while watching a shirtless man slice into a freeze-dried Chihuahua while the decapitated head of a grizzly bear observes. Just try. Animal Planet's American Stuffers, a new reality show about a rural taxidermy shop, is sure to erase any hunger pangs you might have. If even doggie dissection doesn't cure your munchies, Fear Factor is finally back on NBC. On this infamously icky show, scantily clad, attractive people put the most repulsive things you can think of into their mouths.
Gear up your gag reflex for a long, stomach-churning season.
Commonly Broken Resolution #5 -- Get Out of Debt and Save Money
You're already on the right track here by choosing to stay home and watch TV instead of spending money making yourself a better person. Beef up on your money-making savvy by tuning into Showtime's House of Lies, a show about a group of management consultants who stop at nothing to get business deals done. Aside from learning how to be a cutthroat money maker, you'll also get to enjoy the stellar cast -- Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and Ben Schwartz (known to you as Parks and Recreation's Jean-Ralphio) star. Pair this promising drama with CMT's Bayou Billionaires, a Beverly Hillbillies-esque reality show that follows a formerly poor family who just found out their home sits on the fourth largest deposit of natural gas in the country, causing them to promptly lose their minds and start buying everything they see. You might lose your taste for big spending when you see how silly it looks.
Commonly Broken Resolution # 6 -- Spend More Time With Family.
Look, if you have to artificially force yourself to hang out with your family, either they are pretty painful to be around, or you need to be reminded of their good qualities. Or you are a Kardashian. If you really can't stand them, we suggest spending more time with America's Modern Family instead, and joining the Dunphys in their adorable shenanigans. Phil and Claire may bicker, deceive, and feud every week, but unlike your actual family, they always come together for a warm-hearted, loving reconciliation at the end of each episode.
Or maybe you just need a little push to realize that your own family isn't all bad. If that's the case, tune into ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap, featuring everyone who didn't make it onto Dancing With The Stars. If watching Gary Busey's wife try to lead a bible study at Ted Haggard's home doesn't make you want to bear hug your whole family, we don't know what will.
Commonly Broken Resolution #7 -- Travel to New Places
Watching IFC's Portlandia, which is back with a second season this month, will eliminate your need to visit Portland, Oregon.
Seriously, check it off your list. Put a pin in the map.
We're calling this a comedy, but it may as well be an anthropological case study. As Portlandia exposes, things that would make you a pariah anywhere else make you cool in Portland. Unemployment is a badge of honor, thick glasses are sexy and wearing clothes and eating food out of the trash is preferable. Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live and Carrie Brownstein of indie rock's Sleater-Kinney fame capture the understated, endearing insanity of Portland inhabitants by playing a wacky mélange of characters that encapsulate the little city's lazy, boozey, peculiar reputation. Carrie and Fred poke fun at Portlandians, but underneath it all there's a deep affection for Bridgetown's eco-crazed, caffeinated, tattooed natives. If you end up wanting to visit after all, pack your best flannel, grow out your chin beard, learn to ride a unicycle and brush up on what's cool with Portlandia's promising second season, which kicks off with an Allergy Pride Parade and a creepy Jeff Goldblum cameo.
Commonly Broken Resolution #8 -- Be Less Stressed
This one is easy. Laugh your stress away with HBO's new Australian comedy Angry Boys, featuring cult-favorite comedian Chris Lilley, who has been cracking up dorm rooms with his mockumentary series Summer Heights High since 2007. Lilley is once again playing multiple characters (this time doubling the number to six) including an American rapper, a manipulative Japanese mother, and a champion surfer. You'll be laughing so hard that you'll forget to obsessively reorganize your to-do list -- we promise.
Commonly Broken Resolution #9 -- Volunteer
You have the power, and you can use it for good. In 2012, make a real effort to swap the shows you feel like you need to hide from your spouse for quality shows with good writing, talented actors and no scenes featuring wealthy people ignoring their Pomeranians. These shows might demand that you follow more than one plotline and dust off your SAT words, but it will be worth it when you've contributed to the cause of keeping classy TV on the air. We're excited about HBO's Lucky, a drama featuring Dustin Hoffman and the shady business of horse racing, and Fox's Touch, where Kiefer Sutherland plays a widower raising a genius son with strange visionary abilities. Don't you feel better already? Test your new resolve by not clicking on this:
Commonly Broken Resolution #10 -- Drink Less
Those of you who waited until you were alone to guiltily cue up this season's premiere of The Bachelor might have noticed that producers turned up the crazy a few notches. Ben Flajnik, this season's floppy-haired Bachelor, is a Napa Valley winemaker, which might explain why the 25 heavily-made up hopefuls were chugging the stuff like it was their last sorority mixer. The booze undoubtedly helped make this one of the most eventful first cocktail parties in the show's history -- Monica, a dental consultant from Salt Lake City, spent most of the party hitting on another contestant, and Jenna, a high-strung blogger from New York, disintegrated into tears for most of the evening. But it was the tear-soaked preview of the rest of the season that made us want to pour our wine glasses into the sink.
From the looks of it, tuning into The Bachelor this season might cure you of the urge to ever make another tipsy, tearful confession.
So what are you waiting for? You now have permission to take all your good intentions for 2012, pack them away with your unopened Portuguese Rosetta Stone and barely-used running shoes, and pick up your shame remote.
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