There are so many TV shows out there right now, it’s hard to keep track of it all. You want to watch the best “prestige” dramas, the buzzed-about documentaries, and edgy comedies but it can be exhausting. There is such a thing as too much quality TV. So what’s a girl to do when she just can’t watch one more montage set to lovely indie music?!
Easy answer: she can watch some juicy, soapy, guilty pleasure TV. From reality TV shows to teen dramas, there are so many wonderfully trashy shows to indulge in. With their ridiculous plot lines and ~drama~ galore, you just can’t go wrong. Guilty pleasure TV is perfect for basically every occasion, too. When you’re sad and just want to eat ice cream? Yup. When you’re trying to unwind and not think too hard? Oh, yeah. And when you just want to fantasize about a way crazier life? DOUBLE YES.
18. Teen Mom
When it comes to the ridiculous TV that you definitely shouldn’t love as much as you do, this show takes the cake. Following the lives of, you guessed it, teen moms, this MTV reality show gets into the nitty-gritty of teen motherhood. The teens fight with their parents and try to get their flighty boyfriends to stick around all while trying to raise their kids into semi-normal children. It’s not only fascinating television but also the ultimate cautionary tale: teen motherhood is not glamorous. But it does make for great entertainment.
17. Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin has always modeled itself on Spanish novellas, meaning its soapy element is all but guaranteed. The show starts with a virgin getting accidentally artificially inseminated, so you know it’s going to be full of insane plotlines. But here’s the thing — while this is definitely a guilty pleasure — it’s also just excellent TV. Gina Rodriguez owns her crazy storylines, and the show regularly recognizes just how OTT it’s being. It’s entertaining as hell, self-aware, and waiting for you on Netflix.
16. Pretty Little Liars
This is the one guilty pleasure we should probably all feel legitimately guilty about loving as much as we do. It’s so absurd! There are dead teens that aren’t really dead, mysterious e-stalkers, teachers dating students, and so much more. There is no end to the insane things that have happened on this show. Not a damn minute of the show makes sense, but it’s more engaging than even Breaking Bad was and that ain’t nothing.
15. Desperate Housewives
This is essentially Pretty Little Liars but with adults and way more wine. The ladies on Wisteria Lane have no shortage of outrageous goings-on. These women aren’t your normal mom’s next door. They’re having affairs, gossiping incessantly, and dealing with seriously weird neighbors. This is the perfect guilty pleasure binge for when you’re a little too old for the hottest CW show, but you still want to scream “OH MY GOD” at the TV every five minutes.
14. General Hospital
This wouldn’t be a list of guilty pleasures without an actual soap opera on the list. This is one of the longest-running soaps of all time and literally everything has happened on the show. Secret love children, surprise twins, train crashes, affairs, amnesia — you name it, General Hospital has done it. And the best thing about a good soap? You can jump in at any time and get instantly engrossed in the story. Plus, there’s a new episode every day, and that’s the kind of consistency we need in our lives.
While The Bachelor is its own guilty pleasure (more on that later), this show based on the behind the scenes of a reality dating show is almost even juicier. The show follows the producers, creators, and crew of a Bachelor-like dating show and it’s amazing. You can’t help but wonder if this is how real reality TV shows manufacture their drama, with all the string pulling and even drugging! (The showrunner is a former Bachelor producer so, make your own conclusions how much of it is real AF.) It’ll make you rethink all your reality faves.
12. Grey’s Anatomy
Taking a trip to Shondaland (a.k.a all the crazy shows Shonda Rhimes has made) is always such a guilty pleasure. Let’s be honest — if doctors in real life acted like these doctors do day in and day out, there would probably be a lot of neglected patients. Y’all are finding a lot of time for long, impassioned speeches to each other in the stock rooms… Just saying. But it’s just so good and filled with so much insanity that as a viewer, you don’t even care about how implausible it is. It’s TV comfort food.
11. How to Get Away With Murder
With a title like that, how can this show not be a total guilty pleasure? This juicy show centers on a group of law students learning how to get away with murder — in class and in real life. There’s romance, crazy fights, and, naturally, some death and deception. Plus Viola Davis is the GOAT when it comes to dramatic monologues and a looks that could kill. Prepare for twists and turns that will keep you planted on the couch until you realize it’s been three days and you’ve watched the entire show.
10. Fuller House
This one is under the “train wreck” category when it comes to guilty pleasure shows. It’s so bad, but you just can’t look away. The cheesiness from the original Full House definitely worked better in the ’90s, but it’s so nostalgic that you’re going to watch it anyways. Sure, there’s the shoehorned “adult” jokes in there that will be sure to make you cringe, but there are also some fun nods to the original series. And let’s admit it — Full House was a pleasure and we do not feel guilty about it. At the end of the day, it’s a mindless sitcom to get your mind off life, and isn’t that something we could all use?
9. The Real Housewives Franchise
The cattiness among the Real Housewives casts is unmatched. You got the broads in New Jersey fighting over sprinkle cookies and the ones in Beverly Hills fighting over if one of their boyfriends is faking cancer or not. It’s too good. You literally cannot make up half of the crazy shiz these ladies are willing to do and say. When it comes to guilty pleasures, this one is honestly a *little* embarrassing because let’s admit it — we watch all twenty of the different variations and invest a significant portion of our week on this franchise. And we’ll never stop.
8. The Royals
You’ve got Elizabeth Hurley and a whole bunch of attractive Brits, and if that doesn’t scream guilty pleasure, I don’t know what does. This show focuses on a fictional royal family and all the crazy turmoil between them as they try to act classy but still end up embroiled in scandals. There isn’t even an attempt to make this a realistic depiction of royalty — it’s all sex scandals and womanizing 4EVER. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
7. The O.C.
Welcome to the O.C., bitch! That iconic line cemented this show as one of the best teen drama guilty pleasures of all time. Life in the O.C. with nerdy Seth (Adam Brody) and bad-boy Ryan (Ben McKenzie) was full of (mostly meaningless) drama. Rich kids got problems, man. The show managed to have a killer soundtrack and make Mischa Barton seem like a good actress, and for that, we love it forever.
Another Shonda Rhimes thrill ride comin’ atchya. Oliva Pope (Kerry Washington) is exactly who you want to be when you grow up. She handles everything and basically runs the free world. The show about a political fixer turned President’s mistress turned chief advisor to the first female President is bonkers. All of the political espionage and dramatic soliloquies will keep you absolutely hooked. Every episode is emotionally charged and completely shocking. You know that big emotional climax at the end of a season of TV? Uh, every episode has one of those. It’s so satisfying.
5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
With a title like that, how can this not be a guilty pleasure? Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) gives up her entire life in New York City to follow a guy she barely knows to California where she hopes love will blossom. It’s basically Felicity with more musical numbers. Because, yeah, star and creator Rachel Bloom incorporates her own hilarious and poignant songs throughout the series and it’s AH-MAH-ZING. The show has veered into dark territory, too, like Rebecca’s recent struggles with mental illness. It’s satisfyingly funny but also relatable AF.
4. The Vampire Diaries
Ever since Twilight came around, vampire-centric entertainment has been the guiltiest of pleasures. This series about a human girl who catches the eye of two vampire brothers is just as crazy as it sounds. The things that happen in half a season on this show could span ten seasons on another. The breakneck speed and totally shippable romances make this one of those series you just can’t look away from. Guilty pleasure binge watches are the best binge watches, right, ladies?!
3. The Bachelor Franchise
You know it, you love it, and you unabashedly take bets on who’s going to win the final rose. The Bachelor was the forefront of dating reality shows and it’s still the reigning champ. Who doesn’t love watching a bunch of fame-hungry ladies embarrasses themselves as they vie for a stranger’s attention? Who doesn’t love watching a bunch of hot-headed guys get into fist-fights over one beautiful gal? It’s pure trash TV in the absolute best way. Sure, most of it is probably fake and the couples never stay together, but you’re never going to stop watching it. Don’t even get us started on the guilty pleasure TV that is Bachelor in Paradise. Not going to lie, this show will probably exist for longer than we do.
2. Gossip Girl
One of the best guilty pleasures in life is looking into the lives of the rich and famous and lusting after everything, and Gossip Girl is basically that in TV form. A bunch of rich teens from the Upper East Side basically have their lives run by a blogger named Gossip Girl who tracks their every move and sometimes blackmails them into doing her bidding. In the end, we find out who Gossip Girl is (ugh, don’t get me started) but only after she manufactures all the drama. The show takes us from teen problems to adult issues as the characters age, but they stay just as petty and dramatic as ever. I mean, a guy traded the “love of his life” for a hotel, who does that?! It’s filthy, sexy fun and that’s probably why everyone’s parents didn’t want them watching it in high school.
1. One Tree Hill
A dog ate the heart a character needed for a transplant, and that tells you everything you need to know about how ridiculous this show is. One Tree Hill is the MVP of crazy teen dramas, no competition. The gang partied with Pete Wentz, cheated on each other constantly, drove off bridges, got married as sophomores… in high school… and dealt with psycho stalkers. There was no shortage of soapy storylines on the show that got progressively more nuts as time went on. And that is what makes it so great. You can’t help but root for Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) or wonder why Dan (Paul Johansson) just won’t die. The writing may be a little over the top, and the acting was laughable at times, but you can’t help but love this classic guilty pleasure.