My boyfriend (Dom) and I were relaxing at home one night. We were probably watching The Food Network (because Dom’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives obsession was out of control for a while). A commercial came on highlighting some scandalous, real-life shows that immediately intrigued us. The ad pointed us in the direction of Viceland, Vice’s alternate television channel that has the freedom to show some controversial content (which ranges from eye-opening to hilariously ridiculous).
Some of our favorite shows include, Weediquette, Black Market, Gaycation, Party Legends, and Action Bronson Watches Ancient Aliens.
Dom and I have become avid viewers of Viceland, and here are my top 3 reasons why you should become a viewer too:
1. You get to really see how some people from around the world live.
Watching these shows can really open your mind to a new perspective on what life might be like for many different people.
In Weediquette, the show’s host, Krishna Andavolu, explores all realms of the marijuana culture. He talks to growers who are able to legally sell in states that have legalized marijuana, in some form, and how going corporate can harm these growers.
Andavolu also looks at the illegal side or the marijuana trade, and how many families in the US and the UK are becoming vulnerable to getting their children taken away or serving absurd prison sentences, in the name of health and finances for survival. He also looks at how other cultures (from the Congo, to the Native Americans in Las Vegas) use and sell weed in their everyday lives.
The show Black Market offers an exclusive look at the illicit trade industry. Host, Michael K. Williams, discusses issues from the US, South Africa, and the UK that bring people to black market trading in order to survive. We see people who partake in poaching, stealing cars, gunrunning, and shoplifting to make money to survive or support their substance dependencies.
On a lighter note, Action Bronson’s take on cultural cuisine is both interesting, and entertaining. In F***, That’s Delicious, he learns how to cook and eat local dishes in many different countries. Action and his friends also get pretty high on a regular basis (see also: Action Bronson Watches Ancient Aliens), so you know there will be some shenanigans taking place.
2. Each show creates an intense emotional response, no matter the content.
If you feel strongly about human rights, health, happiness, social injustice, cultural diversity, adventure, and entertainment then Viceland has a show to make you sad, empathetic, angry, curious, enlightened, happy, etc.
Ellen Page and a close friend (Ian Daniel) host the show, Gaycation. They travel around the world to see how the LGBTQ communities differ throughout other cultures. Whether they are in India, learning about how traditional values criminalize homosexual males, or in the US, to see how far the LGBTQ community has come, but also how far our nation still needs to go. In a very emotional episode (S2, E5), we get to see Ellen and Ian visit Orlando, Florida after the tragedy at Pulse nightclub.
One of my favorite shows when I need a really good laugh (and a helpful reminder that situations I have been in are not as weird as others’) is Party Legends. Basically, all you need to know is that celebrities (like TJ Miller and Dennis Rodman) tell their favorite/craziest party stories, while they are also animated to illustrate the absurdities even further.
Sometimes you just sit there with a WTF-look and question how these stories could be real, or you giggle hysterically throughout the entire episode. Either way, this show is a really good time when you are in the mood for some comedic relief.
3. Every show leaves you more informed than you could have possibly expected.
To really try to understand a certain culture, you must dive right in and live it. This is what host, Thomas Morton, does in Balls Deep. He immerses himself in a variety of obscure cultures around the US. Thomas learns to live off of the land in Alaska, how the Muslim community practices the month of Ramadan, and what it's like to follow extreme religious views in Arkansas.
Noisey gives you an inside look in to some of the music scene’s most influential artists. We get to visit Las Vegas to talk to some of the most famous DJs in the world, and discuss Justin Bieber’s career in the EDM scene. The show also features an episode on Compton rapper, YG (Young Gangsta), and his first introduction to using therapy as a means to address his fears after being shot in 2015. He talks about how he used alcohol to deal with the trauma. YG has been in the music scene for many years, but has recently released new music and publicly shares his hatred for Donald Trump.
One very interesting and unique show, called Abandoned, takes us to abandoned buildings and areas with skateboarder, Rick McCrank. He not only skates these architectural skeletons, but also talks with local residents who experienced the sites when they were popular. While reminiscing with people, McCrank also learns about many social issues of the surrounding areas, which may have contributed to the closing of these places. In one episode, Rick talks with students in St. Louis who remember the schools they attended before they were abandoned, and how the city’s economic issues are still not resolved.
So, if you are anything like me and thrive on new information, please check out some of these shows. I can’t believe the interesting things I have learned from watching a television channel. You get to experience some gritty issues, or inappropriate humor that we don’t really get to see or hear a lot about on mainstream media platforms.
You can find descriptions of all of their shows, video clips, and full episodes on: https://www.viceland.com/en_us/shows