Television in Germany is a sorry state of affairs. In fact, if you ask me, it’s a downright scam. Every household in Germany is required to pay something called the ARD ZDF Deutschlandfunk Gebühr (think of it as a TV licence fee). People are supposed to pay this to fund the public broadcasters. In return, one would normally expect half decent programming. That does not happen.
Germans love their talk shows, game shows and literally any show where they can sit and listen to people talk for hours and hours and hours while the audience breaks out into spontaneous rhythmic bursts of applause. Germans also love repeats of shows and movies from way back when. I guess that makes some sense because the demographic is trending toward old age nowadays.
Let’s have a look at some famous crappy German TV programming.
- Tatort (Crime Scene): Germans love this show and I cannot understand for the life of me why! It’s a really cheesy cop show which airs 30 times a year almost each time from a different city featuring different detectives.
Schlag den Raab (Raab’s Challenge): This show is all about an egoistic guy called Stefan Raab who fancies himself as the jack of all trades. The guy challenges a candidate from a chosen pool to games testing physical and mental strength. Whoever makes 60 points first gets to take home millions of Euros. Not a bad concept, eh? Here’s the bummer: the show can last 4-5 hours on average!!!
- Wetten dass…? (Wanna bet…?): Another saga lasting 4-5 hours is a show where celebrities come and bet if contestants will or will not be able to complete a dare.
The dares range from the ridiculous (such as people being able to recognize songs from the frequency of tail lights being switched on and off) to the totally bizarre (like the guy who could recognize 30 different types of massage oils by rubbing them on his hands and massaging bareback models). This gem of a show was canceled after the long time host quit due to an accident during a live broadcast. By the way, here’s what Tom Hanks had to say about Wetten dass…? when he was there.
- Rosenheim Cops: Another cop show full of cliches. This one is based in the city of Rosenheim. Interesting fact is if Rosenheim had as many murders as this show, a big percentage of the city’s population would now be dead by unnatural means.
- The Whole N24 Channel: If you are a World War 2 enthusiast and can watch documentaries on the topic 24/7 (I kid you not, literally the whole day) watch N24.
- Dating Shows: Dating shows about really fat people or losers who have no prospects of ever finding someone have found their way on German television too. These shows are like traffic accidents; you don’t wanna stare, but you can’t look away either. Check out this “best of” (take those two words with a dollop of salt instead of a pinch) one such shows.
Now, to be fair, German TV has it’s good moments as well. Here’s a list of those.
- Wer wird Millionär? (Who wants to be a Millionaire?)
: The German edition of the Millionaire Show is pretty good and is quite fun to watch. The host Günther Jauch is a beloved personality and comes off on TV as a great guy.
- Germany’s Next Top Model: I have 8 words to say on this topic: Heidi Klum and a bunch of hot girls. Watch this show, guys. Totally worth it.
- Talent Shows: Talent shows in Germany are quite good. Shows like Deutschland sucht den Superstar
(Germany searches for a Superstar) – DSDS for short – and many other similar shows are quite good.
- News: Usually, the German news is quite balanced and well researched. Of course, they sometimes take sides and do unfair reporting but you won’t find a Fox News here which is a blessing.
- Heute Show (Today Show): For those of you who are fans of political satire and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report or Last Week Tonight, you will enjoy the Heute Show as well. It airs once a week and has great tongue in cheek comedy.
Overall, I do not like German TV and would not be caught watching it. It has its good moments and bad, but the bad moments outweigh the good ones. I would like to take time here to thank the US and UK television producers for giving the world great programming. If they weren’t producing quality shows, life would not be good. In the end, watch this video from Germany’s Next Top Model. This one’s specially for the guys.