Here in America, our best freak shows are relegated to the nether regions of cable—Discovery Health Channel (17 And Counting, You Swallowed What?), Investigation Discovery (Dying To Give Birth), TLC (The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off)—or, occasionally, when Tyra is willing to show concern with her eyes, to The Tyra Banks Show ("Child Brides," "Bleaching For Beauty," etc). But these shows simply don't wring enough entertainment value from the freaks. You're often left thinking, "This show is so terrible. I shouldn't be watching this," instead of "This is so fascinating." The inherent tawdriness of the shows often gets in the way.
In Britain, however, they've figured out the perfect sensitive freak show medium: pseudo educational or pseudo uplifting documentaries. This way, the talk show sordidness is diluted by beautiful photography and objective voiceovers, but the entertainment value is still very high. It's all of the gawking, but none of the guilt!
Take, for example, Married To The Eiffel Tower, a BBC documentary about people who are attracted to monuments, amusement park rides, bridges, and other inanimate objects.
(Watch here. You know you want to.)
Or the recent BBC America Reveals: My Fake Baby.
But the most entertaining—and moving— of these sensitive freak shows, at least for me, is about a very, very special little boy: