Nowadays, if you’re watching just about any form of home entertainment, you’re paying for it—whether it’s cable, satellite, online video hosting or subscription-based video-on-demand; whether it comes from Cox, Xfinity, DirectTV, Dish Network, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Fire Stick or YouTube Premium. Unless you’re content with nothing more than traditional, free “broadcast television” (which is now “digital terrestrial television” and requires you to at least invest in a digital antenna), you’re forking out a monthly fee. But are you forking out enough money? The entertainment industry sure doesn’t think so. Sure, you have Disney Channel on your cable TV—but do you have Disney+? You pay for AMC on your satellite dish package—but can you watch AMC+? Admittedly, there’s a Paramount Network, but it ain’t no Paramount+. The Walt Disney Companies, the AT&Ts and the ViacomCBSes of the world would like you to commit even deeper to your corporate loyalty. And you need look no further than the newest “+” to arrive on the scene, Discovery+, for proof.
If you’ve got cable or satellite, you probably have access to a whole suite of “Discovery” Channels: Discovery, HGTV, TLC, ID, OWN, Animal Planet, Food Network, Lifetime, Travel Channel, History Channel, Science Channel. They’re all owned by Discovery, Inc., a multinational mass media company based in New York. But starting Jan. 4, Discovery fans will have the opportunity to fork out an extra $4.99 a month ($6.99 a month without ads) to watch more Discovery than any human could possibly handle.
On Dec. 2 Discovery+ started advertising its services, branding itself as the new home for the “90 Day Universe.” For those not yet versed, this refers to TLC’s inexplicably popular, eight-season-long reality dating show “90 Day Fiancé.” The show follows cross-cultural couples who have applied for a K-1 visa, allowing foreign fiancés of American citizens to come to America. That leaves the couples 90 days to plan their weddings, get to know one another or (in some cases) break up. Even more inexplicable is the fact that the show has already spawned nine spin-offs: “90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After,” “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days,” “90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way,” “90 Day Fiancé: Pillow Talk,” “90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined,” “The Family Chantel,” “Darcey & Stacey,” “B90 Strikes Back!” and “90 Day Fiancé: What Now?” (I swear I’m not making these up.) That would seem like more than enough to sate fans of random strangers getting engaged for visas. But the idea of turning this all into one, giant Marvel Comics/Star Wars kind of “shared universe” sends shivers down my spine. Are there really that many people out there slavering for the opportunity to see Chantel Everett from “The Family Chantel” engage in a special crossover episode with Stacey Silva from “Darcey & Stacey”? Do we need a new prequel miniseries explaining how Sumit from “90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way” got to the airport in New Delhi, India to pick up his fiancée Jenny? (Cab? Car? Über?) Will all the fiancés unite at the end of the season to form a supergroup and fight off the universe-destroying threat of Thanos? Inquiring minds want to know!
Of course, if you don’t care about “90 Day Fiancé,” there are still “reasons” to start subscribing to Discovery+. Basically, you get to watch a lot of reruns of Discovery Channel shows. “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives,” “Ghost Adventures,” “The Pioneer Woman,” “Property Brothers,” “My 600 Lb. Life,” “Outdaughtered,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “Expedition Unknown,” “Naked and Afraid”: They’re all here in their documentary, reality and docu-reality glory.
Oh, but it’s not just reruns you’ll be getting. It’s a bunch of webisodes too. Are you a major (and I mean major) fan of “Dr. Pimple Popper”? Well, Discovery+ affords you the opportunity to watch all seven seasons of “Dr. Pimple Popper: This is Zit,” the three-minute-long webisode series that Discovery put up on its Facebook page in 2018. If season 3, episode 7’s “Mama Squishy’s Lemon Custard Steatocystomas” isn’t worth $4.99 a month ($6.99 without commercials), I don’t know what is.
Naturally, there will be some original programming too—depending on how loosely you’re using the world “original.” Discovery+ has lined up—and this is no surprise—four new “90 Day” shows, including “90 Day Diaries,” “90 Day Bares All,” “90 Day Journey” and “The Other Way Strikes Back!” On the food front, we get “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook: Uncensored”—which is just the 2020 Food Network show in which comedian Amy Schumer learns to cook, but … you know, without the bleeping. On the home front, there’s “House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Unfiltered”—where comedians like Natasha Legerro, John Mulaney, Ali Wong, JB Smoov, Chelsea Peretti, Whitney Cummings, Margaret Cho and “NBA star-turned-comic Blake Griffin” watch old episodes of “House Hunters” and provide hilarious commentary. Yup. Other spin-offs include: “Ghost Adventures: Top 10,” “Battlebots: The Bounty Hunters,” “Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue,” “Say Yes to the Dress: In Sickness and in Health,” “Toddlers & Tiaras: Where Are They Now?” I think you get the idea.
With 55,000 hours of programming across 2,500 “classic” Discovery shows and more than 50 “original” titles, Discovery+ is sounding less like a channel for fans of the various Discovery networks and more like a service for folks with a downright unhealthy Discovery obsession. … You know what I’m talking about, guy in Tijeras who writes “Dr. Pimple Popper”/ “90 Day Fiancé: Pillow Talk” slash fanfic.