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Why do we love watching F-ed up shows on TV?

I was browsing through the TV listings for something to watch before the new episode of Dance Moms, and I came across the programme titled "The 200kg Boy". I suppose the content is fairly explanatory - this poor 15-year-old child weighs 200kg (about 440lbs), and this show is chronicling the "extreme measures he takes to fight his obesity" (lol). I understand how seriously fucked up it is to gawk at a someone's personal struggles, but god-damn it I just cannot stop watching.

Compared to the more sensationalist stuff on channels like TLC, this is relatively sensitive to the boy and has a lot of informative stuff in it, but should we be even showing this at all? It's a tricky issue - to gain acceptance for non-normative appearances, we need to see them as people, and not as curiosities for our entertainment, and seeing this boy go from 200kg to 100kg in under a year may give someone a measure of hope or encouragement to take care of themselves (if they want to, of course), but at the same time I know people just see the title and think "Oooh let's laugh at a fat kid".

I love these kinds of shows - Intervention, My Strange Addiction, Extreme ER Disasters - even though they are so problematic in so many ways. Does anybody know how to get over the guilt when they watch their favourite junk TV? Why do we watch this stuff even when we know it's wrong?

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