Olivia Crandall on the highs and lows of peak good-bad television.
Extreme Sisters is awful. For those possessing even the tiniest nubbin of taste, it’s an absolute no-go. Do not endorse. There’s an asterisk, though — for my fellow trash heads chasing the high of fresh mess, it’s damn-near perfection (at least in this moment).
The show, which just wrapped its first season on TLC and is available on Discovery+, has the simple premise of showcasing sisters with extraordinary bonds. There’s boyfriend sharing and quaternary marriage, pickled placentas and no less than three psychics, habits played up for the cameras, and habits so mundanely bizarre they couldn’t possibly be. It’s the kind of TV that makes you feel like you’re trapped at a Holiday Inn Express in Green Bay, WI. while your partner takes wedding party photos for their college friend’s cousin. But in a good way! Want to feel smug about even the messiest of your own relationships while also watching a dentist mull over the ethics of removing a healthy molar from a twin desperate to mirror her infected sister from tits to teeth? You’ve come to the right place. Side note — I refuse to consider that a spoiler. In my mind, reality TV sans competition is more akin to visiting The World’s Largest Jack-In-The-Box than watching Game of Thrones. Plot is a mere suggestion, it’s about the vibes.
And although one can’t spoil what’s already rotten, exhaustion is possible. Good bad TV is a fleeting calibration of reality and camp, with too much of one leading to earnest tedium and the other the visual equivalent of Lady Gaga Oreos. This ephemerality is the same reason reality TV is often discussed in terms of specific moments in time. The best of the genre is rarely entire franchises (even RHONY has several dud seasons), but rather individual scenes. It’s Jonny and the fake dead grandma, Snooki and the fist, Alexis Neiers and the four-inch little brown Bebe shoes. It’s a sizzle reel of raw chaos. And with each year pushing us further down the reality star to influencer pipeline, the dragons we chase are less holographic Charizard in the wild, more Charmander freshly plumped with Restylane and coke bloat, trying to pass as the majestic final form of an era long gone.
When it comes to Extreme Sisters, we can see the flop on the horizon. With the mid-labor butthole-shaving out of the way, there’s not much to wring out of Brooke and Baylee beyond more bad acting with their caricature of a mom. And now that we have the keys to the Salyers twins’ four-way IG account, is sitting through everyone else’s fumbling banality worth it? Probably not. Personally, I give Extreme Sisters another 2.7 episodes tops before it fully crosses the threshold into stale and overproduced, a relic of codependency decaying its way to irrelevance on the outskirts of the 90 Day Fiance cinematic universe. So if you’re gonna take a peek, do it now. Trash TV is not the place for loyalty. Keep the expectations low and know when it’s time to hit the bricks. After all, dumpster fires were never meant to burn eternal. — By Olivia Crandall