Have You Seen This Man Lately?

If you’re anything like me, the answer to the above question is an enthusiastic “Hells…YES! I love that shit!”

You see, To Catch a Predator is one of the greatest shows to ever exist. For those of you not in the know, the show features journalistic juggernaut and elocution expert Chris Hansen confronting would-be pedophiles who are lured into a fake house by online vigilantes posing as underage boys and girls. As you watch episode after episode (beware of the marathons—they will suck you in for HOURS*), you begin to wonder why the accused men, when they’re confronted by the affable Hansen who tells them they’re free to go, don’t turn around and get the eff out of there. Only then do you realize that you’re rooting for the perv to get away, so you keep that to yourself and continue to watch in enjoyable horror as Hansen reads transcripts of online chats between the accused and the fake 13-year old. Most of these conversations are beyond uncomfortable, but a few little gems do slip through. For example, “Now what exactly were you going to do with a cat, a yo-yo and an entire box of condoms?” Classic.

Though I’ve been watching episodes of To Catch a Predator (TCAP for short) for about five years now, I’ve never really seen the same episode twice, so I figured Chris Hansen was still cracking away at wannabe kid-diddlers and recording new episodes. Little did I really know, NBC pulled the plug on TCAP in 2008, two years after a caught predator shot himself while a news crew waited outside his home. WHAT?! How could this have flown under my radar? (First, the shooting and secondly, the cancellation.) One of the greatest shows in all of American TV history gets the ax and I’m none the wiser? I had to endure hourly updates of CBS’ cancellation of Two and a Half Men, but the media won’t jump on TCAP? Preposterous!

I can only hope Chris Hansen is in his Dateline office working on his next big thing. And I can only hope it involves a kitty, a yo-yo and an entire box of condoms.

*Fourth of July, 2007—Instead of lounging by the water or grilling up some food, I spent approximately six hours in a dark, air-conditioned house watching back-to-back episodes of To Catch a Predator. I’d never seen the show and was obviously fascinated. Talk about a patriotic way to spend Independence Day.

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