TV Critic’s Corner

TLC show gives new meaning to ‘pop culture’

Sandra Lee, star of TLC’s “Dr. Pimple Popper.”
Sandra Lee, star of TLC’s “Dr. Pimple Popper.”

You know, it being the fresh start of the new year and the last day of my short stay filling in here for Mr. Gilbert (welcome back, mister!), I thought I might sign off with something to set the tone for the year ahead, a recommendation that could point you in a positive direction for moving forward. Then I remembered my New Year’s resolution was to take better care of me, so we’re going to talk about TLC’s “Dr. Pimple Popper” instead. Let me explain.

There are these people on Facebook — far more than I would ever have imagined — that really love to watch and share (especially share) gruesome videos of dermatological procedures. On YouTube, millions tune in to see pilar cysts removed, blackheads extracted, and extraordinary zits popped. Pimple poppers have thrived online for years (Pop That Zit has been squeezing out hits since 2006. The most popular popper, far and away, is Sandra Lee, a.k.a. Doctor Pimple Popper, whose channel has 3.1 million subscribers. 

I don’t really stand a chance against these numbers, so rather than try to talk these people out of this fascination (which some scientists connect back to our primitive grooming rituals), I’m just going to try and steer them away from social media so I don’t have to scroll through unwanted minefields of backne. On that front, and that front only, I am pleased to inform you that Dr. Lee now stars in her own show, “Dr. Pimple Popper.” (Not to be confused with the Seinfeldian slur, “Pimple Popper M.D.”)


Spoiler alert, sort of: This is all way too gross for me to actually sit and watch and tell you about so you are getting zero details about the series premiere Wednesday night at 10. 

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I will say the trailers supply a bit more emotional gauze than do the more clinical spy-cam specimens that tend to surface online; and as profoundly disgusted as I am by this entire realm, I do have to admire Lee’s unflinching dedication to her patients’ comfort, confidence, and well-being. This under-the-skin gravitas may be why the show seems to have abruptly switched its title from the originally circulated “This Is Zit,” which — wow, guys. 

As the Internet (and increasingly, TLC) has shown us, there’s place for (almost) every desire out there. Let me not judge, but rather guide. With any luck, “Dr. Pimple Popper” will provide a safe space for pimplephiles on the margins, and an even safer space for me, who really doesn’t need to see any of this while I’m trying to get through a Hot Pocket at my desk. 

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @MBrodeur.