On this week's Miami Ink...

Until this past week, I hadn’t been a big fan of Miami Ink, which is to say that, until this past week, I hadn’t caught more than three or four episodes of the reality show that documents weeks in the life of a tattoo shop run out of the titular Miami. Now, I don’t have tattoos myself, nor do I have much interest in getting any – though, giant angel wings on my back would be kind of cool (if I ever get in shape) – so keeping up with a series about getting tattoos seemed kind of like a waste of my time. After watching several more episodes, I’ve discovered I’m not wrong: Watching Miami Ink is an utter waste of my time. That said, I love it.

There are plenty of ways to waste an hour of your life in front of the television, but this show is one of the few that satisfy me as, A, entertaining, B, utterly unimportant, and, C, perfect for forgetting your day while watching. If you’re looking for a way to unwind before bed and don’t have a bottle of wine, Miami Ink will do the trick!

In last night’s episode (from its third season on TLC), the shop’s owner Ami James is freaking out because of continuing trouble with his bar, and he’s all too willing to take it out on his staff including his Padawan learner, Yoji Harada, who, aside from still being an apprentice tattoo artist, seems more than willing to silently absorb his boss’s abuse. Ami’s outbursts are so dramatic that guest artist Virginia – in town to sort of audition for a job at the shop – even gets freaked out. To be fair, Yoji does come across as a kind of like the irresponsible teenager trying to keep up with his dad; he moves Ami’s machines without replacing them and, even worse, he accidentally rubs the stencil off a client’s body after Ami warned him not to, which necessitates Ami coming in to fix the rookie blunder.

Meanwhile, the clientele is always a diverse mix – like Carly, who wants a goldfish on her lower back, to remind her to live every day to its fullest since her mom and her only just survived a sinking cruise ship. Why a goldfish? Don’t ask these things. Kind of like Julia’s coy fish, meant to signify her mother’s strength. It makes sense to her, so don’t question it.

Another client, Emilio, freaks the whole staff out; a body modifier, he sports large piercings and sub-dermal implants, has had his navel removed, and is covered, head to toe, in tattoos. “Different strokes for different folks,” tattoo artist Darren Brass says. To compliment this, client Peter is a super-genius who brags about his IQ and wants a sprawling octopus on his shoulder to show everyone how cool he really is. He’s still a cocky little twerp in need of an ass-kicking.,/p>

To make us cry, there was also Tabitha, a psychology intern whose five-year-old daughter just passed away and now wants a tattoo of her on her back and Kyle – a student with a twin brother confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak – who wants a cardinal because it represents the spirit of his handicapped brother. This is what’s remarkable about Miami Ink; it seems like a show about nothing, but then it punches in the gut to surprise you. I guess that makes it a reality show with something to say, but I’m really okay with it just being a show about nothing to watch when I don’t want to think.,/p>