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I Read It For The Articles is the Stock Phrase people use to avoid catching any flak over liking a media product which has parts to it that are not popular or socially acceptable. It still allows them to watch or read it as a Guilty Pleasure -- after all, they can't say they actually like it without facing widespread ridicule. Some have actually said "I watch it ironically" unironically.

Name comes from a common justification for reading Playboy magazine, which an incredible number of people claim to only read for the articles. While certainly discredited today as a legitimate excuse, this could have reasonably been Truth in Television in The Sixties and The Seventies. [1] Playboy used to (and still does) have a variety of short stories, snippets, and interviews that wouldn't be out of place in The New Yorker... just with naked women. [2]

Just to be clear, works that you or the fandom consider guilty pleasures are not examples of this trope.

Compare Or So I Heard. Contrast with Unconventional Learning Experience.

Examples of I Read It for the Articles include:


  • The Discovery Channel used this trope to market the show Smash Lab when it premiered.

 "If anyone asks, you watch it for the science. But we know the real reason."

  • At least at one point, Playboy sold and advertised shirts with their logo in small and the trope name in large print.
    • Playboy actually sold compilations of all its articles. You can get the last Playboy John Lennon interview as a book too.


  • Amusingly, for a long time Playboy paid better per word than almost any other magazine; as such it attracted some serious writing talent. That Other Wiki points out that along with interviews with all sorts of famous people (Martin Luther King and Fidel Castro for example), Playboy has featured short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Margaret Atwood, and even the original A Christmas Story. One issue even has article written by Elliott Gould - look it up - wherein he tells of his recent trip to Disneyland...on acid.
    • Its interviews are often fairly noteworthy in their own right. For example, Jimmy Carter admitting that he's tempted to cheat on his wife, and Metallica revealing just how dysfunctional they actually were in the late 1990's. The last major interview John Lennon gave was for Playboy; it was on newsstands when he was murdered.
    • Playboy used to be downright draconic about what they would accept. Stephen King, in the foreword to one of his short story collections, recounts a time when he brushed off a friend ragging on him for the high cut his agent took from the pay from a story: "He damn well earned it. He got me in Playboy."
    • The novel Fahrenheit 451 actually started off life as a series of short stories in Playboy.
    • I.Z.E.T.I.T. once analyzed the contents of a Playboy:
      • Vehicles: 12 g and 0.2115 m2
      • Girls 36 g and 0.415 m2
      • Articles and other interesting content (the entire rest?): 274 g
    • Playboy is also one of the few magazines which are also published in braille so that blind people can read the articles. Not only that, but that publication is government-subsidized...and when the United States Congress tried to cut off the funding in the '80s, that move was ruled unconstitutional as a First Amendment violation.
    • They've also played on this reputation - they sell (or at least one point sold and advertised; don't know if they're still available) shirts with their logo in small and the trope name in large print.
  • The articles in Mayfair Magazine (still the leading men's rag in the UK) are commonly of topics suited to The History Channel ([1]) or Discovery, such as articles on the common myths surrounding Drake's defeat of the Spanish Armada or the tactics and techniques of contemporary era snipers, or the design of new-line Rolls Royce engines. It's quite common for readers to get the mag for the women, and stay to read the articles.


  • In Breakfast of Champions, although Kilgore Trout's novels once sold at a high price to people who bought them for the "wide-open beavers" advertised on their covers in banners larger than the stories' titles, they later sold at a far lower price to people who bought them for the words, since hard-core pornography had become so devalued that "even high quality color motion pictures of wide-open beavers were going begging in the marketplace."
  • Dave Barry mentions this excuse in one of his books, "you read it for the articles despite knowing how hard it id to read sideways."

Live Action TV

  • In NCIS, Tony states this as the reason why he has such a large Porn Stash.
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Chandler Crosses a Line":

 Kathy: Oh, God, is that Baywatch?

Chandler: Yes, but I only watch it for the articles.

    • Also a bit of an inversion in the episode where Playboy prints a joke which Ross (or Chandler) made, and Joey says, "You know they have naked chicks in there, right?"
  • Referenced in Coupling where the men visit a lap dancing club, Steve claims their visit is 'strictly for the articles'.
  • An inversion occurs in the Christina Applegate sitcom Jesse when the title character finds a Playboy among Diego's belongings.

 Jesse: Let me guess. You read it for the articles.

Diego: No, no... there are naked women in here.

  • Another inversion happens in Mork and Mindy in an episode where Mork becomes addicted to advertisements. When Mindy finds a magazine, Mork says "I swear, I only read it for the naked women."
  • In Will and Grace, Will mentions "actually reading Playboy for the articles" as something he used to do before he came out.
  • Life On Mars 2006 - Sam's excuse while hiding a tape recorder under Gene's copy of Jugs.

  "You know what the really sad thing is? I believe you."

Newspaper Comics

 Andy: Peter, I found something interesting under your mattress.

Peter: Mom, I swear, I only read those magazines for the articles!

Andy: I meant this baseball mitt. Now, about those magazines...

  • Parodied in Pooch Cafe when Chaz tries to convince Poncho that a collarless dog is still decent by showing him wolf photos. (Kinda gives a new meaning to National Geographic Nudity.)
  • This occurred in one arc of Luann, although Brad wasn't making any excuses. His mother found a copy of Playboy in his room; when his parents confronted him about it, he calmly told them a girl at school had loaned it to him because it included a very interesting article about civil liberties. Mom and Dad were shocked: "He got this from a girl?" "He read an article?"


  • In You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal, the Laird reads Big Fit Birds for the gardening tips.
  • One of Round the Horne's running gags is Kenneth Horne mentioning some absurd and often vaguely smutty-sounding publication and claiming to read it for the crossword/spot the ball competion/etc.

 "Now the other day I was leafing through my copy of The Lady Wrestlers Home Journal, which I buy for the fat stock prices..."

"Recently I was leafing through my copy of "Throw off Your Clothes and Live"- I buy it for the chess problems..."


  • In one sketch, the French comedian trio "Les Inconnus" mentioned the magazine Photo, an art photography magazine featuring naked models , which can "provide a good alibi" when in society :

 " looks very smart, you can read it in front of people : '- what are you reading ?' '- I'm reading Photo... You know, I recently took interest in Photography...' "

Video Games

  • In-Universe in Fallout 2: when asked by Miss Kitty in New Reno why you have some Cats paw magazines on you, you can reply that you read them for the articles.
    • She gives you a quest to find a full set of the Cat's Paw magazines, since she runs the Cat's Paw brothel. When you bring them all back, she says there's two issues of #5, and some of the pages are stuck together,. so you can keep it. She unsticks them for you, since she's an expert at handling sticky things. An article in the magazine gives you an extra 5% skill with energy weapons. "What do you know. You DO read it for the articles."
  • Mao of Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice claims that his obsessive collection of comics and videogames is merely research on's pretty obvious that he's one of The Knights Who Say Squee.


 Wife: Japanese Playboy?

Husband: I, uh, read it for the articles.

Wife (happy): Wow! I didn't know you could read Japanese!

Husband grins

  • Sam and Fuzzy has a character use an inversion of this. Sam, embarrassed to be caught reading a porn magazine's advice column, insists to his coworkers that he only reads it "for the pornography".
  • Inverted in Fans, where Shanna, who claims to be a lesbian, keeps around a stack of Playboy... which (being a closet scifi geek) she reads for the articles.
  • Questionable Content has a comic where Pintsize swears he is reading a Apple magazine for the benchmarks despite a suspicious can of WD-40 lubricant nearby.
  • Eben's justification for reading "Cat Fancy".
  • Igor of Dork Tower quotes this when trying to explain why he's a Dead or Alive fan, then immediately self-corrects to "I buy it for the gameplay." This does not convince anyone.

Western Animation

  • In Justice League, when Flash says that he knows who the Hugh Hefner Expy is, Wonder Woman asks "So you're familiar with his work?" To which Flash responds "I just read it for the articles." As always, this bit of Getting Crap Past the Radar brought to you by Justice League.
  • Homer tries to use this excuse on Marge in an episode of The Simpsons, so she calls his bluff and cuts out all of the naked women. Homer sadly throws the Playboy in the garbage where Bart finds it, and apparently not realizing that something is missing, assumes the articles are what the big deal is about.
  • In My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, Rabbit's Christmas wish is to meet Santa Claus and find out how he delivers toys to all the children. He doesn't think it's possible, though, so he states that he's also asked for a subscription to Rutabaga Monthly. He then continues, hilariously, "for the articles, of course."
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh Five accuses Numbuh Two of reading Rainbow Monkey comics. Numbuh Two claims that he only reads them for the video game ads.
  • The Playboy magazine version of this was parodied in King of the Hill where Hank discovers a copy of The New Yorker in Bobby's room. When confronted about Bobby panics and swears that he wasn't reading it for the articles.
  • Scooby Doo Mystery Inc: Daphne spots Fred with a copy of his favorite magazine "Traps Illustrated" with a female cheesecake photo on the cover. Fred's alibi, natch, is that he reads it for the articles.
  • Inverted in an Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode where Eddy has Ed hide his "magazines". After the trio implies that Ed hid them in the sewer and Double D mentions how the text must be ruined, Eddy's remark is, "It's the pictures I'm worried about."


  1. Playboy paid writers nearly three times as well as other publications, meaning that it drew considerable talent, such as Jack Kerouac and Arthur C. Clarke.
  2. This is true to the point that the Braille edition of Playboy is one of the top selling Braille magazines, even though it completely lacks its usual selling point.
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