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Damages on FX

(10:00 pm ET)

TV-MA SL

 

Damages on MyNetworkTV

(8:00 pm ET)

TV-14 SLV

 

In the most recent proof that the ratings system is an utter failure, Damages, originally shown on the FX cable network, was “edited” in order to be acceptable to air on the MyNetworkTV broadcast network.  According to a Variety.com article, “the Damages episodes will be edited to reflect a TV-14 rating, which means some of the language will be trimmed, as well as some sexual content, from the original FX airing.” The article also quoted FX Network President John Landgraf as saying, “It’s not hard to cut TV-14 versions,” meaning that the TV-MA show is easily edited to be suitable for a TV-14 rating.

Comparing the FX premiere episode with the MyNetworkTV premiere episode, the only discernable difference is that all instances of the “s-word” and “g-ddamn” were cut, as well as a few (but not all) instances of the word “bitch.”  Left uncut were the words “ass,” “hell,” “damn,” and “bitch,” which are not uncommon for TV-14 broadcast shows. 

 

In the premiere episode of Damages, there is a scene in which the main character Ellen and her fiancée Noah are clearly having sex.  The viewer can see Ellen drag her hands down Noah’s bare back, which is glistening with sweat.  They passionately kiss, Ellen is shown on top of her fiancée smiling while Noah is on the bottom, smiling up at her. 

 

The FX version of this scene is 55 seconds long, while the MyNetworkTV version is 30 seconds long – so, to be fair, the executives did “edit” the scene.  But are network executives making the argument that if a sex scene on broadcast is shorter than on cable that somehow makes it appropriate content for a 14-year-old?  What is of real concern is that the scene was edited for length, not for content. 

 

It is not only the “edited” sex scene in Damages that is troublesome. There is also the violence shown in both versions.  There was no discernable difference between the TV-MA SL version and the TV-14 SLV version.  Noah’s sister, Katie, who has been caught up in a corporate scandal, is threatened by the executives involved in the scandal to keep quiet.  Katie is shown in her bathroom picking up her dog’s bowl of water and she slips, falls and hits her head on the ground.  She looks at her hand, which is covered in blood -- but not her blood.  Katie turns and looks under her bathtub to see a trail of blood leading to the body of her dead dog.

 

In another scene, detectives have found Noah’s dead body in a bathtub.  In both episodes, the scene is the same: a shot of Noah’s bloody leg hanging out of the tub; then a shot of the detective’s faces; a shot of Noah’s blood soaked shirt and chest; then a shot of the detective’s faces; and finally a shot of Noah’s bloody face with his eyes open; then a shot of the detective’s faces.  Again, there is no noticeable difference between the two episodes.

 

According to the Variety.com article, the only two things that the TV-MA show was edited for was language and sexual content.  The language was indeed edited, but the sexual content was only edited for length. Apparently, network executives do not believe that a TV-MA show’s violent content needs to be edited at all to get a TV-14 SLV rating.  Clearly, un-edited violence from a TV-MA SL program being allowed in a TV-14 show suggests that there is no adequate way to warn parents of graphic content.

 

For more information about the TV ratings, please visit http://www.tvguidelines.org/contact.asp

 

If you agree that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at tvomb@usa.net and let them know that the TV ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate content.

 


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