Support Our Work File an FCC Complaint Movie Reviews Join Us Family Guide to Primetime Television Home
Parents Television Council - Because Our Children Are Watching


1%-5% of your purchase will help support the PTC.

TV Trends

Brought to you by the Parents Television Council

The Bizarre Sex Fall Season Continues

by Christopher Gildemeister


In this column, the Parents Television Council seeks to keep parents and other viewers informed about harmful or questionable prime-time programming.


As was noted in last week’s column, bizarre forms of sex are being emphasized to a much greater degree on television than ever before. This trend shows no signs of abating; indeed, in the last week still more extreme and unusual forms of sex were shown, accompanied by ever-more graphic and raunchy language describing it.


The Disney-owned ABC network is apparently doing everything possible to counter their owners’ child-friendly image. ABC has done the most in the new season thus far to highlight unusual forms of sex than any other.


ABC’s apparent fetish for transsexuals and transvestites has not abated. On the October 3rd episode of Dirty Sexy Money, would-be senator Patrick’s transsexual lover Carmelita demands that Patrick tell his wife about their affair. Later, the two are shown in bed together, while Patrick’s father rages at his wife, "‘Issues!’  Our married son has affairs with transsexuals and you stand there calling them ‘issues!’”  On the October 4th episode of the network’s allegedly family-friendly hit Ugly Betty, the amnesiac transsexual Alexis is thrilled to discover that she has had her gender reassignment surgery. Throughout the episode, Alexis constantly fondles her own breasts in delight, at one point proclaiming, “Me becoming this!” [Alexis gestures at her crotch].  “With THESE!” [Alexis grabs her breasts]. Alexis’ self-stimulation eventually prompts Betty to similarly grope herself. But the greatest fascination for transsexuals was found on the October 4th episode of ABC’s paean to male promiscuity, Big Shots.  Dontrelle, the transvestite prostitute who performed oral sex on Duncan at a truck stop, reappears and tells the story to a reporter. Duncan’s friend Brody commiserates with Duncan, indulging in grotesque sexual slang in the process: “When your friend's career hangs in the balance because he tried to bribe a tranny who gave him a knobber in a Yonkers rest stop…”  Finally, Fox briefly joined in the transvestite fetish follies, with its program K-Ville featuring a man who is found hanging from a balcony after patronizing a prostitute. The man is wearing a bondage gag as well as a woman’s garter belt and stockings.


But this was merely the tip of the bizarre sex iceberg.  Another recurrent theme on ABC was that of two people engaging in sex while another is present. On several programs a man and a woman engage in sex while a friend hides underneath the bed in which the sex is taking place. On Ugly Betty, Christina and Betty hide under Wilhelmina's bed so that they don't get caught after breaking into her apartment, leading to the following dialogue:


Wilhelmina: "Everyone at the office thinks that I'm having lunch with the great Nora Ephron.  Little do they know she's been covering my daytime romps for years.”

Dwane: "Can I be on top this time?"

Wilhelmina: "Don't be stupid."


Wilhelmina pushes Dwane back and straddles him. Later, Betty and Christina are shown under the bed. Betty texts Christina: "Two hours?" as the bottom of the bed moves up and down, hitting Christina in the head.


A nearly identical scenario prevailed on Big Shots.  In this case a reporter doing an expose on Duncan, after having sex with him once, seduces him again:


Reporter: "The other night wasn't all bad, was it?"

Duncan: "It certainly had its moments."

Reporter: "Why don't I remind you of my favorite one?"


The reporter pushes Duncan onto the bed and straddles him. The reporter's hips are visible as Duncan rests his hands on them. The camera pans down to show Brody on the floor beneath the bed.  The reporter moans "Oh, you feel so good!" as she and Duncan begin intercourse.


The casual viewer of this nearly-identical dreck is left to conclude that ABC’s writers must eat lunch together and swap plot ideas. But if so, the writers of ABC’s new show Cavemen must have gone hungry (or missed the “identical plot” memo) one day. In a reckless display of non-conformist novelty, the October 2nd premiere of Cavemen boldly defied the model, and showed sex taking place on a bunk bed -- with the third person above the copulating couple. So as not to deprive the new program’s half-dozen viewers of their warped thrills, in this case the individual watching the couple have sex was a little boy.


Cavemen did, however, conform to ABC’s practice of referring to breasts and genitalia multiple times per episode: one caveman discourages another from having sex with a “sapien” (normal human) by saying, “Keep your penis in your genus." Later, a caveman texts a woman, telling her he will be "eating sushi off your booty.“ Frequently, ABC seems to be playing a semantic game, endeavoring to evade accusations of sensationalism by using only “anatomically correct” references to bodily parts. The idea that this somehow is not gratuitous is inane. While it did not match Private Practice‘s 22 references to sperm (but then, what could?), Boston Legal’s October 2nd episode nevertheless managed multiple uses of “vagina” and “semen,” as well as a charming scene in which Denny tries to seduce his best friend’s lover, using a truly twisted form of reasoning: 


Denny: "Bottom line is he'd never be able to resist you for Gloria.  Those

pouty lips...come hither breasts.  The only way he'd be able to keep his hands off you is if you became involved with a close friend.  Say his best friend.  Say, me…Sleep with me.  For Alan."


Once again, however, Big Shots was the worst offender in this category, with Brody’s incessant references to his genitalia:


Brody: "Janelle decided how she wanted to spice up our sex life.  She wants me to wax my boys."

Duncan: "Your boys?"

Brody: "Yeah, my boys, down below?  Round and rounder."

Duncan: "Oh, your boys!  What'd you say?"

Brody: "Well, I already waxed my back for her birthday, so I told her no.  You know, the back is one thing, but the nuggets, that's a whole new deal…If I get my boys waxed, she'd bump sex night  to twice a week."


Brody later complains that, because his wife is out of town, he will have to have “his boys” waxed again. Additionally, the episode featured the following puerile dialogue in which Brody mentions a man who hates Duncan:


Duncan: "Few years back, I rear-ended his sister in a parking lot.  Never forgiven me."

Brody: "Maybe that's because neither of you were in your cars at the time.


Though not containing ABC’s sheer volume of smut, Fox managed to hold its own in the Sleaze Sweepstakes, almost solely through the contents of that exemplar of electronic excrescence, American Dad. The October 7th episode returned to one of Fox’s favorite themes: incest. Daughter Hayley poses nude for an art class. The “artwork” is used by her teenaged brother Steve as pornography as he masturbates to his own sister’s nude picture (he is unaware at the time that the painting is of his sister). Later, mother Francine hangs the nude picture up in the family’s dining room. And in the vomit-inducing September 30th episode, wife Francine demands a family vacation, saying: “We stay home and for the rest of our lives together every time you doze off I slam a book on your testicles!"; daughter Hayley and her boyfriend Jeff are shown dressed in bondage gear and attempting to assemble a torture device for their sexual pleasure – and when parents Stan and Francine walk in on them, Jeff asks Stan to strap him into the device; and Roger enters a sex club which features women and donkeys. The episode also features an adult cruise director attempting to seduce the teenaged Steve:


Becky, the cruise activities director runs over to Steve. Her breasts bounce and he ogles her.

Becky: "You're cute!"

Steve:  "Oh, in a ‘Harmless Little Brother’ kind of way, right?"

Becky: "No, in an ‘I've Taken A Lot of Boys' Virginity’ kind of way!”


Later, Becky boasts to Francine, “Your son is 14 going on me!" Most viewers would be appalled at such dialogue; but as the show enjoys joking about incest, it should come as no surprise that American Dad finds child molestation hilarious as well.


By comparison to the aforementioned networks, NBC was practically chaste. Even it, however, managed to work in mentions of pedophiliac internet sex on the October 2nd Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as depictions of promiscuous sex with anonymous partners on both the September 26th episode of Life and the October 3rd Bionic Woman. On Life, Dani Reese is shown getting out of bed with a strange man.  She is nude and the side of her breast is visible.  When the man asks, "Do you want to know my name," Reese replies, "If I wanted to know your name I would have asked you for it;" while on Bionic Woman Jamie, distraught over the death of her fiancé, states that “There’s no such thing as Mr. Right. From now on, it’s Mr. Right Now!" Jamie is about to have drunken sex in a bar restroom with a stranger, until she inadvertently uses her bionics and breaks his ribs.  


To television’s writers today, sex is never to be shown as an expression of love between individuals in a committed relationship – a situation which used to be considered the norm. Rather, the networks’ attitude towards the portrayal of sex seems to be summarized by a piece of dialogue from ABC’s Boston Legal:


Alan: "[That] was an affairThere's a big difference between that and a committed relationship."

Denny: "Yes. Affairs usually last longer." 


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff: Aubree Bowling, Caroline Schulenburg, Josh Shirlen, Katherine Kuhn and Keith White, under the direction of Dr. John Rattliff.

Click Here to Comment on this Column

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org  


TV Trends Archive 




JOIN US ON:          .

Parents Television Council, www.parentstv.org, PTC, Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting children against sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval, and Family Guide to Prime Time Television are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.