Brought to you by the Parents Television
The Bizarre Sex Fall Season Continues
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.
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
Dwane: "Can I be on top this time?"
Wilhelmina: "Don't be stupid."
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
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."
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
Brody: "Maybe that's because neither of you were in your cars at the time.
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.
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 affair. There'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.