TV’s Writers on Strike, But Sex
By Christopher Gildemeister
As the TV writers’ strike drags on, prime-time
broadcast TV becomes ever more mired in an endless cycle of reruns and
“reality” shows. When the strike began the networks held back a few episodes
of their programs, and some are showing them now. Others had programs that
were always intended to premiere at midseason, and some such shows are now
Unfortunately, the programming appearing in the
last week is not substantially different from that which has gone before.
NBC continued its obsession with strippers,
giving viewers of the network the fourth stripper-themed program in as many
weeks; from the
tassel-twirling stripper scenes on
My Name Is Earl and
Las Vegas, to the
nearly full-frontal nudity of a later
Las Vegas episode, to the latest example: strippers on
Friday Night Lights.
On the February 1st episode of
Friday Night Lights, teenagers
Matt and Tim are shown drinking beer at a strip club. As strippers
pole-dance before them, Tim recruits one stripper (clad in a tiny panty and
garter belt) to give him a lap dance. The girl dances directly before Matt
as the teens continue to drink.
This was a particularly unfortunate and sad
choice on the part of NBC. Friday Night
Lights has been lauded for its positive portrayal of a small-town
high school football team. Unlike programs like the CW’s
Gossip Girl, which features
ultra-wealthy teens hopping from bed to bed and using drugs,
Friday Night Lights portrays its
teenagers and their families in a genuine fashion, with its characters
confronting realistic problems – and facing realistic consequences for bad
decisions. While some teens certainly drink, and some may visit strip clubs,
it is a sign of the coarsening of TV (and the increasing acceptability among
entertainment industry insiders) that the program felt it necessary to
include such material. Given the obsession with strip clubs seen across the
NBC network, the inclusion of this scene could very well have been intended
to “spice up” a heretofore down-to-earth program. One can only hope that the
program retains its more realistic focus and does not succumb to NBC’s
apparent desire to feature strippers on as many shows as possible.
Meanwhile, Fox programming flowed through a
similar vein. While the Super Bowl happily spared viewers another episode of
Family Guy and
Prison Break and
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
continued their blood-soaked violence, and
The Moment of Truth humiliated
yet more contestants.
But perhaps most unsettling was the January 29th
episode of House, M.D. In the
episode’s main story, a woman suffers from paralysis. As House looks for a
cause, he questions the woman’s daughter, with whom the woman has a policy
of absolute honesty:
House: "What's her favorite way to have
Jane: "She used to like to be on top. Now she
likes to be on her stomach so they can't see her scars."
The idea of an eleven-year-old girl being privy
to the intimate details of her mother’s sex life is more than a little
disturbing, but is typical of House. Far worse, however, was the episode’s
secondary plot. Another woman comes to House and asks him to cure a
mysterious rash. House responds with his typically brusque and graphic
manner, deducing that the woman is a prostitute, and furthermore that she
has sex with animals:
House: "Do you do a donkey show? I'm not
curious. It matters."
Woman: "It's a donkey or a mule. I can never
House: "Wow that's a creepy smile. I bet the
donkey's is even creepier...
Antibiotic cream for you and a love glove for
Francis. You'll both be fine."
Woman: "You should come see the show. I think
you'd like it."
House: "Sorry, I hate Westerns."
Most people wouldn’t find bestiality a subject
for humorous banter with their physician. But then, most people don’t have
lives that resemble the programming on Fox.
As a final fillip, House later sees the woman at
a church play, where she is portraying the Virgin Mary…riding a donkey. Even
more offensive, if possible, is the fact that this episode was clearly
intended to air at Christmas, but was delayed by Fox because of the writer’s
The strike continues…but the effects of
Hollywood’s writers and their love of extreme sex, violence, profanity and
irreverence continue to be seen on all our television screens.