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

Summer Brings Little Fun to Prime Time



With the doldrums of the summer season, the broadcast networks have filled the vast majority of their prime-time schedule with reruns. This was particularly evident in the past week. Even the little original programming the networks did show was questionable as regards its appropriateness for children. In the heat of summer, children often want to stay inside and watch TV even more than at other times of the year; yet the networks apparently felt little need to air shows tailored for a youthful audience.


On Tuesday, June 17th the Fox network subjected children to its prurient game show The Moment of Truth, during which a woman was asked such personally invasive questions as whether she would act in a pornographic movie and whether she has shared details of her current sex life with a former boyfriend. This program was followed by the appropriately-named Hell’s Kitchen, which unleashed a blizzard of f-bombs on impressionable youngsters in the audience. Lest those unfamiliar with Hell’s Kitchen think this an exaggeration, here is an actual piece of dialogue from the program, in which foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay burns his hand on a cooking pot:


 “Ahh! (bleeped f***)! (bleeped f***)! (bleeped f***)! Don't stop and look stupid like some thick cow!  (bleeped f***)! (bleeped f***)! Christina, the handle was over the flame! When the (bleeped f******) handle’s over the stove, please say something to somebody, yes? Now you're just acting like a (bleeped f******) idiot, yes? Look at me, I am (bleeped f******) serious now. If a handle is over the (bleeped f******) flame, say something to somebody, will you please? One more time and you’re (bleeped f******) finished. (bleeped f***)! Again! (bleeped f***)! I'm getting (bleeped f******) burned again! Christina! I've had enough! (bleeped f***)! I've burned my hand!  (bleeped f***)! (bleeped f***)!  (bleeped f***)! I'm getting (bleeped f******) burned again! (bleeped f***)!”


Clearly, Ramsay’s culinary brilliance does not extend to his vocabulary; but how many children, hearing this (even in its bleeped form) will gain the impression that such vulgar language is the norm?


Meanwhile, CBS filled out its schedule with awards programs – in addition to its sex-and-drug series Swingtown. While the awards programs were of course nowhere near as offensive as Swingtown (which has previously been discussed in this column…and undoubtedly will be again), nevertheless there were some questionable choices involved. The American Film Institute’s special selected the top ten films in various genres; there were many overtly bloody and violent scenes during the program’s discussion of Westerns, while the “romantic comedy” genre featured a clip from When Harry Met Sally in which Meg Ryan simulates orgasm.  This is unfortunate in that a program which showed clips from many famous films could have made for ideal family viewing; but the AFI selected clips which many parents would object to their children seeing.


But it was NBC which failed children and families the most in past weeks. NBC should be the best network for families, with its heavy slate of original talent-show programming; but while the programs’ premises are excellent, what actually airs contains material some parents would find objectionable.


A mild example of this was the Tuesday, June 16th episode of Nashville Star, which offers several aspiring country singers a chance at the big time. In format the program is similar to that of American Idol, even down to the banter between judges; however, on Nashville Star, that banter often seems to go a bit over the edge of appropriateness where younger viewers are concerned. In this episode, one judge criticized a contestant, then implied an improper relationship between the contestant and judge Jewel, saying, “I don't know if you mentored this kid or you made out with him for thirty minutes.” And later in the episode, judge Jeffrey Steele mocked contestant Tommy’s choice of song with the repeated words, “You are such a kiss-ass. I gotta say it again, you are such a kiss-ass…He's kissing your ass.” While such language is increasingly common both in music and in movies, many parents would consider it inappropriate for their children.


NBC continued its trend on Wednesday, June 18th’s episode of Celebrity Circus. In addition to some inappropriate language (and when did it become mandatory for every program in prime time to use words like “damn,” “hell” and “ass,” anyway?), the program also featured a segment in which former Brady Bunch star Christopher Knight sets himself on fire, goaded on by a clown who tells him, “I thought what we'd do, we take a stick of dynamite, light it, hand it to you, you stick it down your pants and blow your crotch out.” Knight did so, then sat on a burning bench. While fire-eating clowns are a traditional part of a circus, explosives down the pants are a new wrinkle…and one most parents probably wouldn’t appreciate their children seeing.


But the most egregious error on the part of NBC came during the Tuesday June17th America’s Got Talent.  In addition to a veritable burlesque striptease by the “Slippery Kittens,” viewers were also confronted with Britney Spears impersonator Derek Barry, whose act drew the following commentary from judge David Hasselhoff: “I'm questioning my sexuality here. You’re hot! But you’re the wrong sex.” This episode, incidentally, was rated TV-14 L. What a sad commentary it is that NBC is incapable of producing even talent shows and circus programs that are suitable for children to watch.


But ultimately, it is not the fault of NBC alone. For years, prime-time entertainment has slipped, bit by bit, down the slippery slope – a dirty word becoming commonplace here, lewd sex jokes going unremarked there, more violence being accepted everywhere – with the result that today, even in prime time on the airwaves owned by us all, practically nothing is totally free of unsavory content.


That this has happened is not only sad for our children; it is sad for us all.

TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


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.