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Shows Safe for Kids…Or Not?



The PTC aims to constantly alert parents to TV programming which might be considered offensive or harmful to young children in the viewing audience. Certainly there is no dearth of such programming on prime-time broadcast television today. But even those shows clearly intended by the networks to appeal to families and children cannot always be considered suitable. Many of the programs have concepts which most parents would consider entertaining and safe for their children to watch; but these shows almost inevitably fall short of parental standards during the actual episodes themselves. 


For example, there is the July 1st episode of NBC’s Celebrity Family Feud. Airing at 8:00 p.m. ET, one would presume that this innocuous game show, with a pedigree reaching back to the 1970s, would be acceptable for children to watch. But one would be wrong; for on this episode, one team was the “Girls Next Door” – a group of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner’s sleep-in “girlfriends.” The opposition was the “family” of Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore, which allowed Hefner to make a double entendre appallingly inappropriate for prime time. Referring to Pastore’s TV show character, Hefner said, “I think [the girls] are going to do very well against Big Pussy.”  The show went on to ask, among other questions, what one would expect to find on Hefner’s bedside table. Hefner’s “girlfriends” smirkingly mentioned condoms, Viagra and Playboy magazine.  The July 8th episode of Celebrity Family Feud continued the sexual theme, as it featured the leads of the now-raunchy My Name Is Earl against minor actors who play the townspeople on the same show. All played the game in character, meaning that children in the audience were subjected to individuals such as strippers from “Club Chubby,” with “daytime hooker” Patty telling host Al Roker “No matter what happens tonight, for you, ten dollars!”


But mere sexual remarks, though inappropriate for kids, were as nothing compared to the demonstration that awaited children tuning in to the July 1st episode of America’s Got Talent. Airing at 9:00 p.m. ET and hosted by TV sleazemaster Jerry Springer, the show hit bottom when “performer” Busty Heart showed off her “talent”: crushing aluminum cans with her gigantic breasts. What messages about body image and appropriate behavior (let alone modesty) did the millions of young girls watching take away from this supposedly innocuous talent program?


Even the simplicity of a program celebrating dance is apparently not immune to the intrusion of questionable elements for children. Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance on July 10th made a point of airing Katy Perry’s song "I Kissed A Girl" in the 9 p.m. ET hour. This song is of parental concern because of the lyrics’ explicit endorsement of drunkenness and promiscuity:

“This was never the way I planned,
not my intention.
I got so brave,
drink in hand.
Lost my discretion
Its not what I'm used to.
Just wanna try you on….

No, I don’t even know your name,
it doesn't matter.
Your my experimental game,
just human nature.
It's not what good girls do.”

Seeing such otherwise child-appropriate programs intruded upon by sudden (and unexpected) moments of adult content has certainly caused more than one parent to cry out, “Why?”


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


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