In a true testament to the ineffectiveness of the TV ratings system, the April
26th episode of Ugly Betty took ratings-conscious viewers off
guard with its intensely suggestive dialogue and sexual themes. Though it bore a
TV-14 rating, the episode had no descriptors to warn viewers of the smarmy
content to be found on the program.
The episode opened
with Betty’s sister climbing through her window to hide from her father the fact
that she had spent the night with a man. Giddily, she explains to Betty that
she doesn’t know if she loves him or if she just loves him naked. The show
continued with Wilhelmina sleeping with her boss to gain power in her
workplace. Wilhelmina rolls her eyes when the man takes out a bottle of Viagra
and asks if she wants to have sex again. Later, a model is ecstatic when she is
offered a job posing for a Brazilian magazine, because she has already has a
Brazilian wax (which includes the entire pubic area).
In a subplot to the
episode, Amanda, an employee at the magazine, finds herself attracted to a
flamboyantly homosexual fashion designer. Upon meeting him she exclaims, “If I
were a gay guy I would so tap that.” Later she disrobes in front of him, only
to discover that he is not gay -- the sight of her naked body causes him to have
an erection. The two are later shown in bed after intercourse.
inappropriate plot involved the show’s transsexual, Alexis, who has recently
undergone a sex change from man to woman. When seduced by an attractive
Brazilian man she refuses to go out with him, because she hasn’t been with a man
sexually since becoming a woman. When she confides in Wilhelmina she is told,
“Oh Alexis, what are you waiting for? Sooner or later someone's going to have
to put the key in the ignition."
This episode is a
perfect demonstration of the fact that producers of TV shows cannot be trusted
to accurately assign ratings to programs. Such a program’s rating should have
been tagged with the “S” descriptor for depictions of sex, and the “D”
descriptor for sexual dialogue. Without such descriptors, a V-Chip – the
networks’ justification for showing smut – is ineffective. But even with
appropriate ratings, shows featuring this level of sexual dialogue and content
have no place in the 8 o’clock “Family Hour” of prime-time television. For
subjecting children and families to its sniggering sleaze, Ugly Betty is
our pick for Worst of the Week.