Top 10 Best & Worst
Family Shows on Network Television
1999-2000 TV Season
TOP 10 BEST
Touched By An Angel
(CBS/ranked #2 last season)
Consistently ranked in the Nielsen Top 20, CBS's family drama
about three angels who help mortals on Earth continues to provide
pro-family, faith-based entertainment each week. This season's episodes
dealt with a wide assortment of difficult issues -- ranging from slavery in
the Sudan to religious conflict in Northern Ireland to the dangers of
Internet pornography -- with sensitivity and a strong moral sense.
(WB/ranked #1 last season)
The WB's popular family drama about a mild-mannered
minister and his large
family continues to be the highest-rated show on the network. The Camden
family forms a strong support system for one another as the teenagers face
peer pressure and contend with difficult issues including premarital sex
and drug use. The reverend and his wife provide wise counsel along with
love and understanding for their brood each week, providing a healthy
picture of an American family. 7th Heaven manages to provide moral
solutions to tough issues facing teenagers without seeming preachy or
heavy-handed. Additionally, unlike most TV series, 7th Heaven shows
the consequences of reckless and irresponsible behavior.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
ABC's smash hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has enjoyed sky-high ratings because of its multi-generational appeal.
Millionaire combines suspense, competition, and the possibility of great rewards without pitting man against man, as many of its game-show imitators do, and without the foul language, sex, and violence rampant on other, less successful prime time shows.
Millionaire also reinforces the value of education.
4) Sabrina the Teenage Witch
(ABC/ranked #7 last season)
continues to be highly popular with adolescent and
pre-adolescent audiences. But the series' popularity need not concern
parents. Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Charmed-
all supernatural thrillers aimed at teenage audiences-there are no occult
elements or dark themes in Sabrina. Episodes rarely (if ever)
contain any material that parents might find objectionable and generally
conclude with a lesson or moral that reinforces positive values, such as
the importance of honesty, friendship, and hard work. The series will
continue next year on the WB as Sabrina heads to college.
5) Early Edition
(CBS/ranked #5 last season)
Virtues such as heroism and compassion were celebrated each week on Early
Edition. Gary Hobson learned of the day's news before it happens, and
rather than use the information for personal gain, he tried to prevent
tragedies and help others. Early Edition fostered a sense of community
responsibility and never featured gratuitous sex, graphic violence, or
foul language. Sadly, Early Edition will not be returning to the
CBS line-up next fall.
(UPN/ranked #8 last season)
When reports surfaced last fall that Moesha would be getting more
"gritty and topical," many feared this really meant the show
would lose its family-friendly focus. Indeed, the plots have featured more
adult content, such as the discovery of Frank's previous marital
infidelity and the sexual struggles Moesha and her friends are facing at
college. However, the series has never lost its focus on a strong family
unit, or its emphasis on doing what's right and taking responsibility for
one's actions. Moesha remains a strong family show precisely
because it demonstrates the love and commitment a family needs to make it
through both good times and bad.
7) Boy Meets World
(ABC/ranked #10 last season)
Although it has contained more sexually suggestive humor this season than
in seasons past, Boy Meets World remained one of the very few
series on TV to promote premarital abstinence. Even in its final season,
the show was consistent with this standard -- Corey and Topanga waited
until after their wedding to consummate their long relationship. Episodes
consistently reinforced positive messages, such as the importance of
family and the value of education.
Although short-lived, the standout moral lessons and strong parental roles made
Safe Harbor one of the most family-friendly series of the season. The father, a widowed sheriff raising his three sons with the help of his mother, was firm but fair and took a strong stance on issues ranging from the importance of school attendance to honesty to premarital abstinence.
freshman teen drama succeeded where so many others have failed in the past
--providing entertainment for adolescents without resorting to sexually charged
plots. The series revolves around three teenaged aliens whose identity is hidden
from the authorities with the help of their human friends. Though the science
fiction plots are often dark, the series contains no graphic violence, or
(CBS/ranked #9 last season)
Television veteran Bill Cosby continued his long track record of providing
family-friendly entertainment in his latest TV series, Cosby, which
ended its long run this season. Though not a "kid" show, Cosby's
plots were always clean and often dealt with difficult issues such as
homelessness and drug addiction in a timely and sensitive way. This season
emphasized the importance of an education and dedication to learning as the
series focused more on Hilton and Ruth's daughter Erica and family friend
Griffin in their roles as educators.
TOP 10 WORST
Airing at 8:00 on Thursdays, Smackdown!
exposes children to obscene, raunchy, and violent content on a weekly
basis. Regularly featured characters included a pimp and his "Ho
Train," a sex addict, and a porn star. Episodes contained women
mudwrestling topless, homosexual innuendo, and drug references. One plot
line centered on a wrestler's sexual dalliance with a 70-year-old woman.
Violent content included characters being beaten with chairs, poles,
pipes, 2x4s, sledgehammers, street signs, chains, a piano top, and
hockey sticks, getting smashed through tables and windows, getting run
down by a limo, rammed by a semi truck, and being set on fire. Foul
language included all the standards and audible use of the s-word, and
visible (though not audible) uses of "f--k" and "motherf--ker."
(Fox/not ranked last season)
Fox's Family Guy was unbelievably foul. This
low-rated, raunchy, animated series centered on a couple, their two
teenagers, and their precociously evil infant son. In its first full
year, the show's creators managed to include nearly every conceivable
obscenity, and references to every imaginable sexual perversion from
incest to necrophilia. Series staples included nudity and references to
pornography and masturbation. One episode this spring featured Peter
Griffin giving his adolescent son his entire stockpile of pornographic
magazines. The fact that Family Guy aired during the family hour
makes it that much worse. Institutions such as the church and family
were held up to ridicule on a near-weekly basis. Fortunately, The Family
Guy was not picked up for next season.
A critics' favorite and a ratings bomb, Action
lasted only about six weeks, but it didn't waste any time making a
lasting impression. This series gave viewers an inside look at the dark,
seamy underbelly of Hollywood by following the exploits of Peter Dragon,
a sleazy, self-centered producer who would unleash a torrent of bleeped
obscenities at the slightest provocation. Action's action more
often than not took place within the confines of the characters'
Whether TV mirrors reality
or vice versa, Action is show business at its worst, entertaining
American audiences with deceit, sex objectification, backstabbing,
bribery, homosexuality, flagrant promiscuity, and, of course, filthy
language. One episode last season highlighted finding erotic pleasure
with a frog…maybe it's just a sign that Hollywood action has gotten
about as low and dirty as possible.
(WB/not ranked last season)
dark occult themes, and bizarre and scary sex scenes permeated the
family hour in this show intended for teen audiences. Although Buffy
was relatively clean in seasons past -- containing only fantasy violence
and occasional sexual innuendo-- episodes this season regularly included
one-night stands, heavy doses of sexual innuendo, sexualized violence,
and dark, occultist elements. Violent scenes including vampires, demons,
werewolves, and other creatures make this dark fantasy series a
nightmare for parents. All sex among these young college freshmen is
portrayed almost exclusively as romantic or fun, with no reference made
to the consequences of such behavior.
Although it only aired six times, this cop show fully
deserves its place among the worst shows from last season. Incredibly
foul-mouthed, The Beat used more obscenities in its short run
than most network series do over an entire season. Violence was brutal
and included graphic depictions of death and rape. Sex and sexual
innuendo were mainstays of the show, ranging from characters viewing
pornographic magazines featuring pregnant lesbians to an officer having
sex with a woman who handcuffed herself to a bed during an arrest to
brief images of a woman's bare breasts during her rape/murder.
(Fox/ranked #4 last season)
The whimsical tone of Ally McBeal may distract viewers
from how sexually raunchy the series actually is. Plotlines this season
have also included many anti-religious elements, such as a minister
assuring Ally that "Jesus was maybe a little off the mark"
with the Sixth Commandment, and another using the confessional as an
occasion for introducing a smutty monologue. Allusions to sex and male
genitalia are pervasive, and casual sex is a constant obsession of the
(ABC/not ranked last season)
For sheer vulgarity it's hard to beat Norm. This
season Norm "joked" about, among other topics, penis
size, pornography, prostitution (the cast of regular characters includes
a reformed hooker), necrophilia, doctors sodomizing their anesthetized
patients during surgery, and pedophilia. One episode early this season
had Norm asking a young boy if he's looking for a father figure in order
to impress a woman he's interested in. Norm asks, "Would you like
that, Billy? A strong, adult man?" Billy asks, "Are you coming
on to me?" When Billy later ridicules Norm in front of the woman
he's interested in, Norm asks, "Have you ever even had sex?"
Billy retorts, "Not with boys like you have."
This content is all the more
obnoxious when one considers that Norm aired at 8:30 for most of
last season and will be airing in the old TGIF time slot on ABC Fridays
Drew Carey Show
(ABC/ranked #6 last season)
Long among television's crudest sitcoms, Drew
Carey continues to ratchet up its distasteful and inappropriate
content. Centering on a disgruntled department store personnel manager,
Drew and his similarly crass social circle escape the stress and strain
of the working world by finding comfort in each other's company-drinking
beer and joking about their sex lives, or lack thereof. The series
consistently and shamelessly exploits foul language, sexual promiscuity
and perversions, and otherwise offensive behavior to elicit a few
laughs. This season, Drew Carey has focused increasingly on the
bizarre sexual proclivities of the main characters. Masturbation,
partial nudity, and allusions to genitalia have become regular elements.
By far, the most disturbing plot device this season has been Oswald's
ill-founded fear that Lewis might be having sex with a child, an
attraction he termed "jungle-gym fever."
(NBC/ranked #3 last season)
This sitcom about an unusual best-friends
combination -- a straight woman and a gay man -- serves up large amounts
of both hetero- and homosexual humor. Concerning the latter, most
notable are the numerous wisecracks about the sex life of Will's
flamboyant gay friend Jack. For example, when Jack complains that he
"can't pee in public bathrooms," Will wonders, "Why not?
You do everything else in them." In another episode, a lap dance
from a female stripper arouses Jack, a response that worries him until
he learns the stripper is a transsexual-in-the-making who, not yet
having had all the necessary surgery, remains, for the time being, male
from the waist down. "Thank God!" Jack exclaims. "I'm
still gayer than Christmas!"
Another 8:00 offering of sex and foul language from
the WB, this series focuses on the battles between popular and unpopular
high school sophomores. In addition to the high levels of sexual
innuendo and sexual activity found on many teen series, Popular
added more disturbing aspects, such as 15-year-old characters pole
dancing at a strip club, another young teen fantasizing about her male
teacher taking off his pants, and one character walking in on her mother
having sex on the living-room floor with her boyfriend. The parents on
this show are either uninvolved or act like adolescents themselves. One
mother provides "comic relief" in the form of verbally abusing
her daughter, whom she considers fat, homely, and stupid.