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TOP 10 WORST

1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN/ranked #3 last season)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer chronicles the adventures of Buffy Summers, the latest in a long line of women endowed with exceptional strength and agility in order to fight vampires and demons.

Buffy ranks number one on the worst list because of its graphic violence and sex, often mixing the two with an underlying occultist element. In one episode near the end of the season, Willow murdered the man who shot and killed her lover, Tara. Willow, furious at the loss of her companion, bound the man to a tree, cast a spell that skinned him alive, and then incinerated him in a burst of flame.

Buffy's sexual content has also become more explicit. Buffy and Spike (a vampire) were shown having sex numerous times this season. In one episode, their lovemaking was so violent that the house they were in literally fell down around them. In the musical episode, oral sex was strongly suggested between Tara and Willow.

Adding insult to injury, Buffy airs during the family hour to a core audience of teenaged fans.

2) Off Centre (WB/first season)
From the creators of the teen sex comedy American Pie comes Off Centre, a sex-charged sitcom featuring roommates Euan and Mike. Euan is a British charmer with a reputation for sleeping with women, then casting them aside. Mike is more down-to-earth and has a steady girlfriend.

Episodes have contained plot lines centering on three-way sex and pornography, vulgar anatomical references (one episode, in which Euan wonders if he should be circumcised, employed the word "penis" ten times, in addition to various euphemisms for the body part), and frank sexual discussions.

3) Will & Grace (NBC/not ranked last season)
This comedy centers on the close friendship between Will Truman, a gay lawyer, and Grace Adler, a straight interior designer.

Given the series' basic premise, sexual content, both homo- and hetero-, is common. This season, Will & Grace continued its track record of pushing the envelope for sexual content on broadcast TV to the limits. Episodes this season included references to masturbation (Grace's boyfriend tells her, "I even looked through your underwear drawer. Found where you hide my, uh, competition"); genitalia (When Grace's boyfriend and Will have drinks at a gay bar, a waiter asks them, "Who ordered the Penis Colossus?"); and oral sex (Jack ties an apron featuring the phrase "Kiss the Cook" around his waist so that the words are directly in front of his groin. When Grace reads aloud what's printed on the apron, Jack says, "What? Cook? That's an o'? That doesn't make any sense. Who goes on a date hoping someone will kiss their cook?").

4) Friends (NBC/ranked #6 last season)
Friends focuses on six friends -- three men, three women -- in their thirties as they stumble through relationships and marriage in Manhattan. Friends continues to be one of the raciest sitcoms in prime time.

Much of the show's humor stems from sexual references or sexual situations. Episodes contain frequent references to the characters' promiscuous lifestyles, and frequently refer to pornography and kinky sexual practices. In one episode from early this season, Monica hired a stripper for her husband, Chandler, and later discovered that the stripper was a prostitute. In another, Monica rented pornography for Chandler as a Valentine's Day present. Unmarried Rachel had a baby with Ross, the result of a one-night stand. In addition, Friends frequently features foul language, making this series entirely inappropriate for its early time slot.

5) WWE Smackdown! (UPN/ranked #2 last season)
As documented in the PTC's 2001 study, The Seamy Squared Circle: Pro Wrestling: Less Offensive, But Still Offensive, the WWE has toned down some of the more offensive elements of Smackdown! since the program's debut in 1999. But that doesn't mean that this family-hour show is now appropriate for its time slot.

Sexual content on Smackdown! this season has included winking references to oral sex and prostitution as well as sexual innuendo and vulgar anatomical references. In and out of the ring, an aggressive tone runs through all the matches and storylines. Episodes of Smackdown! contain frequent non-wrestling violence and, occasionally, blood, though such material has been less graphic than in seasons past. Non-wrestling violence currently consists primarily of the use of foreign objects, such as folding metal chairs and folding tables.

Foul language is frequent on Smackdown! The most frequently used words are "hell" and "damn." Stronger words are usually bleeped out, but on one broadcast, the word "ass" was used 43 times, unedited.

6) Big Brother II (CBS/ranked #10 last season)
Summer 2001 brought the return of CBS's voyeuristic reality show, Big Brother. Although the first incarnation of Big Brother included frequent foul language and sex talk, Big Brother 2 raised the bar for vulgarity on this reality series. The contestants liberally used words like "ass," "bitch," and were constantly bleeped saying "s--t" and "f--k." Sexual activity was commonplace in the house, too. The contestants have participated in topless hot-tubbing, eaten strawberries and whipped cream off of each others' bodies, taken co-ed showers, and have even been shown having sex under the covers.

The most notorious incident from last season involved two drunken contestants, Krista and Justin. Justin, who was later found to have a police record for assault, held a butcher knife to Krista's throat and asked her, "Seriously, would you get mad if I killed you?"

7) C.S.I. (CBS/not ranked last year)
Las Vegas crime scene investigators lead the charge on each episode of C.S.I., using state-of-the-art science and technology as well as good-old-fashioned detective work, to determine the cause of death and the identity of the killer.

As with any show about violent crime, episodes of C.S.I. contain graphic depictions of death: decaying bodies, grisly crime scenes, and violent murders. C.S.I. earned its place on this list for dealing graphically with themes of incest and sadomasochism even though reruns of this program have been shown during the family hour. In one episode, investigators walk in on a man and woman during sex; the viewer later learns that the couple are brother and sister.

In another episode, a dead woman is shown lying on the coroner's slab. The camera zooms in on her exposed breast, focusing on her nipple. In the course of investigating the murder, detectives were sent to a sadomasochistic sex club, where a woman was shown beating a man's naked buttocks.

8) Temptation Island II (Fox/not ranked last season)
Temptation Island II is a reality show in which unmarried (but committed) couples are sent to an exotic locale to test the strength of their relationship. Once they arrive, they are separated from their loved ones and introduced to attractive singles who try to seduce them away from their partners. Temptation Island boasts more than a repugnant premise, which promotes a promiscuous lifestyle while devaluing true love and commitment. Episodes of Temptation Island II included two male participants receiving lap dances from female temptresses; male and female participants cavorting naked in the pool and on the beach (the nudity was barely obscured for broadcast); and implied sex.

9) That 70s Show (Fox/ranked #5 last season)
Set in a small Wisconsin town during the 1970s, That 70s Show follows a group of teens as they struggle with life's pressures, such as parents, sex, and drugs. The characters include Eric, an average kid from a blue collar family, and his friends Hyde, the political radical; Donna, Eric's girl-next-door love interest; the handsome but dimwitted Kelso; the pretty and snobbish Jackie; and Fez, a sexually frustrated foreign exchange student.

That 70s Show earns a spot on our "worst" list this year for its casual and irresponsible treatment of teen sex and drug use, which are depicted as risk and consequence-free. In one episode Hyde invites his high school coach to smoke pot with him. Another episode featured Kelso making regular visits to a sperm bank to earn money.

10) Boston Public (Fox/ranked #1 last season)
Boston Public's descent from first to tenth place on the "worst" list is a testament to how much the show has toned down.

Boston Public, which centers on the students and faculty of an inner city high school, caught our attention last year because of over-the-top story lines centering on student-teacher relationships. Even early in the 2001-2002 season, the show continued to exhibit the same level of raunchy sexual content and foul language.

In the second half of the year, however, Boston Public changed tone dramatically. The series began to deal with issues such as eating disorders, the use of performance-enhancing drugs, drunk driving, sociolinguistics, and street violence with greater restraint, sensitivity, and responsibility. Some sexual innuendo, occasional violence, and foul language still are present in the show, but are not as common as they were earlier in the season.

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