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By Katherine Kuhn


Family Guy on Fox (9:00 p.m. ET)

Rating: TV-14 DL


Are animated television programs treated the same when it comes to content rating as live-action shows?  In terms of dialogue and language, perhaps -- but when sex and violence are portrayed, the entertainment industry hides behind animation.


Take the September 9th episode of Family Guy (originally aired on January 29, 2006). The program had content that would have warranted all four descriptors -- but only received two.  Though the show is meant to be a comedy for older audiences, if a parent tried to protect their 14-year-old by programming the television’s V-Chip to block shows with sex and violence, sex and violence would be exactly what the teen saw in this episode.


Let’s look at the episode’s sexual content:


Peter states that “Sunday is my porn night.” The viewer then sees Peter naked and surrounded by people. Peter says “Oh yeah, you’re my Chinese Lois,” during which it is implied that Peter is performing some self-gratifying act in a public space.


In the following scene, Tom Brady is showering at the Griffin’s home.  Lois drills a hole in the wall so that she can look at Tom naked in the shower.  Lois and Meg get into a fight when Meg wants to look, and Lois tells Meg that she “wouldn’t even know what to do with ‘it’”—‘it’ referring to Tom’s genitalia.  Baby Stewie then walks in and looks through the hole at Tom showering, and apparently is delighted by what he sees. 


And as if a mother, a teenager and a baby spying on a naked man for clear sexual reasons didn’t warrant an “S” descriptor, Peter then jumps in the shower with Tom and tells him that it’s ok that they shower together, because they are on the same football team.  Peter then chases the other man around the shower while both are still naked. 


Blatant sexual gestures don’t warrant the “S” descriptor?  Both of the above mentioned scenes are more than intense enough to require the use of the “S” descriptor. If the same incidents happened on a non-animated series, there would be no question that use of the “S” descriptor would be warranted.


Now to the violent content:


Stewie goes to collect money from Brian, who lost a bet.  When Brian tells Stewie he needs more time, Stewie tells him he has 24 hours.  The next morning, Stewie tries to collect again and Brian still doesn’t have the money.  Stewie finishes the orange juice he has in a glass, then breaks the glass over Brian’s eyes in a fit of rage.  Brian’s eyes begin to bleed and there are apparent shards of glass sticking out of his head as he falls to the floor.  Once Brian is on the floor, Stewie begins to kick him repeatedly, then gets a towel bar and begins beating Brian with that, while exclaiming, “Where’s my money?  Where’s my money, Brian?”  Brian, lying battered on the floor, tells Stewie that he’ll get him his money.


Content such as this would most definitely warrant the “V” descriptor on any  live-action series — why should this program be treated any differently?  What is most appalling is that this is not the only scene of graphic violence in this episode. Later, Stewie follows Brian, pushes him down the stairs and beats Brian with a golf club, again demanding his money.  Stewie then pulls out a gun and shoots Brian in both kneecaps, causing him to bleed profusely.  In his last act of violence, Stewie pulls out a flamethrower and sets Brian on fire.


The viewer is constantly bombarded with sexual situations and violence throughout this episode.  Clearly, the content in this episode would have warranted all of the content descriptors, “D” “S” “L” and “V,” so why were the “S” and “V” descriptors left off?  Just because Family Guy is an animated show does not mean it should be exempt from accurate rating.


If you agree that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at tvomb@usa.net and let them know that the TV ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate content.    


For more information about the TV ratings, please visit http://www.tvguidelines.org/contact.asp


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