So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show?
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Do NOT push play if you don't want to see the explicit video!!!
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that the TV
ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate
information about the TV ratings, please visit