So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show?
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Even before the
first commercial break, it was clear that the premiere episode of ABC’s new
drama Private Practice was misrated.
A spin-off of the
hit show Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice’s heavily-hyped premiere
episode supposedly told the story of Dr. Addison Montgomery’s choice to relocate
and change her life. In fact, the episode was about sperm -- and the many
creative ways to describe its collection. The episode was littered with dialogue
about collecting semen in a cup, extracting semen from a corpse in order to
impregnate the mistress of the deceased man, a discussion of seeing Addison
naked, and a statement that one doctor is a sex addict.
The episode’s plot
revolved around a couple, Ken and Leslie, who were trying to get pregnant.
Because Leslie is having difficulty conceiving, the couple turns to Oceanside
Wellness Group for help. Ken is required to produce a sperm sample, leading to
crass dialogue like:
Ken: "Put my boys in a cup! We're gonna get Leslie pregnant."
Leslie: "I'm ovulating, finally."
Sam: "Uh, congratulations. That's great."
Ken: "I've never done it in a cup before."
And as if
discussion about ejaculating into a cup weren’t enough, at one point the viewer
hears the patient moaning while “giving a sperm deposit.” Naomi, Addison,
Sam, Cooper, Pete, and Violet are all talking together when they hear Ken
moaning in the room where he is attempting to produce a “deposit”:
Cooper: "Somebody's getting happy."
Naomi: "No, Mr. Wilson is giving a sperm deposit."
Sam: "That's a loud deposit."
yells for a doctor, saying that she was just “trying to help him get in the
mood, and now he’s not moving!” Ken is taken to the hospital, where he is
Leslie: "We were going to have a baby. He was going to be a father. Uh...I, I
want his sperm."
Sam: "Uh, he didn't get a chance to make his donation before he died."
Leslie: "You can take it from him now."
Leslie: "I want his sperm. I want Ken's sperm, now!"
continues throughout the entire episode. The viewer eventually learns that
Leslie is Ken’s mistress, and that his wife (soon to be ex-wife -- his wife was
“divorcing Ken’s sperm,” as one of the characters so delicately puts it), did
not want Leslie to have the sperm.
Over the course of
the episode, the word “sperm” or a reference to sperm was used 22 times. But
according to ABC, discussion about ejaculating into a cup, and then
hearing the act being performed, and then a woman asking for a
dead man’s sperm, is not “intense” enough to warrant the “D” descriptor,
indicating sexual dialogue, in the episode’s rating.
Practice premiere’s TV-14 rating gave parents no warning of the constant and
consistently intense sexual dialogue that this episode contained. If you agree
that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings
advisory board at
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