So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show?
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Rating: TV-PG DSV
Would a parent want
their child to be exposed to discussions of brutal murder and rape?
Unfortunately, the October 2nd episode of Boston Legal did
expose children to just those things. The episode was rated TV-PG with the D, S
and V descriptors. A TV-PG rating suggests that the episode contains some
material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children; that
parents may want to watch the episode with the child; and that the theme
of the program may call for parental guidance.
description in mind, let’s look at supposed “PG” material:
Jerry questions a
coroner, trying to establish the fact that the murder victim could have had
consensual sex with the suspect before she was killed.
Jerry: "Do you have any medical findings that point to my client as the
Coroner: "His semen was in the woman."
Jerry: "That's evidence of sex, not murder."
Coroner: "Evidence of a rape."
Jerry: "Did your findings conclude a rape had occurred, doctor?"
Coroner: "There was vaginal bruising."
Jerry: "Minimal vaginal bruising, according to your report, which could be
consistent with consensual intercourse. Am I correct?"
Coroner: "I suppose."
Later, during a
courtroom scene, two gigantic photographs of the murder victim’s corpse are
displayed on easels. The body lies on the ground, with its eyes and mouth open.
One of the pictures is a close-up of the murdered woman’s face.
Brad questions a
Officer: "A neighbor saw the custodian, Joseph Washington, entering the premises
around 5 p.m. Upon searching his locker, we found traces of blood that
ultimately matched that of the victim. Upon questioning of the defendant, he
admitted to raping and murdering Mrs. Rivers. DNA analysis eventually
positively identified the semen as his."
Officer: "No. He was seen entering her apartment around the time of the
murder. So our immediate focus was on him. Once the semen was determined to be
his and the blood on his locker was determined to be hers, he became our only
suspect. And he confessed."
According to the TV
ratings guidelines, this is material that “many parents may want to watch with
their younger children.” A discussion about a brutal rape and murder;
discussion of semen being found in the victim; vaginal bruising; discussion of
how the defendant was having an affair with the victim; all this warrants a mere
What would a rating
of TV-14 suggest? It would suggest that the program “contains some material
that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14.”
rating that Boston Legal did receive, apparently the entertainment
industry feels that the discussion of rape and murder is suitable for children
of all ages—as long as a parent is present.
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