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By Katherine Kuhn


Boston Legal on ABC

10:00 p.m. EST

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.


With that 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 killer?"

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 police officer:


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."


Katie questions the officer:


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 TV-PG DSV?


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.” 


Considering the 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 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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