So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show?
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Rating: TV-PG DLV
“What say we kill
some evil sons of bitches and we raise a little hell?”
With these words to
his brother Sam, the character Dean establishes the premise of the CW’s
horror/detective series Supernatural. But this program is no humorous,
gentle Ghostbusters imitator. Suiting their actions to Dean’s words, Sam
is shown using a flamethrower-like device to incinerate an enemy; Dean fires a
pistol at a ghost, causing it to disintegrate; Bella shoots Sam in the shoulder;
Sam complains, “I’m busting my ass trying to keep you alive, Dean”; and Sam
shoots a woman directly in the forehead, her head jerking back as her eyes and
skull glow infernally. She then stares blankly at Sam, the bloody bullet hole in
her forehead visible, then slumps to the ground, dead. And all this happens in
the program’s first few minutes -- before the current episode’s storyline
What age does the
CW network consider appropriate for this bloody, dark, occult-themed mayhem?
Why, seven and up,
Here is how the TV
Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board defines the “TV-PG” rating (emphasis
Parental Guidance Suggested
This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for
younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children.
The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program
contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual
situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
Following are some
more examples of the “moderate violence” and “suggestive dialogue” shown at 9:00
p.m. ET (that’s 8:00 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones)
on the November 8th episode of Supernatural:
A woman taking a shower hears a
sound, opens the shower door and peers out. Seeing nothing, she resumes her
shower. Suddenly a clothed male arm grabs her around the neck, strangling
her. The woman’s face, contorted in pain, is pressed against the glass, as
the mysterious figure slams her repeatedly against the shower’s glass walls.
The woman chokes, and her dead body slowly slides down to the floor as evil,
demonic laughter is heard.
A ghost with a greenish face and
wet hair appears in Peter’s car and glares at him. The ghost touches Peter’s
face. Water starts shooting out of Peter’s mouth. More and more water gushes
out as Peter makes choking and gurgling noises. Peter frantically claws at
his dashboard and car door, trying to get out, then collapses with face
against steering wheel as he dies an excruciating death by drowning, the
water filling his lungs.
If all this violence is not sufficient for young viewers, CW has thoughtfully
added several instances of sexual innuendo as well: when Bella mentions a “Hand
of Glory” (an occult object), Dean smirks, "A Hand of Glory? I think got one of
those at the end of my Thai massage last week!"; as Dean appears wearing a
tuxedo, Bella looks him over approvingly and says, "You know, when this is over,
we really should have angry sex"; and Sam is forced to dance with an elderly --
and randy -- woman, who gropes him (below camera range) and squeals, "Oh! You're
just firm all over!"
violence nor the language, innuendo, or relentlessly dark tone on
Supernatural would be extreme for adult viewers. But then why isn’t the
program rated appropriately for an adult audience?
By rating this
program TV-14 (perhaps with a V and L descriptor), the CW would ensure that the
V-Chip would block it from younger viewers. This, supposedly, is what the
television ratings system is all about. But because each network rates its own
programs, subject to no outside opinion or authority, the ratings are a
meaningless sham. Networks consistently under-rate their own programs, because
by doing so they can lure more – and younger – viewers, thus making a mockery of
the V-Chip…and their own rating system.
feels that unless a program shows a fork sticking out somebody’s brain or
entrails spilling out of their body, it does not warrant a rating of TV-14.
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
For more information about the TV ratings,