CW's COVID Programming Reeks of Desperation

Written by PTC | Published August 19, 2020

The CW’s fall season got off to an early start with the debut this week of Dead Pixels, a British import about a group of three adults who can only be called adults in the loosest sense of the word.

Meg, Nicky and Usman are committed gamers. So much so that their entire lives revolve around “Kingdom Scrolls,” the elaborate, collaborative, online fantasy game they play together. They neglect diet, responsibility and social lives to play.

Usman is a married father with two small children. When his wife leaves him alone with the children, he dismissively refers to it as “childcare” rather than “parenting.” It soon becomes clear why. He is more invested in his game than in his children. The youngest he leaves in a playpen with a plywood top on it – effectively a cage. The older child he leaves to fend for herself. He tells his friends “So here's the thing they never tell you about childcare. It's [bleep] easy." He breathes a heavy sigh of relief when his wife returns home and he is finally “free.”

Meg is desperate for sex. Not a relationship. Just sex. When she does attempt a social life, her fantasy game world always interferes.

Nicky doesn’t even make a pretext of trying to have a life outside of gaming. It’s all he lives for.

Within the first two minutes of the series premiere, there are no less than five bleeped obscenities, making Dead Pixels a strange choice for the 8:00 time slot on a teen-targeted broadcast network otherwise populated with superheroes and comic-book characters. In fact, there were 28 bleeped obscenities in the 22-minute episode, most often “f**k,” as well as crude anatomical references and sexual innuendo, like:

Meg: "Because Alison set me up on a date with a man called Dale, and I am this close. Seriously, I can sniff [bleep]."
Nicky: "I see, well, while you're up to your gills in [bleep] and [bleep], we are under siege."

Meg: "My vagina is like a rare Penny Black [bleep]."

Meg: "Nobody panic, but there's a new guy in the office. He's here right now, he's like 10 meters away. And he is hot as balls. Oh, boys, I am feeling a stirring in the nubbin."
Usman: "Oh, geez, not the nubbin."
Meg: "I'm telling you, my female gonad has awakened from its slumbers."
Meg: "…I'm hitting the bogs because I am in the mood for some rubbin' of the nubbin."

Meg: "Nicky, I want this guy to stomp me. I want him to demolish my entire downtown area. I want him to gentrify me."

Meg: "Fine, he's a clacksman. He still has meat between his legs."

Meg: "So I met a guy at work who I like in the sense that I want to smash myself relentlessly into his privates."

Meg: "But also, do need to feed the beast in the basement, Alison, 'cause she needs her nutrients and she is growling."

Even critics agree Dead Pixels is a mismatch for the CW network. Mediapost TV critic Adam Buckman writes,

In “Dead Pixels,” the first mention of this woman’s obsession (yes, even more than her apparent obsession with this fictional video game) comes just after two minutes into the episode, and the subject then never ceases to be talked about.

Some of the dialogue is delivered in her workplace within earshot of others. It should go without saying, but in today’s world this kind of talk in the workplace is so socially unacceptable (indeed, it is a fireable offense) that TV shows positioned as satires of real-life situations should avoid it.

The dialogue about sex and this woman’s vagina is in fact so graphic that one wonders how on Earth this show ended up on The CW, which is a network aimed at teens (both young and old) along with young adults.

This show would appear to be so out of sync with the rest of the content on The CW that you have to wonder if anyone at The CW bothered to watch it before blithely deciding to put it on TV.

That decision, whether rendered consciously or not, hints at desperation…

If Dead Pixels is a trial-run for how the broadcast networks will fill dead airtime during the COVID crisis, we’re all in for a bumpy ride this fall.

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