Those who run TV networks cannot seem to decide whether showing a violent TV episode after a real-life tragedy is a good idea or not.
It’s a standard, if cynical, ploy by a TV network: an episode filled with graphic violence is slated to air; a real-life tragedy happens; the network – fearing public backlash and accusations of being exploitative, pulls the episode…and then airs it anyway a week or two later.
This has happened again and again. After Newtown, Fox delayed airing a violent episode of Family Guy – for a week. After the Boston Marathon explosions, Fox pulled Family Guy episodes that joked about murder at the marathon from its website – but it had been happy to air the episodes to begin with. And the Sunday after the Boston Marathon, Family Guy still featured a scene involving gunplay blowing a character’s head off.
Fox is not the only offender. After the Boston Marathon explosions, ABC pulled a bomb-themed episode of Castle – yet aired it a week later. And NBC’s Hannibal pulled an episode about children killing other children -- but still aired another episode featuring gory serial murder, while simultaneously promoting the “kids kill kids” episode on its website.
This demonstrates that the networks don’t REALLY care about the feelings and sensitivities of their viewers – they’re just trying to avoid bad publicity. How does merely replacing one bombing/serial killer/violent story with another just as bad show the network as concerned, thoughtful, or sensitive?
If a particular episode is so graphic and violent as to be inappropriate one week after a real-life violent disaster, why is it suddenly okay to air the same episode two weeks later? If a TV program’s violence is so explicit and extreme that it might upset viewers, why is it EVER considered acceptable?
The truth is this: if a show is so violent or in such poor taste that the network chooses not to show it after a disaster, then it’s bad enough that it should never be shown at all.