What the hell is going on with network TV anyway? Has the quest for the almighty sponsor’s dollar become the only motivating factor for what shows get put on the air. Is the race for ratings so damn important that network execs and programmers have to resort to scrapping the bottom of the barrel in poor taste to attract viewers? It used to be only Cable Networks did that. I tell you it’s really shameless!
Speaking of which Showtime’s series “Shameless” is a perfect example of tastelessness. Want to know what an extremely dysfunctional family is like? Just check out the Gallagher family on “Shameless” you won’t be disappointed, it is the epitome of crass. Showtime also has “Californication” and “House of Lies” which also cross the line on tastelessness. And wouldn’t you know it, they’re all on the same night, back to back. But hey, at least they’re on Showtime and not network TV. Yeah, I often wonder who watches this demented crap besides myself. That’s right, I watch these show. Hey, I like Frank Gallagher as portrayed by Frank H. Macy, he does a fine bit of acting and David Duchovny is Californication personified! But again they are on pay TV.
Needless to say, network TV is doing its worst to catch up and are certainly not far behind. In fact, all that’s missing is total nudity and the ‘F’ word. In the last year alone the networks have brought us the likes of “#!!*(shit) My Dad Says,””2 Broke Girls,””Two and a Half Men,” “The Playboy Club,””Good Christian Bitches,” “Don’t Trust the B—-(bitch) in Apt. 23” and “Mistresses”. All cross the line of good taste. Then of course there are “Revenge,”and “Scandal,”which are somewhat better, but still unethical. I remember when “Desperate Housewives” first began and was the talk of the town and considered much too provocative for network TV. Hell, if it came out today it would be considered mild compared to some of the newer shows.
We all know sex sells. Networks know it too. That’s why we’re inundated with tasteless programming inherently linked to sexual situations and humor, partial nudity and some very obvious sexual innuendos. It’s all over the networks. The real problem here is not the nature of the material being shown, but that it’s suitability for children and its availability. I remember a time when the more racy, adult fare wasn’t broadcast until 10pm. Then it became 9pm and sometimes even 8pm. “2 Broke Girls” is on at 8:30pm. Although the premise is rather innocent, two young women working as waitresses trying to start a cupcake business. However, it’s not the story lines that are the problem. The show is loaded with some very racy and sexually oriented one liners about masturbation, intercourse, orgasms, whatever! Funny? at times I suppose, but appropriate for children, no way. I could cite any number of examples but won’t, you can check out the show any Monday night and see for yourself.
Okay network execs, not all kids are in bed asleep by the magic hour of 9:00pm when you broadcast the more adult oriented programming. Some are still watching TV. But even if they weren’t, those promo ads you run all day long for these shows are pretty darn racy themselves and kids do see them! I’m no prude, but aren’t our kids exposed to enough already? Shouldn’t regular TV be a safe place for children? I think so. When I was growing up many of the networks offered children oriented TV from at least 3:00 -5:00 everyday. Now not a single one does. Networks rely on cable stations to keep the kids entertained, there’s no money in kid TV, besides it frees up valuable hours for adult talk shows and hours of news, not to mention all those money making commercial minutes.
We’ve come a long way from the Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best era where a kids could actually learn something about right and wrong, consequences, friends and family relationships. Sheriff John, Engineer Bill, the Mickey Mouse Club and a host of Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows were good enough for me and most baby boomers when we got home from school, but what do our kids have when they get home? A few series reruns, but otherwise there is really nothing on network TV after school. Kids must turn to cable for children programming. Yeah somehow Sponge Bob, NinjaGo, Johnny Bravo and Pokemon fall far short of what I would call quality afternoon fare for our kids.
Network TV is dying on the vine. They can’t compete with Showtime, HBO, Cinemax or some of the other cable networks. They need to realize this and stop trying to draw in the adult viewers with their ‘Scandalous’ programming. Perhaps the time is right for a return to good old, family(and I do mean family) oriented fare. I really believe people will readily embrace quality family entertainment on regular network TV. It shouldn’t be about the ratings but about quality programming. Yeah, like that will ever happen!