I made the mistake of tuning into CBS for distraction the other day when I walked on the treadmill due to bad weather outside. I should have known better, as I had seen bits and pieces of their Monday night line-up before when looking for something to watch and was not impressed with those shows. This time, however, after I heard the first couple of vulgar comments-I refuse to call them jokes since there was nothing funny about them- I wondered if the writing could get much more offensive. Well, yes, it could. And did.
As I write this, I am having a hard time finding the words to explain how the content of these shows made me feel. I find some situations funny that other people don’t, I know that styles of humor have changed over the years, and I know that humor is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but this so-called humor was so disheartening to me, so demoralizing, so crass, crude, and disgusting, I simply could not let it pass without taking a stand against it. The problem with taking a stand is that I will risk offending some of my readers. It also means that to prove my point, I have to know what I am talking about, which means I had to watch more of this kind of garbage for evidence. And there was plenty of it to gather.
Dear readers, at this point I have to warn you that the next paragraph gets rather graphic, so you may want to take my word for it that the content in these shows was grossly unacceptable and skip on down to the next paragraph. Logical and effective criticism requires proof, so here we go:
In disbelief and dismay, I watched the rest of “Two and a Half Men,” followed by “Two Broke Girls,” and “Mike and Molly,” all within the time frame of what is considered prime time viewing when kids will most likely be watching and when, I would think, the best writing should be showcased to bring in the most viewers. Apparently not. What I heard was several references to oral sex (Really? This is suitable prime time storyline?), followed by a scene of oral sex being administered in a car while the car zig-zagged all over the road, several references to warm milk and masturbation, emailing pictures of your male “junk” to girls on their phones and ways to make it all look bigger, the mothers of two characters having a lesbian encounter, one mother boasting that she made it from one coast to the other with the clothes on her back and a tube of lubricant, and there was much more, but you get the idea.
I used to have a poster in my classroom that said, “Use good judgment, good taste, and good manners.” I always tried to impress upon my students that if they were ever in doubt as to an action to take, if they would apply one or all of those three concepts to their possible response, they would make the right choice. Heavens, just good manners alone would rule out all the things I saw that night on TV as suitable to show to mixed company and all ages. I know all the things I saw as inappropriate in these TV show exist, but that doesn’t make them acceptable in public situations. My husband used to watch ‘Two and a Half Men” when it first came on, and as time passed and the show sank to new lows, even he, who has worked construction, been in the army, and has heard all the four-letter words, found it embarrassing and quit watching. We have enjoyed early “Big Bang Theory” episodes, but even it has become more and more saturated with sexual situations or remarks that really don’t enrich the story. And the trouble is, CBS is not the only offender; the other networks have obscene programs, too.
I am definitely not a prude, and I don’t advocate going back to the early days of television where married couples were only allowed to have twin beds. Sex is a part of life, but goodness, sex could be targeted in much more appropriate ways in these shows. But life is full of every day situations and dilemmas that could be used as the subjects of sitcoms. Shows like “Frazier,” “Cheers,” “Wings,” “The Cosby Show,” even rule-breakers like “All in the Family” were about real life and were actually funny, and when the subject of sex came up, they didn’t resort to the vulgarity writers seem to think they have to inflict on us today.
I watch the ads for some of the current movies, and without even seeing the whole movie, I know that things aren’t much better on the big screen. I can’t help but wonder, is life imitating entertainment, or is entertainment-and I use the term loosely- influencing life? Another sad aspect of all this is the fact that people out there actually choose to watch this stuff and think it’s funny. What does that say about the average intelligence, manners, morals, and taste of our American public?
I’ll not watch these shows again. My TV has an on-off button and a channel-changer, and I have books to read and other things to do next time I am faced with nothing worthwhile to watch on TV. And I can brave the bad weather and walk outside rather than on the treadmill when there is nothing worth my attention on TV. But what else can we do? I don’t know who these people are who get to be counted in the Nielsen Rating systems that keep a record of programs watched or how it is that the shows get their popularity ratings. Maybe the networks just make that up. All I know to do is not watch offending shows, write the networks, and/or boycott the sponsors-which means you have to watch to see whose ads are running, but I guess it could be done with the mute button on.
I know it’s a free country. Some of you may think the shows I find offensive are funny, but some of this trash is just not right. At the very least, it should be shown after hours, and surely the subject could be approached with more style and class than sitcoms employ now.
The trouble is, I don’t seeing things getting any better in the future.