Four out of five primetime “family comedies” on television include explicit sexual dialogue used in front of children, according to a new Parents Television Council study that calls it a disturbing new trend.
A total of 81.5 percent of the so-called family comedies included situations where adults – or even children – make “explicit references to sex in front of teenage and even child characters.” Just as concerning, many of the comedies were rated TV-PG, and some did not contain the “D” descriptor designating sexual dialogue, according to the study.
“Furthermore, the networks are marketing this alarming content trend as being appropriate for children to watch,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “Our study reveals a fundamental problem with the way TV shows are rated. Each TV network assigns its own ratings, and oversight of the system is then handed to a group of the very same network executives who routinely rate programs inaccurately.”
Networks don’t want their programs to be rated TV-MA, Winter said, because “mainstream corporations won’t sponsor programming” with that rating.
NBC’s A.P. Bio was the worst offender, followed by The Mick (Fox), American Housewife (ABC), Life in Pieces(CBS) and Family Guy(Fox).
A.P. Biospotlights a disgruntled high school teacher named “Jack.” According to the study, the Feb. 1 episode included a scene where he tells the class: “So, last night I found out my nemesis Miles got a MacArthur genius grant, just after my ex turned me down for sex. So, I got angry, I got very drunk, and then I went pee pee on the hospital where she works. Police officer suggested that I stop. I suggested that he pleasure me sexually. He didn’t.”
An April 30, 2017 episode of Family Guy included a scene with a principal telling a student: “I just listened to two hours of butt-dialed sex between my wife and the ADT alarm guy.”
In the Nov. 21, 2017 episode of The Mick, an eight-year-old boy and an male adult undress a woman on a poker video game.
Other examples are too explicit to print here.
“Decades of scientific research has concluded that children and teens are profoundly influenced by what they see and hear on television,” Winter said. “Yet today, primetime television places young characters directly in the midst of sexually-charged dialogue, and that content is marketed as appropriate for children to watch. The system that is supposed to ‘protect’ children by giving parents control over explicit, age-inappropriate content is an abject failure.”
The study examined shows during the “sweeps weeks” of November 2016, February 2017, May 2017, November 2017, February 2018 and May 2018.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Peter Kent
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.