What’s on TV tonight? Don’t ask

The AP’s David Bauder watches TV so you don’t have to.  And it’s not pretty:

Last week seemed typical for CBS’ sitcoms on Monday night, television’s most popular — and raunchy — night of comedy.

There was a strip club visit on “How I Met Your Mother,” lap dance included. The stars of “2 Broke Girls” mistakenly believed an upstairs neighbor ran a brothel. “Two and a Half Men” included jokes about masturbation, oral sex, sex with moms, trading cigarettes for sex and two scenes with loud noises of passion from behind closed doors.  A quick count found 53 sex jokes on the network’s four comedies, which includes “Mike & Molly.” There were also nine jokes about flatulence or bowel movements, and two scenes where marijuana use was clearly implied — one with a teen-age boy and the other with an older woman.

The subject matter leaves some viewers queasy, such as Amanda St. Amand, mother of two college students from St. Louis. She said the shows go past raunchy fun to just plain raunchy. She rarely watches them anymore.

CBS and producers of the comedies strongly defend their work and point to the shows’ success as evidence they’re doing something right. “Two and a Half Men” is TV’s favorite comedy, “How I Met Your Mother” has its best ratings ever in its seventh year and “2 Broke Girls” is a breakout freshman hit. The four shows are among the seven most popular comedies on prime-time television this season, the Nielsen ratings company said.

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said the comedies are “a little risque,” but that the characters are living truthfully within their particular circumstances.

“The fact that there is such strong ratings growth for all of them means that those shows are resonating,” Tassler said. “It means that the characters are resonating. It means that their dialogue is really landing with audiences. The shows are laugh-out-loud funny.”

“Mike & Molly” has the least amount of sexual content of the four shows last week, although it did include jokes about a flasher, breasts, prostitution and erections.

“2 Broke Girls” opened its episode with the two lead characters trading four raunchy jokes with the leering cook in the diner where they work.

Show creator Michael Patrick King reacted strongly earlier this month when he was questioned at a meeting of the Television Critics Association about jokes in his show regarding anal sex.

“It’s 8:30 on Monday on CBS in 2012,” said King, former producer of “Sex and the City” for HBO.

“It’s a very different world than 8:30 on Monday on CBS in 1994. … I consider our jokes really classy dirty. I think they’re high lowbrow. I think they’re fun and sophisticated and naughty, and I think everybody likes a good naughty joke. I also think if the show existed only in naughty jokes without the pathos, I would not be happy.”

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd

    Let’s keep in mind that network tv viewership continues to plummet. True, there are raunchier alternatives on cable, dish, or the net. But at some point most people will respond to the deeper human longings that go a bit beyond gritty humor at the expense of others.

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I am grateful for a long career in the TV business and very grateful that I left it when I did, and for church work no less.

    I am not someone who is easily shocked, but I continue to be shocked and horrified by what I hear and see on network TV. I don’t watch much, but sometimes my husband is flipping around the channels and I am within earshot.

    God. Have. Mercy.

    Then there is the awful cable fodder, which my 15 y.o. would like to be watching, because “everyone” watches, but the line is drawn there. Kardashians, Tosh, Jersey Shore.

    God. Have. Mercy.

    (Yes, I broke my no commenting vow, but I’m not fighting!)

  • Mark

    We watch almost zero TV and don’t miss it. I hear more and more who are cancelling their cable because it had 200 stations and nothing to watch. I also see fewer going to movies because they so often fill that with trash. Loved that picture for it reminded me of a better time and place for most Americans. Note dad near the set as there was no remote control. Missing are the rabbit ears we had on our set to be able to get all three stations. Remember when dad came how with a screen you could place on your black and white set to make it appear to have color picture. You then had to line up everyone next to each other at just the right height. Wow. no video games, computers, automatic diswashers, washers, dryers, microwaves, computers with twitter/google/email. Heck, we didn’t even have pagers yet. Pay phones all over and cost a nickle for local call. We had our first phone installed and I remember it and our number to this day 70 years later. It was a party line which most people do not even know what that meant. No aircondtioning which meant hot days if lucky you went to air cooled movie house. Fans in every window to pull the air in and out. porn was seeing naked african women breasts in national geographic. Biggest trouble you could get in at school was for chewing gum or talking back to a teacher. But now we have made great progress and all lead simpler, peaceful lives with all the modern conveniences at our fingertips.

  • http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com Ad Orientem

    There is a very simple solution to this problem. Get rid of the idiot box. Seriously. Try it. You will be surprised how liberating it is. Who knows you might find yourself in a bookstore or library looking for your news – information – entertainment. What a horror that would be. The only time I see any television these days is if I’m visiting friends or relatives. And invariably it makes me yearn to get back home.

    Remember, YOU are the ultimate censor. If you don’t like the filthy degenerate c— being broadcast then you know where the channel changer is. You know where the on/off switch is. And presumably you know how to unplug the beast and put it out by the curb.

  • Melody

    We’re thinking about giving up our cable upgrade for Lent. Wouldn’t bother me, I’d rather read a book. Somebody else in the household would miss their sports channels though. Trouble is you have to get the upgrade to get stuff like the History Channel and Animal Planet which are actually kind of good.

  • Mike L

    I think Ad Orientem has the right answer. If you can’t turn the trash off, why do you expect someone to do it for you? About 12 years ago I returned from cruising on a sailboat in the Bahamas and looked forward to watching TV again. Ran an antenna up into the rigging, plugged in the small TV and was rewarded with a guy yelling at me that I had to buy such and such for several minutes. Then some inane program for 5 minutes and back to the advertisements. Cut the antenna lead, took down the antenna, donated the TV and have lived life without it.

    Sometimes I miss the sports, or educational specials, but if I really want to see them there is generally a friend that I can visit. Outside of that I haven’t missed TV at all.

    Hugs,

    Mike L

  • Claire L. May

    My husband and I gave up cable, like our older son and wife did. We now just watch favorite movies and older series that we either have on DVD or that we digitally download on our computer or my Apple Company devices. We got fed up with raunchy loud commercials in addition to horrible programming. I watch EWTN live streaming now. Life is much nicer without cable, or satellite. And much cheaper, too! Plus much more time for prayer.

  • Robert N.

    “What’s on TV tonight?”

    Not news coverage of the 350,000 Pro-life march in washington, DC.
    If I ever worked for the MSM I’d be ashamed.

  • Deb

    TV has gotten so bad even my college kids barely watch it. We do like old Law and Order’s, and now with the stations that show older shows, “MASH”, LIttle House” Everybody Loves Raymond” and shows like that.

    You have to be choosy, but they are there.

  • FW Ken

    the characters are living truthfully within their particular circumstances.

    What a unique excuse. I spend my time with convicted felons, most of whom were, indeed, living truthfully within their particular circumstances. Name a mass murderer and consider his authenticity, as he expressed him truest self. I know a lot of sex offenders… but am not going down that road.

    Let’s tell the truth : these shows make a lot of money for a lot of people. As long as they do, they will continueon the air.

  • Quid est veritas

    I agree with Deb. Since we, as a family with children, need to find things that appeal to everyone and are age appropriate, we mostly watch older TV shows and movies. No dirty words or cursing, less violence, and they’re really engaging and enjoyable.

  • IC

    I don’t watch TV anymore, and haven’t for years. I see it sometimes at my parents’ when we visit, and although they tend to be PBS and Nick at Nite and Food Channel people, when we hit anything else I’m pretty stunned.

    I agree with “just turn it off”, after all, I’m doing it! But the reality is many won’t, many kids don’t know any better, and our society is getting sicker and sicker because of this. We need more than “turn it off” here.

  • ron chandonia

    The idea that anyone can solve this problem by switching off unacceptable programming–or getting rid of the TV altogether–is superficially appealing. In my own house, we have not had a functioning TV set for many years, and neither our adult sons nor our teen daughter experienced network or cable vulgarity in our home. But that has hardly kept the lowest elements in our popular culture from influencing their thinking and behavior. Very few of their peers live under similar restrictions, and the standards of (mis)behavior they see on the streets–or hear about on the news–are largely set by the media.

    The “live and let live” mantra is a recipe for disaster. No matter what choices we make for ourselves or our families, we all have to live with the choices others make as well, and those choices are making our communities much less wholesome places for decent people to live.

  • Mark

    Ron, very true. But when you hit back, it is surprising at times who attacks you. Point out the connection between a party of death to the same party being the party of slavery and civil rights massive abuses and you get bashed. Talk about our failure of both priests and layity to listen to Humane Vitae and how accurate the Pope was on wide acceptance of birth control leading to exactly what this post is talking about and you get attacked even on Catholic blogs. Jesus said those who follow and pick up the cross will be hated and attacked, but you would hope that those seeing truth would finally give up the charade and join the battle for a country that everyone can see is one nation under God. The leadership we select is a direct reflection on the moral fibre of the country and having a president like Obama who again has been so bad that he has raised the ire of Catholic Bishops and partnered with planned parent abortion mills certainly reflects everything this post details and more. But we have been sliding into the muck for decades and it will take real change to begin to kill the beast we have allowed into our house.

  • Will

    Watched some college basketball, pro hockey, and “Castle”.

  • http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com Maggie Duffy

    Haven’t watched network TV since the mid-1970s, but still watch TV. There’s lots of other programming around, LOTS, that’s interesting and appealing to the intellect and even the heart. Unfortunately, the “least common denominator” has gotten progressively lower in that time, so I never will watch a network (with the exception of the Olympic Games).

  • http://www.mikesnewsmusings.blogspot.com Deacon Mike Brainerd

    One thing I am grateful for in my life is that I do not get to watch very much primetime TV due to my work schedule and the fact that I am too cheap to pay for the DVR service. Reading this article about these shows I have never seen only confirms what I already suspected-I’m not missing anything.

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com/ Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    The best Lent that I ever had was one when I was single and gave up TV. I had an unwieldy wall unit at the time, 1995 or 96 I think, and had to remove all books, objects, etc to unplug the cable stuff and TV completely. As a result, it would not have been easy to just turn it on.

    While my family would hate this, I would love to do this again. You are right about some of those channels!

  • Janet

    My husband and I don’t watch sitcoms and we don’t have cable. I realize that we are not in the majority of American TV watchers. Maybe that is why when I am somewhere where “Two And A Half Men” is playing – with kids in the room – I am in amazement that no one seems to think twice about what is being said and laughed at on the screen.

    If you have been watching popular TV shows all along, you can’t see the level to which they have sunk. We do because the last sitcoms that we remember were back in the late 80s.

    I teach in our parish PREP program on Sundays and recently asked the kids to take note when watching their favorite TV shows over the next week. When I mentioned that they should avoid shows with bad language, disrespectful kids or heavy sexual content, one kid was honest enough to say that was impossible because that included most of his favorite shows – and he is in fifth grade.

    This is the real tragedy here.

  • Ellen

    We have cable since my father wants to watch it. He’s 90 years old and mostly watches ESPN, Mass on EWTN and movies. That’s about it for him. Me – I watch a few of the reality shows but not the trashy ones. I like Dirty Jobs and American Restorations – shows about people who actually work. But on the whole, I’d rather read.

  • http://stagesofprayer.wordpress.com Antonius

    My wife and I are watching shows on INSP channel : stuff like Dr. Quinn, and The Waltons. insp.com

  • pagansister

    If there was no market for the shows and no one watched, then the producers would change their formats. Obviously some folks are enjoying the current choices and thus—-they will continue. There is an off button on the remote for a reason.

  • Catherine

    There were a lot of good shows for families to watch together back in the days of black and white TV (and movies). We have a saying in our house — “If it’s black and white, it must be good.” My mother went out to buy a color TV on November 22, 1963. The JFK assassination was reported while she was in the store. We did not get that color TV for a few years after that.

  • Don from NH

    I hardly watch any of today’s tv “shows”

    Other than the news I would rather find a classic movie on TCM and I mean classic (usually black and white)

  • Joanc57

    Very true; I don’t watch much anymore. Life is much better when the TV is off. The modern garbage that passes for entertainment is the result of zero imagination, anemic talent and pathetic discernment in the industry. They can’t come up with anything interesting that isn’t dirty, period end of story.

  • Catherine

    I restrict my young children to DVDs and videos I have purchased for them (lots of old Disney classics, from before the rot set in, and similar things), and have banned Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and the horrible Cartoon Network. They go to a pretty traditional Catholic school. However, many of their friends have access to the kind of toxic pop culture I’m trying to shield them from. The other children have iPods loaded with things like Lady Gaga songs, and are constantly playing with iPhones and iPads. Who knows what they are looking at? My children have none of these devices, and they have, so far, accepted this as part of our family culture. But the vulgarity and crudeness has permeated almost every aspect of our culture. This week alone, I heard a conservative radio host refer to a conservative woman commentator with whom he disagreed on something as “what’s her ass,” and the same host said of the President that “he sucks at golf.” And there is a radio ad that runs constantly on that radio network, on all the conservative shows, for a company called “Your Marketing Sucks.com.” When did the use of this offensive term become so widely acceptable? When did it become commonplace for a “culture warrior” conservative male to speak of a woman in the way he did? It breaks my heart to think of what my children are going to be exposed to as they grow.

  • Oregon Catholic
  • Bill

    I am proud to say that I do not watch any of these shows because of the low humor and lack of respect they show for the viewer. The “great wasteland” is getting larger and more desolate all the time. God help those people with small and growing children.

  • Barbara

    Cooking shows and PBS are getting a bit tiring. Can’t wait for baseball season to begin!


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