Hollywood’s latest scam aimed at viewers is its claim that, because a program is ABOUT a family, the program is therefore appropriate for family viewing. But this is a lie – and this fall’s new “comedies” prove it.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, with the new fall TV season beginning, the heads of the major broadcast networks are trying to claim that they are returning to “family” programming. This is part of the broadcast networks grand narrative pretending their shows are wonderful and family-friendly, while perpetuating the myth that “edgier” fare is found only on cable. But in fact, shows on broadcast TV that are truly family-friendly are few or none.
It is true that there is more “family programming” premiering this fall – if by “family programming,” one means “shows about families.” But the content ON the new fall shows about families ranges from the barely passable to the downright disgusting.
Unsurprisingly given its history of shows like How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men, CBS is the worst offender. While its new show The Crazy Ones is sorta-kinda about family (a father-daughter team working together at his business), it’s really just an excuse for Robin Williams’ comic shtick. The network also gives viewers We Are Men, about four divorced men who pursue women for shallow, meaningless sex. Umm…and that’s about “families” how, exactly?
But CBS really hits bottom with two of its other new comedies. Chuck Lorre’s Mom trashes everything family is about, with its story of three generations of promiscuous, alcoholic, drug-addict women (grandmother, mother, and pregnant teenager) all sharing the same household. What could be more “family-friendly” than seeing a teenage girl say of her own mother, “What a whore!”
And CBS’ The Millers doesn’t even deserve to be on television. The first episode of this utterly repugnant filth featured an elderly couple bickering in front of their adult children – about masturbation. The rest of the episode was about how stupid and incompetent the old man is, and how the old woman has flatulence. Yes, senile old people and fart jokes are apparently CBS’ idea of “family” programming.
ABC, the broadcast network owned by the Walt Disney company, is no better. “We do extremely well in family shows,” claims ABC’s president Paul Lee, but you couldn’t prove it by looking at his network’s shows. Back in the Game features a single mom forced to live with her father, an abusive drunk who constantly belittles and puts her down in front of her son. Trophy Wife gives viewers a young wife of a twice-divorced man – whose two ex-wives keep meddling in their marriage (along with the young wife and one ex talking about breasts and genitals, of course). But for REAL “family” programming from Disney, check out The Goldbergs, which in its first episode shows an 11-year-old boy talking about a waitress’ cleavage, saying, “I need those sweet, delicate boobs…I just want to bury my face in those puppies.” “Don’t we all?” agrees his grandfather, who later takes the boy to Hooters. You can always count on Disney to keep it classy.
Fox’s only new “family” comedy this fall is Seth MacFarlane’s Dads. We won’t bother to say more about it here, since – along with TV critics – we’ve already commented on the sleazy, bigoted show. We’ll just say: it deserves everything the critics have said. And more.
NBC’s new fall comedies are marginally less bad than those from the other networks, based on their first episodes; but knowing TV, that could change rapidly. Welcome to the Family has the not terribly family-friendly premise of an unmarried teen couple getting pregnant and deciding to stay together, while the grandfathers-to-be hate each other. Sean Saves the World features a recently-divorced gay man raising his daughter alone. While that premise is family-friendly enough, the show undercuts it by turning Sean into a flaming gay stereotype who minces around while sniggering, “Don’t look at my ass!” NBC’s The Michael J. Fox Show is about the only new show this fall that promises to be even somewhat family-friendly.
In short, claiming a show is safe for families just because it’s ABOUT a family is ludicrous. After all, for over a decade, Fox has aired a program named Family Guy – and nobody would ever claim that show is “family-friendly.”