Graphic masturbation, vapid teenage girls, and an explicit and gory decapitation are just some of the reasons the CW’s new show Reign should end – and many of TV’s critics agree.
Dubbed “Mary, Teen of Scots” by Internet wags, the CW’s new program Reign (premiering this Thursday, October 17 at 9:00 p.m. ET) is a ridiculously romanticized and hilariously historically inaccurate “reimagining” of the early years of the real-life Mary, Queen of Scots.
Naturally, since the program airs on the CW, hunky, shirtless boys, guy-and-clothing-obsessed girls, and non-stop teen sex are de rigueur; but the premiere of Reign goes far beyond even standard CW fare. As the PTC pointed out in its initial review of CW’s new fall programming, AND on the page for Reign on our Family Guide to Prime-Time Television, the first episode features an extended sequence in which teen queen Mary and her maids watch “the consummation,” a custom during which members of the court observe a princess’ wedding-night sex with her new husband (thus proving to all concerned that the couple did consummate their marriage). The sex is shown through gauzy bed curtains; but one of Mary’s handmaids is so stimulated by the sight that she rushes out of the room and graphically masturbates on a stairway. In the midst of her self-pleasuring, she is groped and fondled by the French king, who presumably then rapes her.
Media reports state that this scene has been edited so as to be less graphic than it was in the show’s preview screening, during which all the above was explicit; but the network has apparently added a graphic decapitation which was not in the original preview.
This is yet one more example of the way that the entertainment industry is attempting to bring premium cable-level violence and sex to prime-time broadcast TV. Truly disturbing is the fact that such content is being squarely targeted at the CW’s key audience of teen and pre-teen girls – an audience already regularly sexualized and exploited by the CW and the entertainment industry generally.
But what is particularly notable – and welcome – is that a number of self-righteous, anti-censorship (and typically un-friendly to the PTC) TV critics are panning Reign, for some of the exact same reasons the PTC does. While the PTC and the critics agree, however, a moment should be spared in noting these same critics’ self-contradicting hypocrisy.
In his review of Reign, one critic even goes so far as to state that the CW is “providing some of the worst role models for young women in this country” and is “ruining America.” If the PTC had said this, TV critics would’ve sneered at us as over-the-top, hopelessly puritanical, quasi-fascist advocates of “censorship” – as indeed they did, back when the PTC was pointing out that the pro-rape propaganda and teen-oral-sex-in-school-parking-lots plots on CW shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 exploit and victimize girls, reducing them to brainless sex objects. Yet when The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman and Variety’s Brian Steinberg give voice to identical sentiments…well, somehow that’s different. (Apparently, sexually exploiting teenage girls in a historical setting is a crime against humanity — but exploiting them in a current-day setting is hip and trendy.)
Though they’ll never admit it, America’s TV critics agree with the PTC that TV’s exploitation of teenage girls is an unhealthy thing. It’s a pity they’re not as consistent as we are in combating it; but even though we at the PTC take pride in the fact that we got there first, we’re glad that the critics are finally coming around, and starting to acknowledge the negative implications of the graphic media content they have so often praised.
To learn more about the PTC’s efforts to combat the sexualization of girls, click here.