TV today is infamous for its sex-slathered sitcoms, from Dads to Two and a Half Men. But during a recent Television Critics Association interview, one TV writer claimed that sex on sitcoms is not gratuitous.
Once upon a time, television’s prime-time situation comedies used to be about, well, comedy – humorous situations happening to characters in offbeat circumstances. From I Love Lucy to Mary Tyler Moore and beyond, such humor was a keynote of television comedy..
No more. Today, “comedy” largely consists of wall-to-wall crass, tasteless, and explicit remarks about sex and scatology. Consider the average episode of CBS’ Two and a Half Men, which features no genuine humor, but a seemingly endless parade of supposedly shocking details about the characters’ sexual escapades. Or this past fall’s premiere of the same network’s new comedy, The Millers, in which a pair of elderly grandparents had a lengthy discussion about masturbation – after which, the episode was devoted to fart jokes about the grandmother. Or the most recent episode of Fox’s Dads, which featured references to semen.
Today’s TV writers defend their lack of talent and inability to write genuine comedy by claiming that the current parade of tastelessness is proof of the more “adult” nature of television. In fact, there’s nothing “adult” about spewing endless sex and fart jokes. “Juvenile” and “adolescent” are far better words to describe today’s alleged “comedy” writing.
During a recent Television Critics Association interview about her upcoming series Friends with Better Lives, Dana Klein (formerly writer/producer for Friends and the failed sitcom Kath and Kim) claimed that her show “would not be a running litany of sex jokes every week, that they would never do a sex joke just for the sake of a sex joke” – this, according to Deadline: Hollywood, despite the first episode featuring “a b*ll joke, d*** joke, b***job joke, another d*** joke, and so on” – in addition to scenes of a wife performing oral sex on her husband at a party, and a woman pumping her own breast while drinking alcohol. Klein claimed that all these scenes are “relatable,” because “sex is a real part of adult life.”
Amazingly, TV managed to tell funny stories about “adult life” for the better part of 50 years without a non-stop stream of borderline obscene remarks about characters’ genitals, sex lives, and bathroom habits. Yet, today’s “writers” remain firmly convinced that their juvenile obsessions with sex and toilet humor are the very pinnacle of creativity.