• CBS’s Insipid, Vulgar “Friends with Better Lives”

    by  • April 9, 2014 • Sex • 6 Comments

    Friends-With-Better-LivesFor the network that airs Two and a Half Men, the bar was already pretty low for insipid and needlessly vulgar comedies, but with the debut last week of Friends with Better Lives, the bar has been set even lower. Debuting after the much-anticipated series finale of How I Met Your Mother, FWBL follows six friends who are in different stages of their lives, and each thinks the other has it better. First up, TV’s favorite cliché: the married couple with kids who never have sex anymore, Bobby and Andi. Next we meet Will, Bobby’s partner (they’re both gynecologists in practice together) who gets served with divorce papers in episode one. Then there’s single Kate, the professional who can’t find a man worthy of her; and newly engaged Jules.

    The premiere episode opens with Bobby and Andi, out of breath under the covers rhapsodizing about how great it was. The viewer is led to believe this is their post-coital afterglow, but then we see that they’re just sitting on the couch catching up on their favorite TV show, because they’re married, and according to most TV writers, marriage means the death of sex. Moments later, we see Kate giving the reasons for her string of failed relationships, most of which are purely superficial and involve her would-be-suitor’s genitalia.

    Kate: “Guys, his wiener smells weird.”

    Kate: “One ball. One big ball.”

    Jules and her fiancée compare notes about their sex life with Bobby and Andi and Bobby learns that Jules “pleasures” Lowell every day.

    Lowell: “How often do you make love?”

    Bobby: “Why? How often do you make love?”

    Man: “I mean, not often, four or five times a week. But my darling Jules pleasures me every day.”

    Andi: “Every day? Why?”

    Jules: “Because he likes it and so do I.”

    Bobby: “Like all the days?”

    Lowell: “How often do you do it, Andi?”

    Bobby: “Never.”

    Andi: “Less.”

    Bobby later discusses with Will how he can make it up to his wife for forgetting their anniversary, and Will suggests a surprise party, where Andi, not realizing they’re not alone in the darkened room, begins to “pleasure” Bobby.

    Bobby turns off the light to surprise Andi. We hear Andi unzip his pants in the dark.

    Andi: “Don’t get the lights, it’s sexier this way, trust me.”

    The lights go on. Andi is kneeling in front of her husband, implying that she was about to perform oral sex.

    Andi: “How long were you going to let me go on for?”

    Bobby: “You know me. A minute.”

    There have been plenty of comedies that were tremendously successful without resorting to cheap sex jokes and innuendo. And there have even been a handful of successful adult-targeted comedies that used an occasional off-color joke but was still genuinely funny. There have been few successful comedies that relied so entirely on vulgarity.

    The New York Daily News’ David Hinckley opened his review of FWBL with, “Oh look, attractive people talking with each other about sex for half an hour.”

    Says the LA Times’ Robert Lloyd: “There is a professional, even a grim efficiency to the jokes, which approach like B-52 bombers, drop their punch lines and head back to base. There are breast jokes, genital jokes, a long oral sex joke, an alcoholic-sorority-girl-defecating-in-a-closet joke. A few hit, many miss. The war goes on.”

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    • Film: “The Other Woman”




    Ms. Henson is a noted expert on entertainment industry trends and the how the impact of entertainment affects children and the American popular culture at large. She also directs the organization’s Advertiser Accountability Campaign, which encourages companies to sponsor family-friendly entertainment. She previously supervised the research and program content analysis operations of the PT and produced a number of groundbreaking PTC studies that document the levels of graphic sex, violence and profanity on television. Some of those reports include: The Ratings Sham I & II, Dying to Entertain, Faith in a Box, The Sour Family Hour, The Blue Tube, and TV Bloodbath. She began her career with the PTC in 1997 as an entertainment analyst, documenting instances of inappropriate content on television. Ms. Henson has appeared on a variety of television shows including Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Big Story, CNN Headline News’ ShowBiz Tonight, CNBC’s On the Money, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, and CBN’s Newswatch. She is a frequent guest on radio talk shows across the country and has been quoted extensively in news sources such asEntertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Variety, Associated Press, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Ms. Henson is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in Government. She resides in Falls Church, Va., with her husband and their son.

    6 Responses to CBS’s Insipid, Vulgar “Friends with Better Lives”

    1. Lola
      April 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

      I am done with TV. We cut the cable, now the antenna. CBS is the worst for sleaze sitcoms. And to Dana, I don’t watch, I hear it when I am channel surfing. The things I have heard in 5 seconds of surfing. Scary. Where does it go from here?
      We had the Brady Bunch on yesterday and Mike Brady was worried about a movie the girls were going to see. If only he could turn on the TV now.

    2. April 18, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Man, this raunch stuff is getting so-o-o-o stale. Monotonous. Been-there-seen-that. “Edginess” has dulled like a steak knife that can’t even cut butter anymore.

      • Dana
        April 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

        So have the retorts from so-called “fans” of this garbage: “If you don’t like it DON’T WATCH IT!”

    3. April 18, 2014 at 2:59 am

      Thank you for bringing this to our awareness, and for all the good work you do. As a developmental psychologist, I can confirm that children look to this type of content to get their social cues for how adults behave “behind closed doors.” It’s disturbing that through this content we are raising a generation of young people to think that adults have a continual, superficial focus on sleazy sex, and that marriage is a dead end.

      This form of “entertainment” is deeply corrupting to the spirit and thought processes of young people who are not only robbed of the innocence of childhood, but who are being artificially jaded and deceived by things that are not even real. The social cost of programs like these is enormous.

      Again, thank you for sounding the alarm and for not going gently into that dark, corrupting night. I would love to get you back on my radio show to discuss this, and to tell my listeners how they can help.


    4. Fran
      April 17, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      : “Friends with Better Lives” is a disgusting excuse for entertainment. Do any of the advertisers who are paying for this garbage connect the dots with what people see on TV and in the movies with the moral disintegration of our nation? Do they understand this is a part of why we have an epidemic of sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses and out of wedlock pregnancies? Are the sponsors blinded by the potential they see for profit or do they just not care? And by the way, why do decent people buy into this by even have a TV in their homes?

    5. Peter
      April 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      What a pathetic excuse for adult comedies.

      Anyone remembers Curb Your Enthusiasm?

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