• Coming Soon to Broadcast TV: F-Words

    by  • July 14, 2014 • Broadcast Decency, Profanity • 24 Comments

    marrymeMuch has been said and written about the broadcast networks’ perceived need to compete with cable as a justification for pushing the boundaries on broadcast television. Most recently, NBC Entertainment division chairman Bob Greenblatt spoke of the challenges broadcasters face in trying to compete against cable at the Emmys. There is a coolness factor that is clearly of paramount to concern to Greenblatt and his peers, and a small cadre of Hollywood insiders, but is of little interest or concern to the vast majority of television viewers. At the Television Critics Association (TCA) tour, Greenblatt recently said, “Cable can be darker, more interesting, feels cooler than some of the things we can do, it’s just a fact of life.”

    So here again is proof that Hollywood is less interested in programming for viewers at home than in programming for themselves and their Hollywood insider peers. It matters not one bit that an average episode of NCIS brings in three times as many viewers as the Emmy nominated Game of Thrones, or that the average television viewer doesn’t perceive frontal female nudity, explicit sex, and the ability to drop the “F-bomb” every thirty seconds as an indicator of great writing or quality programming.

    And so the networks continue their program of blurring the lines between broadcast television and cable. The latest case in point is the new NBC comedy Marry Me which made liberal use of the “f-word” in the pilot episode, which was seen by television critics at the Summer TV Press Tour. One critic pointed it out to series creator David Caspe, and asked, “Are you going to be writing it this way, and… let Standards cut it out?”

    Caspe answered, “I haven’t thought about it much. Maybe a little bit, here and there, and then I cut it.”

    But this is only a sign of things to come. According to television critic Lisa de Moraes:

    During a session for new drama State of Affairs, executive producer Joe Carnahan said his goal for the series was to push content boundaries to create a drama that would “out-do what cable has become, (which is), let’s face it, the standard bearer.” To which, his fellow State of Affairs EP Ed Bernero, responded, “We have to use a little bit different language, and can’t show sex as much,” but the biggest difference between cable drama and broadcast is that both start with characters that are “messed up” but cable shows make the character “more messed up” while broadcast series feel the need to “fix them right away.”

    “There’s nothing cable can do that we can’t do,” Bernero concluded. “Except show boobs,” series star Katherine Heigl muttered.

    The conversation carried over into the Marry Me session. “I think ‘f***’ is NBC-friendly now,” joked Ken Marino, who stars as the romantic lead, opposite Casey Wilson, in the single-cam comedy about a young couple who, after dating six years, get engaged and realize it’s harder than it looks.

    One critic wondered whether this comedy series would be an historic standards moment in TV.

    “I would love to say ‘fuck’ on NBC but I don’t think this is going to be the groundbreaking. If want to make sure it sounds like people talk – people tend to swear a little,” exec producer Caspe said.

    “And, if you don’t like it – fuck off!” joked star Wilson.

    “Not you!” Caspe hastened to tell TV critics, adding, “We love all you – fuck on!”

    But where does this boldness come from in so aggressively asserting their intent to push content boundaries? It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Remember just a few years ago when the networks were challenging FCC indecency fines in the courts, the standard line was that even if they could use more explicit sex and profanity doesn’t mean they would. But now that we’ve gone for years without any FCC enforcement, the networks are no longer shy about revealing their true agenda. And Hollywood’s vision for the future of broadcast television will soon be reality if we don’t speak up against it now.



    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.

    24 Responses to Coming Soon to Broadcast TV: F-Words

    1. Mrs. M
      July 17, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Is Hollywood guilty of gathering a bunch of writers who are spoiled people who cannot control their mouths and angry thoughts? Or is America turning into people who lack vocabulary? There is a sickness in always swearing! It shows low class behavior and lack of control. Years ago, film had some terrifying moments, as in The Towering Inferno and there was no vulgar language! In some cases there is cause to get upset and maybe some language might come out in anger……but it should not be overused! It makes one think the character needs more attention ( or the writer does) and the story gets shuffled away, due to the audience getting uncomfortable! My advice is not to let them insult your intelligence! Would you put up with what they do in real life? Turn it off or walk away…..the writers not want to work to communicate…..they need more education, maybe.

    2. Jackie Burbridge-Casey
      July 17, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      I refuse to watch any TV show or movie when they use profanity. I will walk out of the movie, change the channel or completely turn off the TV.

    3. Sabree
      July 18, 2014 at 1:48 am

      Thank you so much for what your doing. Of course the first priority is appropriateness for children during the airing of a show, but is PTC also tackling the inappropriate and quite often violently graphic airing of previews at all times of day and night. Theses disturbing images also assault the senses of adults who would choose to stay away from those shows and yet are subjected to these advertisements. I hope you are and let me know how I can help.

    4. Pernell Harrison
      July 18, 2014 at 3:34 am

      F-words, S-words, D-words, H-words and blasphemed God’s name NEVER should been used on Broadcast Television! It’s offensive to families everywhere!

      Recently, I contacted ABC and CBS through their websites about adding new networks to provide classic television over the air (free TV) through their owned and operated station and their affiliates, also on cable, satellite, Internet through their websites and on their mobile apps.

      I asked ABC about launching ABC Classics Network and Disney Classics Network (two 24/7 separate networks to provide classics through 1990s).

      I also asked CBS about launching CBS Classics Network (24/7 network to provide classics through 1990s too.)

      We would love to see classic sitcoms, dramas, westerns, variety shows, movies, specials, Saturday morning programming, etc. from yesteryear again for family viewing.

      • William Warfield
        July 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm

        I agree *150%,*

        About the only channels I watch now are MeTV (which carries many classic shows) and TBN’s family channel (Smile…., but they also have many family movies and specials that can be enjoyed by *all* ages). What does *that* tell you?

    5. Kathie Sizemore
      July 18, 2014 at 4:22 am

      This news is so disheartening. Standards? Seems their are none in television programming anymore. It’s simply a race to the bottom, and the sheeple keep begging for more. Time to pull the plug.

    6. Kathy
      July 18, 2014 at 4:38 am

      I see absolutely no reason to use the F word on TV. Cable or regular. I have never used that word and if see a program that uses, I will ABSOLUTELY NOT WATCH that program again.

    7. Don
      July 18, 2014 at 4:48 am

      I don’t feel that vulgarity is a goal to be aimed for, but rather a trend to be avoided. Let’s not be ready to accept the courseness being thrust upon us.

    8. Wayne and Carla Buras
      July 18, 2014 at 5:11 am

      Today’s children know enough swear words. If we allow the f-bomb to be used continually, I shudder to think what word they will use to replace it when it no longer has a shocking effect on others.

      Everyone needs to know their “words” from the English language to communicate, swear words only incite drama and anger. No show that is worth watching will have these in it. We vote for intelligence, not ignorance.

    9. Vincent Reda
      July 18, 2014 at 5:42 am

      Filthy words are shortcuts around creativity. Their deployment is a lazy or burnt-out scriptwriter’s alternative to the clever and eloquent use of decent language, masquerading as a dedication to realism.

    10. Tricia Russell
      July 18, 2014 at 6:02 am

      I feel that our language is becoming destroyed by the profanity, acronyms, and texting that are commonly used today. We are unable to express our feelings or carry on a complete conversation without using these forms of expression. This is even before I complain about the ugliness and vileness of using such words as f***, sh**, and other sexual words. These expressions add nothing to a movie script, conversation or tv show. In my opinion, they show our ignorance of being able to express ourselves using language. To often today a show or movie can have a good story line then it is totally destroyed by the use of these kinds of words, especially the “f” word. It makes me cringe each time I hear this word used, and I can only be disgusted with the lack of acting and writing that thinks this is a good script. Children today can no longer write and essay or report without using “text” language, and I can only imagine the horror of their ability in the future as curse words become integrated into our everyday language.

    11. Will Clayton
      July 18, 2014 at 6:13 am

      Writers today have no creativity left but can only copy what’s already out there and even then it’s at the lowest they can possibly go. Throwing bad language, nudity, sex, and violence at the audience merely proves this point. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” someone in Hollywood said once and apparently this is true. In the days of “family” TV writers were forced to get creative because they were not allowed to use certain words and images and the same held true for movies. When one is allowed to do what one wants creativity is gone and imitation takes over. This is wrong and disgusting and part of the reason I no longer watch network TV at all. If hooking a “young” audience is the sole purpose of TV and indeed all media, then let them have it. I’ll spend my dollars elsewhere and certainly not on some advertiser who apparently already has enough money and doesn’t need mine.

    12. Michael Simpson
      July 18, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Profanity in its entirety is a feeble mind trying to express itself. This is the very reason my family has a DVD. Garbage in garbage out. I don’t have to contend with all the nastiness.

    13. Linda Adams
      July 18, 2014 at 7:46 am

      I think anyone who subscribes to the Parents Television Counsel emails doesn’t support anything Hollywood does, especially the “F” words and other disgusting thing they are putting on TV these days. Enough is enough! I don’t watch hardly ANY TV now, even cable, except for Christian broadcasting, like “Granite Flats”.

    14. David Petron
      July 18, 2014 at 7:51 am

      I will not watch shows that include the F word. No more foul language should be allowed over the air waves than already are.

    15. Phyllis Robershaw
      July 18, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Actually, four-letter words are poor communication habits. They may communicate anger, frustration, vulgarity, and always an F-level knowledge of the English language. English is a fascinating, challenging, and expressive language created as a blend of many languages: French, Spanish, Greek, Latin, etc. America is a ‘salad bowl’ of many nationalities and our language reflects our make up. It is a difficult language to learn, and media has a wonderful opportunity to help us all become more knowledgeable and fluent by presenting the best of this beautiful language.

      When they choose to stoop to the lowest level, they should lose their opportunity to influence both children and adults.

    16. Ida Hanson
      July 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I won’t watch shows that are using the f bomb….I eliminate that show that uses those words…recently the new show RUSH WAS INTRODUCED….it has been deleted from this household after 10 min into the program, sex with a Dr who used Cocaine and is practicing….really? Many new shows will not be seen In our house because the morals and standards are so low. Why bother….just watch the news it’s all there. That is not entertainment…it is life on bad!

    17. Cheryl Kallberg
      July 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Swear words on television are never necessary. The garbage that is on cable channels has gone way too far. The sex, violence and language are because high school graduates haven’t been taught how to write or think. The more they get away with, the lower they sink. I watch old movies and old television shows, (I am 57 years old) and the commercials they show for the new garbage has be heading for the mute.

    18. Cindy
      July 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

      TV is suppose to entertain, not push the garbage mouths of today’s society. We must take a stand as I do for the Bible. Sinful nature tells people to push other people out of the picture, disregard any one who objects to their actions. Stop the garbage that is being forced on the majority of us.

    19. Bill
      July 20, 2014 at 9:09 am

      We simply don’t need to continue down the road of diminishing civility on TV and the movies. If producers can get well-written scripts and good acting, viewers will watch. Most people (my opinion) don’t want shock effect to be the main reason for watching a show. They want good entertainment. That may be an outdated concept to some, but it’s the basic reason why we watch TV.

    20. TJ Long
      September 13, 2014 at 7:27 am

      I think its time to turn the TV off for good and disconnect the cable. Your family will be better off.

    21. Allison
      September 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

      I don’t get why people think “quality” programming must include graphic sex/violence/profanity. Isn’t it about the quality of the writing and acting that should count? Don’t get this whole race into the gutter. I remember when I grew up that there were programs you could watch as a family. The networks don’t make those shows anymore. Now it’s all about being dark and edgy.

    22. Travis
      September 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Throwing cuss words around is just lazy writing. I think there are definitely a place for it, where it brings reality into what you are watching, but it is not necessary to the degree writers are thinking it is.
      Take Heath Ledger’s Joker performance. Wonderfully done. Depicting a compete psychopath, and yet i cant remember him saying one swear word. Another example is Stranger Things. Yes, again there is some swearing, but nothing that makes you back up and say wow, why did they have to throw that in there.
      In short, you can make great content without boobs, and f-bombs

    23. RON
      January 13, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      I just read the above article which is the last artile of 7 or 8 I have just read. The others explained the current use of Swear words, Supreme Court Comment and FCC response.

      I don’t watch a lot of TV and only receive Basic. I enjoy the older reruns and frequently se the Logo TV / PG superimposed.
      It used to be that Parent organizations were frequently mentioned in the news. NOT ANYMORE!

      I assume and believe that Parentstv.org has abdicated their persecution of the standards.


      1. ) One thing that became obvious from the articles I read is that Advertisers are still sensitive to content.
      2. ) The reason there is the amount of existing bad content is that the public is NOT COMPLAINING IN VOLUME.

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