• Emmys Showcase Obsession With Violent TV Shows

    by  • August 28, 2014 • Violence • 1 Comment


    The trend of violence on television has not abated one whit. If anything, it has intensified.

    News.com.au observed of this year’s Emmy nominees and winners, “While Hollywood basks in its current and much-lauded golden era of television, the new normal of programming is for the most part a compelling yet disturbing slew of dark and grisly material… Excessive TV violence, be it sadistic, sexual, drug-fuelled or even humorous, is part and parcel of TV staples like Game of Thrones, True Blood, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Boardwalk Empire and Under the Dome.”

    While most of these programs air on cable, the trend is happening on broadcast television, too. And unquestionably the dark tone of so many cable series is influencing broadcasters’ programming decisions.

    In fact, the Parents Television Council released a special report  in 2009 that found that violence against women on television was increasing at a rate that exceeded the general rate of increase for televised violence.

    Some of that increase could certainly be attributed to programs like Criminal Minds, which tends to depict women as victims more often than not. It was for that reason that the original star, Mandy Patinkin quit the show after the second season. Afterward he said of his time on Criminal Minds, “The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place… I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.”

    In another interview, Patinkin said, “It’s [violent TV] a curiosity, I don’t get it. People love it. That show [Criminal Minds] remains very successful. My mind has to be in that place to play those parts, that very dark place… It was destroying my heart and my soul. I’m very disturbed this is what people go home to. They watch horrible, misogynistic, violent activity.”

    On top of the recent  trend of serial-killer dramas like The Following and Hannibal, this fall CBS will be premiering Stalker, which is described as a “violent and shocking thriller” from Kevin Williamson, the creator of The Following. TV Guide notes that the series has “already drawn plenty of pre-air criticism, and with good reason. It follows a division of the LAPD that deals with stalkers, voyeurs, and love-obsessed weirdos who target mostly women, often with deadly results.”

    Counter-intuitively, although there are more female power-players in Hollywood than ever before – Nina Tassler has run CBS’ entertainment division since 2004 — they are not using their position and influence to take a stance against Hollywood’s almost fetishistic obsession with shows that focus on violence against women. Patinkin is right: It’s horrible, violent and misogynistic. And it needs to end.



    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.

    One Response to Emmys Showcase Obsession With Violent TV Shows

    1. Linda Weaver
      September 5, 2014 at 5:20 am

      I have never watched any of the violent or sex-crazed shows that are on TV these days, and certainly not the mind-numbing drivel called daytime TV (read soap operas, Dr. Phil, and his ilk). I agree with Mandy Patinkin that is destroys our soul and anything good within us. I watch a few of the comedies on TV (unless they are too raunchy) and LOTS of HGTV or cooking shows and BBC shows from the 70′s and 80′s up to and including Doc Martin, Keeping up Appearances,etc. Netflix has been a great resource for those DVD’s as well as PBS.. Most of my entertainment comes from reading the classics and older fiction by writers such as Miss Read and more recently, Jan Karon and Debbie Macomber,although I can’t stand that insipid series based on her wonderful books that is showing on Hallmark right now. It is poorly cast, especially that blond girl who looks like a mannequin, for about 90% of the roles and the scripts move slower than molasses, making it as bad as the daytime soaps. Debbie’s books, if reproduced and properly cast would have made wonderful TV viewing,

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