• PaleyFest Recap: The Best and Worst New Shows of 2015

    by  • September 18, 2015 • Broadcast Decency, Paley2015, Paleyfest • 6 Comments

    The fall broadcast TV season offers several programs that appear to be safe for families…and several that definitely aren’t. 

    Every year, the PTC attends the Paley Center for Media’s Fall TV Preview event, during which some of the new TV programs premiering in fall are shown. We then offer our evaluation of the new shows, particularly which programs are safe for families and children, and which parents should be certain their children avoid. Here are PTC’s top three picks for Best and Worst series of fall 2015.



    Supergirl on CBS

    This delightfully cheerful and upbeat  superhero series about the adventures of Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, is perfect for families – especially girls.By day, Kara’s an intern for media mogul Cat Grant; but when danger threatens the people of National City, she defends them as one of the greatest heroes ever: Supergirl!

    Though the show contains some fantasy violence, it is substantially less than other such programs, with none of the “dark and gritty” sensibility which has marred other DC comics properties like CW’s Arrow and the Dark Knight movie series, thus making Supergirl ideal for children.

    For far too long the entertainment industry has – openly or covertly – objectified women, telling young girls that all that matters is “sexiness” and appearance. Now at last, there is a terrific role model for young girls. Supergirl is strong, smart, brave, and (even in her secret identity) unfailing in her devotion to helping others and doing what’s right.  As one character says in the first episode: “A female hero? I’d like my daughter to have someone like that to look up to.” Now, America’s girls – and boys, too – have such just such a character in Supergirl. 

    Supergirl premieres Monday, October 26th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.



    The Grinder on Fox

    Combining a sharp satire of TV legal dramas with warm family comedy, this program centers on a pompous actor who thinks he can be a lawyer in real life– because he played one on TV.

    While most of the laughs on The Grinder come from the program’s satire of courtroom dramas like Boston Legal and Law & Order, there’s also a warmer, deeper message. Small-town lawyer Stu envies his bold, famous, well-spoken brother Dean, who plays the infallible lawyer Grinder on TV. But the envy goes both ways. Though pompous and arrogant, Dean also looks up to Stu, who has a loving wife and children, and has made family the center of his life. By contrast, despite his celebrity, Dean feels life has passed him by, a major reason why he wants to emulate Stu and become a lawyer in their home town.  Thus, under the satire of TV, The Grinder is a story of two brothers reconnecting, and learning to support and care about one another.

    The Grinder premieres Tuesday, September 29th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox.  


    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on CW

    This sweet, funny, romantic musical comedy with a talented cast tells the story of a successful career woman who drops everything to move across the country to pursue a chance for love.

    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is filled with an upbeat tone, delightfully satrical comedy, tremendously talented musical performances, and a central story about love and romance – elements which could make it a treat for families. But like Fox’s Glee, there may also be some issues to concern parents. The first episode contained a bit of questionable language, and a scene implying (but not showing) that characters had sex on the first date. Judging from the first episode, the program does have the potential to be a positive family show;  but whether the program will follow that path, or go down a more explicit one, has yet to be seen.


    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premieres Monday, October 12 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on the CW.





    Scream Queens on Fox

    Containing content (graphic gore, sexual dialogue, and a deeply disturbing tone) more appropriate for a premium cable program, this show’s greatest shock is that it is on the public airwaves to begin with. 

    A tale of murder and perversity in a college sorority, Scream Queens employs hateful stereotypes of sorority girls, college deans, racial and ethnic minorities, deaf students, lesbians, and nearly anyone else one could name. Violence on the first episode alone included a woman having her face dunked in boiling oil, then tearing the flesh from her face; a girl being knifed to death; and a group of sorority pledges buried up to their necks, then run over with a lawn mower.

    With Scream Queens, show creator, Ryan Murphy has brought the extreme content and sickening sensibility of his FX dramas Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story to the publicly-owned airwaves during the Family Hour of 8:00 p.m. Eastern – only 7:00 p.m. Central/Mountain. Parents are strongly cautioned to keep their children and teens as far as possible from this graphic and grotesque program.  

    Scream Queens premieres Tuesday, September 22nd at 8:00 p.m. Eastern (7:00 p.m. Central/Mountain) on Fox.  



    Life in Pieces on CBS

    Larded with wall-to-wall sex and scatological “humor,” this “family comedy” is totally inappropriate for families. The series contains four short, sex-obsessed vignettes every week – each of them horrifically wrong for prime time.

    Following members of one family in various states of life (grandparents, a family with children, newlyweds, and still dating), this program uses each as a vehicle for explicitly raunchy sex and toilet jokes, like extended commentary on the state of a new mother’s genitals post-delivery, or a father regaling his college-age son with the story of how he lost his virginity.   

    Allegedly, this program is about “savoring these little pieces of time that flash by but stay with you forever, because these moments add up to what life’s all about”…but are these really the only moments today’s TV writers think are worth remembering?

    Life in Pieces premieres Monday, September 21st at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.



    Angel from Hell on CBS

    Actress Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester on Glee) brings her patented obnoxious bully schtick to her new role…as an angel.

    A young woman named Alison runs into Amy, an eccentric older woman who claims she is Alison’s guardian angel. She proves her bona fides by recounting the first time Alison had an orgasm. Nor is Amy’s other advice particularly angelic, consisting of comments like “let some random guy take you to o-town,” and urging Alison to start her Sunday morning by getting drunk. Angel from Hell is a crude, obnoxious, and insulting “comedy” that’s far from heavenly. “From Hell” is right.


    Angel from Hell premieres Thursday, November 5th at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.




    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    6 Responses to PaleyFest Recap: The Best and Worst New Shows of 2015

    1. Simon Tarses
      October 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Somebody said it best about all of this:

      ‘Censorship and the illusion of control are definitely the best weapons parents have in the Communications Age, when “your kids” have access to literally everything ever written, photographed or filmed in all of history—if not on “your kids’” phone, then on one of their friend’s.

      Pretending you can control what your kids see is probably the worst mistake you can make as a parent, because it utterly isolates and disempowers you from having any influence over how they THINK about what they will inevitably see.

      Here’s just one example: Look up “The Holocaust” on Wikipedia. This is a search I have no doubt hundreds of millions of children make every school year, and I also have no doubt you will be utterly shocked at what you see. (Make sure you click on all the photo and video links at the bottom—you know your kids will.)

      Welcome to the Communications Age, in which you have but two choices as a parent: Kids that pretend they’ve never seen graphic sex, violence and horror to placate their parents… or kids who are comfortable discussing what they’ve seen with their parents.

      The choice is yours.’

    2. sjh
      October 4, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Thank you for your review. It is so difficult to find age appropriate programming, let alone anything worth watching at all. Shock value has no creativity or humour. Just empty self serving garbage. I would like to have some of the shows that had content beyond “everything leads to sex” as today’s programs seem to. In reference to comments stating the need to have open sex on so many programs; that is ridiculous. Life is not minimalized to sexual functions any more than any other basic bodily function. And it’s certainly not entertainment.

    3. sjh
      October 4, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Thankyou for your detailed reviews. In this jaded rea it is good to have a mature point of view.

    4. Random Conway
      September 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you for your list. I would have totally overlooked Life In Pieces. I’ve raised my teens to be mature and capable of enjoying all different kinds of fiction in addition to teaching them about the history of the Sexual Revolution of the 1970s. I imagine that there is still a very strong possibility that the show is terrible and concentrates on things to titillate and entertain immature adults who are neurotically embarrassed and afraid of basic human sexuality, as most sexually suggestive ‘entertainment’ today is, but I will at least give it a watch to see if it might help my kids understand what society was like when most people weren’t as neurotic and immature as they are today. Whether I like it or not, I don’t expect they will enjoy it much though. Unlike children raised in households that hide and try to eliminate sexuality from their lives, my kids simply aren’t obsessed with everything sexual, they have actual substantive interests. Sex is just a bodily function to them, and they’re more concerned with finding someone they can connect with and have a deeply meaningful relationship with rather than just finding someone that will let them in their pants.

    5. Luanne Miller
      September 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      I’m thrilled to have the Muppets back on Tv. I hope they will keep it clean. There are so many shows on now that aren’t they should find a large audience of viewers looking for what they can provide.

      • Joshua
        October 4, 2015 at 6:59 am

        Don’t count on it. The previews alone are enough to make me not watch.

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