• TLC’s Schlock-And-Awe Gambit

    by  • October 7, 2015 • Advertiser Accountability, Cable Choice, Misrated, Ratings Reform, Sex • 1 Comment



    It’s becoming an increasingly common phenomena that networks with uninteresting shows to pedal will try to gin-up interest by giving the show a sleazy, jaw-droppingly inappropriate name.

    Sex in Public is one of those shows.

    The premise is that a therapist goes undercover and ambushes strangers in public spaces, trying to get them to talk about their sex lives, later revealing that their conversation was captured on camera.

    This is not TV’s first sex/relationship advice show. Going back to the ‘80s there was Dr. Ruth, in the ’90s there was Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla, more recently, the Berman sisters. All of these programs dealt in fairly explicit terms with sexual relations; but you at least got the sense that, even when the shows took an unserious tone, there was genuine concern for the relational, medical and mental health of those seeking help.

    You don’t get that sense with Sex in Public. Instead, a woman ambushes strangers in public places and embarrasses them by urging them to talk among strangers about their private business.

    In the first episode, Jill Dictrow, the relationship therapist at the heart of this show, sits in a massage chair between a young man and woman and encourages them to show her their “sex faces.”

    Jill: “Have you ever wondered what it was like to have sex with him?”

    Natasha: “Yes and he has too.”

    Jill: “Is that your sex face? That’s your sex face. Do you want to see mine? Watch, you can see mine now.”

    Jill begins moaning in the massage chair and screams “Oh, yes!”

    Jill: “Isn’t that great, now let’s see your sex face.”

    Jill: “Call out her name, ‘Natasha.’”

    Man: “Oh, Natasha!”

    Jill: “They’re gonna have sex tonight.”

    It’s laughable to claim that this is serious relationship help.

    In another scene, she ambushes a young woman in a bridal shop and really gets to the heart of her relationship problems by asking deep, probing questions, like, “So is [your African-American boyfriend] well hung?” and, “Has anyone done, you know, S&M?”

    Because, well, why wouldn’t that be the first thing you ask a person you’ve just met?

    This isn’t even the most tawdry of the content. There’s also numerous “f-bombs,” vulgar slang references to oral sex, the list goes on… And it was all rated as appropriate for your 14-year-old.

    Jill Dictrow might be a licensed credentialed professional, but she doesn’t do her profession credit by carrying-on as she does on this show, which puts the advice she dispenses on about the same level as friends dishing about their love lives over lunch or cocktails – except that even there, there’s a preexisting relationship, and a basis of mutual trust and understanding.

    TLC used to be better than this. It can be again. But not if they continue to air schlock-and-awe programming like Sex in Public.  

    Oh, and a part of your cable bill is paying for it. Whether you watch or not.

    Sex in Public was sponsored by: 


    Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
    Mr. Gregory Lee, President and CEO

    Care.com, Inc.
    Ms. Caroline Shev, Chief Marketing Officer

    Ikea Holdings Us, Inc.
    Mr. Mike Ward, President

    Newell Rubbermaid
    Mr. Richard Davis, Chief Marketing & Insights Officer

    J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
    Ms. Darcie Brossart, VP, Corporate Communications

    Graco Inc.
    Mr. Glenn Will
    Chief Operating Officer




    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 TLC’s Schlock-And-Awe Gambit

    1. Galen Grulke
      October 9, 2015 at 7:21 am

      TLC I know you don’t really care (because you already know) that there are people like me who are extremely opposed to shows like this one that take God’s beautiful gift of sexuality and make it a mockery by tossing it into the gutter of profanity and pornography. But, like so many in the media know, sex and porn sell…but I’m not buying it or watching TLC…

      Galen Grulke

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