For its graphic violence and sexual content, the Tuesday, October 27th episode of ABC’s Wicked City is this week’s Misrated TV Show.
Rating: TV-14 DLSV
In recent years, broadcast TV has tried – and repeatedly failed – to replicate the success of Showtime’s graphic serial killer drama Dexter. Stalker, Hannibal, Aquarius, The Following – all were cancelled due to plummeting viewership.
Yet now, the Disney-owned ABC, which previously resisted this trend, has premiered its own serial killer drama, Wicked City. Yet this new program goes even further, mixing explicit sexuality with its scenes of gory violence. Set in the early 1980s on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, Wicked City follows a pair of “Bonnie and Clyde” serial killers and another pair of detectives investigating them.
Wicked City’s creators positively revel in the debasing, grotesque content they have conjured up and are pushing into every home via the airwaves owned by the public. Says producer Amy B. Harris (previously producer of HBO’s Sex and the City):
People who like dark, twisty shows are going to like it,and it’s all set on the sexy Sunset Strip back when there were no consequences and bad behavior ran rampant. There were no consequences! There wasn’t AIDS yet, so people were having sex every which way. There wasn’t crack yet. We were just on the edge of a time where things got darker in terms of scary things that could come along. And in 1982, L.A. was the serial killer capital of the world. It’s a dark, hedonistic party!
Here are some examples of the content from the first episode of Wicked City’s “dark, hedonistic party”:
• A woman’s head pops up out of Kent’s lap when they are in the car. It is implied that they are having oral sex.
Woman: “It’s taking you a while, huh?”
The woman puts her head back down in his lap.
• Kent pulls a knife out and begins stabbing the woman over and over again. Blood sprays all over the interior of the vehicle.
• The detectives investigate the woman’s corpse found in the cemetery. The corpse has been decapitated. Jack finds a blood covered bag of cocaine on the victim’s body.
Jack: “Looks like he slit her jump suit here.”
Eileen: “To have sex with her?”
Paco: “What if he drugged and raped her?”
Jack: “There’s no bruising in the vaginal region. Hell, I’m guessing a post mortem party.”
• Jack and Paco enter the suspect’s apartment and find a box with a woman’s severed head inside.
Naturally, ABC rates this “dark, hedonistic party” as being appropriate for a 14 year old child.
No doubt, this column will be deluged with comments whining, “Be parents. Do your job!” and “If you don’t like it, change the channel!” But such comments utterly miss the point. The points are these:
1) The purpose of TV ratings is to HELP parents “be parents” and “do their job.”
2) TV networks cynically point to the ratings system as an excuse to create graphic, explicit programming not appropriate for all audiences.
3) In defiance of common sense, television networks have been given the power to rate their own television programs. This means they bear the responsibility for rating their programming accurately. However,
4) TV networks are highly motivated to rate their programming incorrectly, and deceive parents about program content.
5) When networks rate their programming incorrectly, parents – who trust and believe the ratings the networks assign – allow their children to watch. This increases viewership and product exposure for the networks. The end result is that…
6) The networks are betraying the trust parents have put in the ratings…ratings the networks tell parents to rely upon to begin with.
In other words, anyone who says “be parents” is ignoring the fact that parents ARE being parents. They are relying on the tools THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY ITSELF says they should use to judge whether or not something is appropriate for children. And those who say “just change the channel” never bother stating just where, exactly, parents are supposed to “change the channel” TO, given that television today is almost uniformly larded with graphic violence and sex.
The biggest point is simply this: whether one likes the program or not, thinks it should be aired or not, can anyone legitimately argue that a program with content like that on Wicked City is ideal viewing for young teen children? Even if you like Wicked City, shouldn’t the TV ratings be more accurate than that?
IHOP sponsored this program. To contact them with your concerns, click here.