For sexualized language rated appropriate for young children, NBC’s Truth Be Told (Fridays, 8:30 p.m. ET) has consistently been Misrated.
At its premiere during the Paley Center for Media’s Fall Preview, NBC’s new comedy Truth Be Told appeared to be firmly based on the concept of a neurotic, politically-correct, progressive white college professor named Mitch’s habit of talking openly with his close African-American friend Russell about racial and ethnic stereotypes, pulling no punches as they did so. This concept had two drawbacks: racial and ethnic comedy is still a sensitive subject to most people, who probably aren’t eager to see derogatory stereotypes portrayed on prime-time TV; and, conversely, such “comedy” has already lost its ability to shock after having been done to death in literally dozens of comedy specials airing on cable.
If less than ideal, this did seem the kind of mildly “edgy” concept beloved by Hollywood scriptwriters. But what the show has actually delivered is of far greater concern. Since its beginning, every episode of Truth Be Told aired thus far contains blatantly sexual dialogue. This also is nothing new, save for one fact: in the majority of the episodes aired, a little girl is involved in some way with the seamy sexual content.
For example, Truth Be Told’s first episode (October 16, rated TV-PG DL) revolved around Mitch’s suspicion that the “hot new babysitter” hired to give his wife Tracy a night out also stars in pornographic movies, a fact brought to his attention by his friend Russell:
Russell: “Mitch, your wife signed off on the hot babysitter, what’s the problem?”
Mitch: “She’s hot. The first rule of marriage is, the best boobs in the house should belong to…”
Russell: “Your babysitter does porn. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her bagina.”
Mitch: “I have to be absolutely sure that you saw our babysitter doing porn before I destroy her reputation with Tracy.”
Russell types and narrates while searching for the porn video. The computer is facing them and opposite of the audience.
Russell: “Amateur. Inter-racial. Orgy. Here it is.”
Russell and Mitch watch as pornography music begins playing.
Mitch: “That’s not her. That’s not her.”
Russell: “Don’t celebrate just yet, cowboy. Did you not hear me type ‘Orgy?’”
Mitch: “Pizza delivery, really? $10 says when he opens that box there’s gonna be a…”
The music continues to play and a man’s voice is heard saying, ‘Did somebody order pizza?’
Russell: “That’s her. That’s her.”
Mitch: “Is it?”
Russell: “I think so.”
Mitch: “It’s hard to tell, you only see her face for, like, 3 seconds. Can you freeze it on her?”
Russell: “What is she playing, pleasure or pain?”
Soon, Mitch confesses his suspicions to their wives…leading all four to sit in the car and watch pornography, rather than going to the concert as they planned.
Angie: “It’s her, she’s totally got Kimberly’s vaguely Asian cheek bones.”
Tracy: “No this girl’s got some black in her.”
Russell: “Oh you better believe she…”
Angie: “Don’t say it.”
Tracy pulls up her cell phone and begins checking Kimberly’s Facebook profile to compare with the porno.
Russell: “Oh, click on that video of her on the log ride. How ironic is that?”
Added to a plot centered on a little girl’s babysitter as a porn actress is the fact that the little girl, Sadie, is herself given dialogue referencing her genitals:
Sadie: “Daddy I have a rash.”
Mitch: “Oh no, sweetie, where’s your rash?”
Sadie: “On my bagina. Daddy, do you have a bagina?”
The next episode (October 23, TV-14 DL), though eschewing involvement by little girls, again featured a plot centered on pornography. This time, Russell gets tickets to the Adult Film Awards, and as a result, has fans sending him nude pictures of themselves. (What is it with this show’s creators and pornography? Is EVERYONE working in Hollywood constantly obsessed with pornography?)
Finally, the October 30 episode (TV-PG DL) AGAIN featured little girls involved with sex. This time, Mitch babysits Sadie and their neighbor’s little girl Maya. When Mitch brings them over to Russell’s house for help, little Maya wanders upstairs and sees Russell naked in the shower…causing her to begin drawing pictures of male genitalia.
- Russell showers when the Goldman’s daughter Mia enters the bathroom, his groin only concealed by a small towel.
- Dressed as a snowman to please the kids, Russell jumps off the stairs, his pants ripping, exposing his groin but obscured for the audience by a black box.
Angie: “Walked into the house next door and upstairs into the bathroom to see her very first BBC?”
Avi: “Yeah, well, this morning Maya drew a picture of a naked man and his schvantz.”
Mitch: “Your daughter saw his penis.”
One has to wonder about Truth Be Told’s – and NBC’s – obsession with nudity, pornography, and little girls somehow being involved with both. And while all those things just might, conceivably, be subjects for comedy, there is no possible way such “comedy” ought to be rated TV-PG, appropriate for children younger than age 14!
Unsurprisingly, viewers have stayed away from Truth Be Told in droves. As reported by Variety, “In its first three airings, Truth Be Told was the lowest-rated of any series on the Big Four networks this fall. The show was scheduled to be in production until late November, but then the network cut the episode order from 13 to 10, [and] less than two weeks after NBC cut the episode order of its fall freshman comedy Truth Be Told, the sitcom’s set has been struck.”
Maybe if the show offered more than a queasu combination of nudity, pornography, and cute little girls, it would not have been the “lowest-rated” new fall comedy. And maybe if NBC respected parents and didn’t rate adult content appropriate for young children, more people would tune into the network to begin with.
Now, THAT’s a Truth that needs to Be Told.
Fisher Price – which sells toys to toddlers — sponsored this program, which involves toddlers with genitalia and pornography. To contact them with your concerns, click here.