• Misrated TV Show: Truth Be Told on NBC

    by  • November 9, 2015 • Broadcast Decency, Misrated, Sex, Sexualization • 8 Comments


    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.



    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.

    8 Responses to Misrated TV Show: Truth Be Told on NBC

    1. Renee Liebig
      November 15, 2015 at 6:29 am

      Enough is enough!! Have the writers, directors, actors, etc. have no families ? no loved ones who will see such garbage? Study after study has shown the terrible effect these kinds of shows have on our children, on our society. Have they no consciences? Are they not aware of all the horrible things happening to children in our country? sexual abuse? domestic violence? human trafficking? How can anyone deny the effects these shows full of sewer content are having on our culture? How can these people sleep at night knowing full well what they have put out on the public airways, consumed by impressionable youth, as well as immature value devoid adults? Until the vast majority of Americans return to personal responsibility, a moral high ground, common decency as well as the courage to speak out for for what is good and wholesome, we will continue as a culture to slide into decay. And all who don’t understand need simply to study world history.

      • Bill Lannis
        November 21, 2015 at 5:54 am

        Look at the people running Hollyweird. It’s always been their turf, and their most successful tool yet in enslaving us. They’ve never had anyone’s best interests in mind except their own, exclusively.

      • Sara
        November 25, 2015 at 2:39 am

        “Until the vast majority of Americans return to personal responsibility, a moral high ground, common decency as well as the courage to speak out for for what is good and wholesome, we will continue as a culture to slide into decay. And all who don’t understand need simply to study world history.”

        I agree with you. I believe the cultural decay has been a calculated Hollywood effort for decades now. But what could possibly cause Americans to reverse direction and take the moral high ground? I don’t know, do you?

    2. Pauline
      November 13, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      Let little boys be little boys but let little girls lose their innocence as soon as possible. I think this show is part of the relentless specialization of childhood by radio tv and film.

    3. Sara
      November 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      It’s funny that “All in the Family” tackled “racial comedy” 40+ years ago, but it was actually well-written and mature (not locker room potty and porn humor). That’s why it was the #1 rated show of the 70s. I think there’s a lack of writing talent and a lack of writer maturity when a show with potential has to go in the direction of gutter material like porn “jokes” and a little girl making references to various genitalia (cue laugh track).

      • moax429
        November 15, 2015 at 9:36 am

        But, thanks to “All in the Family” TV began its slow descent into the gutter 44 years ago (and I *still cannot* stand that show to this day).

        If “All in the Family” hadn’t reared its ugly head, then maybe we wouldn’t be seeing such trash like “Truth Be Told” now.

        • Jen
          November 16, 2015 at 12:47 pm

          You can’t blame “All in the Family” for the indecent stuff on TV today … it’s beyond trash!
          The Kardashians – the two youngest kids cuss like sailers – ON TV – Kloe swims practically in the nude and had (and up on billboards) her posing IN THE NUDE … They aren’t on mainstream TV – but it is on at 8 pm and KIDS WATCH IT! I don’t know WHAT MOTHER would even allow her kids to talk the way her kids talk – except that SHE (KRIS ) TALKS THAT WAY TOO!!! What is interesting is that Kourtney (the oldest) has a little class and even KIM K. is quite and careful about what she says. It’s the others who are UNCENSORED!! I wish they would take all that reality junk off TV. I say we all start working on these shows too!!

          • moax429
            November 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

            I do agree with you about the examples mentioned.

            But Norman Lear *did* help get the indecency ball rolling to a degree. And he just smirked about it, if I remember correctly.

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