NBC’s “found footage” comedy series Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon demonstrates the need for Ratings Reform – by not carrying any rating at all.
In only its second season, NBC’s Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon is, on the surface, as harmless as its forebear America’s Funniest Home Videos (a show that’s somehow still spamming the airwaves on ABC). Caught on Camera follows in the tradition set by AFV, and used more shockingly on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0: a tradition that relies on freely-given footage from the masses for humorous material, and then mines it, providing a stage for a host to comment and ridicule the fantastical events culled from everyday life. Unfortunately, Caught on Camera’s content veers closer to that of Tosh.0, though without the humor and, sadly, without the attendant rating as well.
The weird thing about Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon is the case it makes for network “misrating,” in that it doesn’t have any content rating at all. Apparently, the presumed audience for a show at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays is so low that NBC doesn’t pay attention to what’s slotted there, or just doesn’t care. Or maybe they thought that Caught on Camera didn’t require a rating – except that America’s Funniest features a rating on every episode. Not only that, America’s Funniest also does at least some homework cleaning up the material they’ve scrounged from around the country. Caught on Camera can’t be bothered.
Not surprisingly, this ends up mattering when the primary source for Nick Cannon’s commentary is internet prank videos. Anyone who has any knowledge of such videos knows they feature a cornucopia of swear words, nudity, and in the case of police chase videos, violence. The language alone can sometimes be staggering, requiring strings of bleeps that read to the brain like Morse code, or a Nicki Minaj award speech, rather than a reality show airing in prime time.
Ultimately, the concern isn’t so much that the show airs, or even necessarily its time slot; it’s the disregard for the content rating system that NBC is supposed to implement on its shows. In this sense, the argument can’t even be made that show’s been misrated – because a rating has never even been given!
This is a troubling precedent, and a clear case of the problems inherent in a system which allows a network to rate its own programming. Hopefully, this is a system that will change soon. Or maybe the network is actually correct in assuming that no one’s watching anyway…in which case, you now know what you haven’t been missing.