On Sunday, May 22nd, NBC followed up its G-rated, family-friendly hit with a graphic discussion of pornography.
Network scheduling is a funny thing. Not laugh-out-loud funny, like a good joke; but funny in the way only absurd, obscure, and entirely capricious things can be. Like the DMV, or airport security. They beg for questions like, “Is anyone actually in charge here?,” “Was this designed by a sociopath?,” and “Who thought this was a good idea?” That’s when the descent into madness begins: trying to decipher the logic that must be hidden behind the curtain. But there’s no wizened old wizard back there, tugging on ropes. At best, there’s something much worse – a committee. And even worse, the buck stops nowhere.
All this can be pretty amusing for those that don’t have to involve themselves with the putative randomness, but for parents whose only option is network TV (those parents who like to know what their kids are watching, at least) non-involvement is not an option.
Which makes it that much harder on a Sunday night, when many families watch television together, to really know what to expect. This is about the time slots, about which shows are placed where, and most of all, about how little the TV content ratings can matter when trying to know what to expect on shows you thought you knew – -especially when they’re placed by shows you feel you can trust. In this case, The Carmichael Show following Little Big Shots.
The Carmichael Show was reviewed favorably in another blog post, although it was recommended only for a certain audience, and with the caveat that the show could delve into some pretty racy topics. By contrast, Little Big Shots is as family-friendly a show as can be found on television today. Outside of one or two errant remarks from Steve Harvey, the show is so clean you could eat off of it, and appeals specifically to young children. Kids as young as toddlers are the centerpiece of the show, which makes it a likely candidate to be favored by families with toddlers — as well as everyone else.
This makes the scheduling questionable, in that no forethought must have been given by anyone at NBC when they aired an episode specifically about pornography on The Carmichael Show — directly after the airing of Little Big Shots on Sunday, May 22nd.
“Well, okay,” one can ask, ‘isn’t The Carmichael Show rated TV-PG D? I mean, how bad could it be?” The answer is: due to its time-period placement, pretty bad. Within the first four minutes of the episode, a conversation between the family erupts when mom Cynthia decries their pastor’s revelation that he views pornography. This prompts her husband Joe to admit to and defend his porn habit, leading his sons to follow suit. A discussion of the validity of using pornography ensues – and continues throughout the episode.
To anyone who watches The Carmichael Show regularly, such a topic would not necessarily come as a surprise, given Carmichael’s proclivity for discussing current, cutting-edge issues. But it probably DID come as a surprise to any family that had just finished watching Little Big Shots, a show starring children just learning to walk. Maybe those kids wouldn’t understand what they were watching, but how about their older brothers and sisters? It’s one thing to say that The Carmichael Show should be permitted to delve into such topics. It’s an entirely other thing to say it should be placed immediately after a show aimed at, and starring, toddlers and young children.
This is indicative of the network scheduling process, the inadequacy of the content rating system, and the broadcast networks’ indifference to parents. Altogether, it’s pretty funny…but not in a laugh-out-loud kind of way.