• Action-Adventure and Graphic Serial Killer — Both Rated TV-14

    by  • August 4, 2016 • Misrated, Ratings Reform, Violence • 7 Comments

    A gory serial killer drama receives the same content rating as an innocuous ’80s action show.

    The TV Content Ratings system is broken. Parents should be able to rely on the TV ratings to inform them about program content, and to help them make decisions about safe viewing for their children. But the system today is inconsistent to the point of uselessness, as one example shows.

    Airwolf was a typical 1980s action series. The adventures of the crew of a high-tech helicopter, the program scarcely contained any “violence” worthy of the name. Aerial dogfights, explosions, and the occasional fistfight was as violent as the program ever got. There was never any blood, torture, or graphic gore shown; yet, in reruns today, Airwolf carries the rating TV-14 V.

    By contrast, Fox’s 2013 series The Following was an ultra-graphic serial killer drama which was typified by scenes of a nude woman gouging out her own eyeball with an ice pick;  massacred victims’ bodies strewn about, walls covered in blood and severed hands resting on tables; and a woman posing as a prostitute, luring a married couple into a threesome, then stabbing both with a butcher’s knife while having sex with them. What rating did this content receive? TV-14 V – the same as Airwolf.

    When an innocuous, 30 year-old action series receives the same rating as a horrific, sex-and-gore-soaked program glorifying a cult of serial killers, it is clear the current content ratings system does not work.

    If you have not yet done so, we urge you to sign our petition urging Congress to hold hearings on Ratings Reform.

    To sign the petition, 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.

    7 Responses to Action-Adventure and Graphic Serial Killer — Both Rated TV-14

    1. Guest
      August 17, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      The way I see it TV-Y = Light G, TV-Y7 = heavy G though light PG, TV-Y7-FV = medium level PG, TV-PG = Heavy PG though light PG-13, TV-14 = heavy PG-13 though light R, and TV-MA = heavy R though medium NC-17.

      I am of the opinion that Age ratings should be replaced by a adult content rating system.

    2. sara
      August 10, 2016 at 1:09 am

      You know maybe the problem ISN’T the ratings system but the FCC itself they should either be completely overhauled or abolished altogether! I think that would fix a lot of problems with the current state of TV!

    3. Janel
      August 5, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      The Fox Network seems to thrive on broadcasting shows that push the boundaries of what is allowed on basic tv channels. It is sad that the FCC is not more diligent in fining networks that continuously under rate shows and broadcast indecent content.

      • moax429
        August 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        Quite true.

        I have long since blocked Fox from my channel list. As discussed in another posting, ABC could very well be next.

    4. Eileen Hoover
      August 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Please hold hearings on TV ratings reform. They way they are now is just wrong. Thanks.

    5. CT
      August 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      I don’t think any program on broadcast TV will ever get rated TV-MA. All the TV-MA programs seem to be on cable. It’s a ploy to encourage people to pay for cable TV. “If you don’t like being limited to programs rated TV-14 and lower, get a cable subscription.” That’s something the networks aren’t going to tell you.

      • August 15, 2018 at 11:35 am

        TV-MA shows on broadcast TV DID actually air. It was way back in 1997, when the TV Parental Guidelines were first introduced. NBC decided to air the historical drama Schindler’s List, rated R by the MPAA, completely unedited. This garnered the film a TV-MA(then known as TV-M) rating. NBC repeated the stunt 2 years later in 1999

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *