The new year brings several new shows about which parents should beware.
With the “safety zone” of the Christmas season (during which a large number of family-friendly programs air) now past, the broadcast networks are eagerly turning to their new programing…and some of the new programs contain graphic violence, sex, and profanity which should be of concern to parents. Here are some new shows of which parents should beware:
Star (Fox, Wednesdays 9:00 p.m. ET)
The flip side of Fox’s Empire (which tells the story of the top executives of a record company), Star follows a trio of young women who form a band and try to break into the Atlanta music scene. The lead character’s backstory includes stabbing her foster father after he sexually molests her sister, then the two sisters running from the law – only for the older sister to find employment in a strip club. Sexualization of women is a major focus of the series.Foul language is also a concern, with frequent use of the words “bitch,” “ass,” ‘damn,” and slang terms for women’s anatomy. Underaged drinking and drug use also occur in the series.
The Mick (Fox, Tuesdays 8:30 p.m. ET)
Fox’s own publicity for this alleged “family comedy” boasts that The Mick is “a no-holds-barred comedy that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘dysfunctional family.’” The show centers on Mackenzie “Mickey” Murphy, an irresponsible, thoroughly obnoxious, foul-mouthed, alcoholic ne’er-do-well who crashes a party at her sister’s affluent suburb, originally intending to sponge off her relatives – only to be forced into raising her rich sister’s spoiled kids, when the sister flees the country to avoid a federal indictment. The kids are snotty teen drama queen Sabrina; Chip, an arrogant, entitled neo-conservative 13-year-old (in Hollywood, nothing is more abhorrent than conservative values); and seven-year-old nerd Ben. Trailers for the program show Mickey using little Ben to promote drinking alcohol (“Champagne is the classiest way to vomit,” Mickey notes); making New Year’s resolutions to “drink more” and “get the last 4 digits of my nephew’s social”; and creating an ad campaign with T-shirts labelled “#KidsAreDicks.”
Over the course of the first episode, Mickey drugs Sabrina during a drinking contest; advises Chip to humiliate the school bully by “ripping his pants down and pointing at his tiny pecker” (when Chip follows the advice, the bully beats him up, with Chip remarking his penis “was humungous – I’m lucky he didn’t beat me with THAT!”); and teaches Ben to steal ice cream by starting fires nearby. The kids routinely use words like “bitch,” “ass,” “dick,” and the like – another example of broadcast TV’s tendency toward Trash-Talking Teens.
Given the show’s content, it’s TV-14 rating seems inadequate. Even the Los Angeles Times agrees that the program is “a shallow exercise in provocation…not enough to overcome an unfortunate tendency to mistake vulgar excess for subversive humor,” and states that “This is one of those shows that probably ought to come with a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning.”
Emerald City (NBC, Fridays 9:00 p.m. ET)
This dark, twisted reboot of The Wizard of Oz places the famed children’s story into an overtly menacing world that imitates Game of Thrones. In the show, college student Dorothy Gale is transported to a land of magic where the Wizard, here a dictator, has outlawed magic and faces not only the wrath of the witches who are still alive, but also a looming disaster brough on by a supernatural force.
Violence is the greatest concern in this show. The first episode features Lucas, Emerald City’s surrogate for the Scarecrow, stabbing a woman through the chest, then beating her nearly to death. Lucas himself is discovered earlier on by Dorothy while hanging on a cross, and both are tortured by the Witch of the East using disturbing magical means. Sex is also a concern, with the Witch of the West shown having sex. Language includes uses of “whore” and “damn.” Parents and children should avoid this Yellow Brick Road.
Riverdale (CW, Thursdays 9:00 p.m. ET): Premiering January 26, this program continues the trend of turning beloved children’s properties “edgy” and “grim ‘n gritty.” Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead go the Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liars route into a world of slap-fights, arson, and murder of teenagers. Archie and Jughead are enemies, Betty’s mother is giving her drugs, Cheryl Blossom is hiding something about his brother’s death…oh, and Archie is having an affair with his teacher, Ms. Grundy. In short, not your fathers’ Archie comics…and probably not your children’s, either.