• Freeform: Sex Ads on Harry Potter

    by  • March 15, 2017 • Cable Choice, Sex • 11 Comments


    The cable network airs sex-filled promos even during shows aimed at kids.

    Even back when it was called “ABC Family,” the Disney-owned network now known as “Freeform” was never truly family-friendly. From its drunken, sex-crazed frat-boy program Greek, to the pre-teen sex on Switched at Birth, to the cracked zirconia in the network’s tarnished crown, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, ABC “Family” was pretty much all teenage sex, all the time. And under its new name, Freeform is continuing the trend, making its programming crasser and more explicit than ever.

    But even ABC Family never sank to one depth which Freeform has: airing sexually explicit ads during programming aimed at children. On a recent weekend, Freeform showed a marathon of the Harry Potter films — wildly popular with younger viewers, and guaranteed to draw an audience filled with teens and children.

    Yet during the Harry Potter marathon – comprising eight movies, shown over an entire weekend – every single commercial break began with a promo for Freeform’s “Happy Hour” programming block, consisting of ads for its shows Baby Daddy, Young and Hungry, and The Twins: Happily Ever After.

    Like those programs themselves, the promos were dominated smutty, salacious and crude content.

    Here are some samples of what Freeform thinks is appropriate for an audience of Harry Potter fans:

    • One woman tells another, “You cannot handle purely sexual relationships,” as the second woman is shown falling into bed with a man. “It’s not going to get weird,” she claims – followed by a scene of her boyfriend, naked from the waist down, snapping pictures of his genitals.
    • A black woman sneers at an (outrageously caricatured) gay man, “I still can’t believe you’re playin’ on a softball team. Don’t you play with enough soft, white balls at home?”
    • The same woman shrieks to the same man, “I can’t believe I’m bein’ blackmailed by someone who’s not black. And barely a male.”
    • A blonde woman holds cantaloupes up to her chest and asks, “Are these ripe?” An Asian man shrieks, “Boobies!” and falls backwards.
    • A woman holding a glass of liquor states, “We supposed to start drinkin’ at 9.” “P.M.,” retorts her roommate.
    • One twin sits on a toilet, apparently urinating. She speaks to the other twin, who stands at the bathroom sink. “I had a dream last night – that we got our own TV show.”

    That sounds more like a nightmare – and would be, if it wasn’t true.

    (Masochistic viewers can view the promos themselves here and here.)

    Are nudity, blatant references to breasts and genitals, and homophobic slurs appropriate viewing for an audience of Harry Potter-loving children? Obviously, Freeform thinks so. And no wonder, when children innocently trying to watch a fantasy movie are deliberately deluged by Disney with such sexually-explicit promos.

    This – along with overtly sexualized programming like The Real O’Neals, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and others on ABC, and the more “adult” direction being taken by Disney Channel – demonstrates that, not merely Freeform, but the entire Disney empire, is in danger of going off the rails, and destroying the confidence viewers once had in the formerly family-friendly media giant.



    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.

    11 Responses to Freeform: Sex Ads on Harry Potter

    1. meg
      July 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      watching disney movies with my little cousin and these innapropriate bumpers and ads are not right!

    2. Marsha
      March 22, 2017 at 3:56 am

      Every network needs to know that what they do MATTERS. They have to act responsibly. Airing ads for sex-themed products is not only stupid for the advertisers, but inappropriate and icky when it’s likely that kids will be watching!!!

    3. Justin
      March 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Not surprising from a channel that had a scene of two 13 year old boys kissing in an episode of their series “The Fosters.” Pretty clear what Disney’s agenda is…starts with a P if you need a hint.

    4. Dawn
      March 20, 2017 at 10:57 am

      As a parent, I am continually outraged about the commercials that are being aired during family-friendly programming. There should be a law (or FCC rule?) requiring commercials to be rated like TV shows. That way cable/satellite box content filters could block the bad commercials with that wonderful, safe “black screen”. Even better, there should be an additional law/rule that the commercial rating must be at or below the rating of the television show during which the commercial is being aired.

    5. Danny
      March 19, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Another example of the unrelenting attack on our youth. It is a lie to say, as a country, we love our children in America.

    6. Heather
      March 17, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      I actually complained on their FB site over that HP weekend. All I could think was if the quality of the commercials reflects the quality of the programs, that network will be toast.

    7. Paul Guyer
      March 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Once again, you people talk like it’s OK to have commercial breaks on cable channels in the first place! If I’m paying for a channel I don’t want ANY commercial breaks, especially in the middle of movies! Smart people already have all these movies on disc and can watch them any time uninterrupted!

    8. Cheryl Fendon
      March 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Sexual mature content shows should not be advertised on shows the children will be watching such as Harry Potter. Please be responsible with advertising.

      • Lucile
        June 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        I agree 1000%!!!!!!

    9. Poe
      March 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Freeform’s past name was a remnant of its time as a channel owned by Pat Robertson, which eventually became the Family Channel, then Fox Family, then ABC Family. The only reason they kept that name was because of a rumored contract. As it turns out, there was no such contract, only one regarding the dead-of-night airings of the 700 Club, which is otherwise the only other clue Freeform was, once upon a time, another channel.

      What I’m trying to say is, Freeform is the victim of “channel drift,” when a channel gradually moves away from its original purpose. Heck, MTV is this as well, eliminating music videos for the likes of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom.

      • Paul Guyer
        March 20, 2017 at 3:52 pm

        And the term “Freeform” was originally applied to radio- look up what that defined and you’re sure to agree that this channel does not fit that term in any way, shape or form!

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