Television

Must-See *Broadcast* TV?: "Fisting, Anal Sex, Penis Pictures"

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Forget premium cable channels such as HBO, Showtime, and "Skinemax." According to the bluenoses at The Parents Television Council (PTC), ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC are the new showcases of depravity.

It's clear that explicit jokes and boundary-pushing storylines are changing the definition of what sexual content is acceptable in prime­time. Out are love triangles and awkward dates. In are jokes about anal sex, "fisting" and teen masturbation that Parents Television Council president Tim Winter says are "absolutely inappropriate for primetime broadcast television."…

Fox's New Girl season premiere featured Zooey Deschanel repeatedly muttering "sex fist!" as an expression for the roommates' quest to hook up at a wedding. Multiple fisting jokes followed — as did episodes where the gang got stoned and Deschanel dated a guy with a micropenis…. Over on Fox's The Mindy Project, nearly an entire episode focused on Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina debating whether he "slipped" and attempted to, ahem, go in the back door. That led to discussions of sexual positions, including the "necktie," "ascot" and "bagpipe."…

[The] 10 p.m. drama How to Get Away With Murder featured a character saying, "He did things to my ass that made my eyes water" and ended an episode with Viola Davis asking, "Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?"…

The Hollywood Reporter hypothesizes that tougher and tougher competition for eyeballs—whether watery from ass play or dry as a [insert Golden Girls joke here]—from cable is goosing the race to the bottom.

What's behind the trend? Competition with cable, of course, and a desire by low-rated shows such as Mindy and New Girl to cause a stir (for the most part it hasn't worked). Some say network censors have pushed back less often now that FCC fines are few and far between, though one top exec downplays the hoopla. "As lines blur between broadcast, basic cable and premium cable, there may be a concentration of pushing sexual boundaries in certain shows," he says. "But it is hardly a mandate or a trend."

Read the whole story.

Note the parenthetical above: for the most part it hasn't worked. Doesn't that solve the problem right there? People who want to watch "raunchy" TV can and are doing so. And those who don't want to watch don't have to and are clearly skipping such fare.

Years ago, the former head of the FCC Kevin Martin complained to Congress:

"You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don't want[….] But why should you have to?"

Let me suggest that we've grown up as a country in at least two ways. First, we're more comfortable with adult themes (in ways that extend beyond sex, too) in our popular entertainments. And second, most of us have moved on from the "but why should you have to" mind-set and are ready, willing, and able to take command of our personal mediascapes. Hell, let's throw in a third: Given that 90 percent-plus of us get our TV via cable and satellite, the distinction between broadcast TV, whose content is regulated by the FCC, and cable, whose content is not, no longer makes any possible difference. As former FCC chairman Michael Powell told Reason back in 2004, the always-arbitrary distinction between broadcast media and other forms never made sense logically, especially since it meant radically different standards related to First Amendment protections. Only the most rock-headed can still pretend the distinction makes any sort of operational sense.

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  1. “You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don’t want[….] But why should you have to?”

    Absolutely. The burden should always be on those who want freedom, and everything should be run to make the right not to be offended as easy to protect as possible.

    1. So… to the former FCC chairman, you’re just supposed to sit in front of the TV and watch whatever the hell is on? You’re not expected to search for something you want to watch and, if you find nothing, turn off the TV and go do something else?

  2. Only the most rock-headed can still pretend the distinction makes any sort of operational sense.

    Precisely. Which is why the FCC is moving to take over regulation of cable and internet.

    1. Never underestimate the rock-headedness of our government bureaucrats.

  3. “discussions of sexual positions, including the “necktie,” “ascot” and “bagpipe.”…

    How am I missing all these discussions? (And WTF are these?)

    1. You have to watch programs like “New Girl” which I would not recommend for puposes of sanity.

  4. Over on Fox’s The Mindy Project, nearly an entire episode focused on Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina debating whether he “slipped” and attempted to, ahem, go in the back door.

    There once was a girl from Brighton
    Whose boyfriend said “My that’s a tight one!”
    She said “You poor soul
    “You’ve got the wrong hole
    “But there’s plenty of room in the right one!”

    1. end blockquote… damn

      1. Looks like I was looking for the Friday Funny, but will be settling for the limerick.

  5. And second, most of us have moved on from the “but why should you have to” mind-set

    If the feminist proscriptions against anti-rohypnol nailpolish, self-defense classes, and gun ownership speak to anything, it’s the militant desire to eschew personal responsibility in this glorious new world of socialized accountability.

    1. Yeah, I relly don’t see too many people moving on from the “but why should we have to mindset.” Just the opposite: it seems more and more people are embracing it as yet another means to never have to take any responsibility for their own fucking lives.

    2. feminist proscriptions against anti-rohypnol nailpolish

      Their really against this? I mean, it may be imperfect but I think something like this could be good for anyone. Also, I have a difficult time believing that anyone could be so against taking even the most mundane extra step to better protect themselves. Oh, wait. They are also progs and want nothing to do with personal responsibility.

      1. There was some ruffled feathers from the usual suspects when the product was announced. Women shouldn’t need to protect themselves, teach criminals not to commit crimes.

  6. I liked the first 3 seasons of new girl.

    1. That show looks all kinds of dumb. I’m assuming you were high on the gasoline fumes you use as lubricant for sex with florida woman.

      1. Well yeah, but the show is also funny.

    2. My wife is a fan. The sex fist episode was actually really funny.

      1. There is nothing funny about a sex fist.

        1. Great name, by the way. Great movie.

          1. Thank you!

          2. It is always a toss up with Shaun of the dead vs hot fuzz as my favorite Simon peg movie.

            1. It is Hot Fuzz for me because of the high amount of small moments like this one: http://imgur.com/dQWQJib?tags

              Warning: Gif. I am in a link mood.

              1. “Don’t go being a twat!”

            2. It’s impossible to choose. The word-for-word recalls of earlier dialogue in Dead is hilarious.

            3. To be honest, lately I’m leaning more and more on World’s End. I watch all three semiannually, but I most look forward to the last.

      1. On looks only? Sure, sign me up.

        But she’s a vegan.

        1. All attractive women adopt some kind of stupid dietary restriction. The trick is finding one who doesn’t insist that you adopt it too.

          1. There’s stupid, and then there’s stupidest.

            My apologies to any vegans (but not really).

            1. My brother-in-law is dating a vegan. Super nice but I hate dining out with her. We have to check the menu before we can decide on where to eat.

              1. I always ask vegans, “If you love animals so much why are you eating all their fucking food?”

              2. My brother-in-law is dating a vegan.

                Your sister might want to know about that.

                1. Scratch that. Brain fart. Your wife’s brother.

                  1. Congratulations PM. You had me confused for a minute.

                    1. Cut him some slack, he’s sleep deprived.

                2. I thought the same thing, Playa. I only have sisters so when I hear brother-in-law and automatically think “my sister’s husband.”

                  1. Same trap, but it’s because my wife comes from a family of 5 girls.

                    When I read that, I thought “Poor girl, her husband is stepping out on her. With a vegan!!!”

          2. Yeah like those exist.

            1. Eh, my wife doesn’t eat pork, and she isn’t really bothered by rib night.

              1. Is this metaphor?

                1. It’s a metaphor for me getting a double helping of ribs.

        2. I’d eat that vegan

  7. “necktie,” “ascot” and “bagpipe.”

    Okay, I had to Google and even Urban Dictionary didn’t have ascot, unless it’s “ass got”, which isn’t really even dirty.

    Kids these days.

    Oh wait…it’s the kids who make these terms up. The same kids we are supposed to be protecting from hearing dirty words.

    Fucking Puritans gonna Puritan.

    1. “When I was young we only had three sex positions, and you were lucky if one came in really well!!”

    2. And as for “necktie”, what kind were they refering to? A Cincinnati necktie? A Kung Fu necktie?

      1. A Chocolate necktie? A Nashville necktie? Jesus man, details!

        (Fuck you reason and your stupid limit on number of hyperlinks in a comment.)

        1. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll stick with the simple elegance of a pearl necklace.

    3. It’s possible “ascot” doesn’t actually mean anything, and the joke is the concept of an undefined, yet more extravagant version of the “necktie”.

  8. That led to discussions of sexual positions, including the “necktie,” “ascot” and “bagpipe.”…

    When I was a kid I wouldn’t have gotten the joke anyway. I probably would have just been wondering why they went off on an un-funny riff about men’s fashion and an annoying musical intrument and why my parent are stifling laughter.

    Kind of like Night Court. When I was young I didn’t get most of the “dirty” jokes anyway. It wasn’t until year later that I realized why my parents were stifling laughter at things that seemed non-sensical before.

    1. Night Court had dirty jokes?

      1. Night Court had dirty jokes?

        Really? Bull was a walking dildo.

      2. By ’80s standards. Today it would be considered pretty tame.

      3. All I remember about that show was Bull saying he understood what they lyrics to Horse With No Name meant.

    2. Markie Post in a bathing suit.

      She is the visual approximation of “sex fist.”

      Also, Bill Clinton totally snogged her, which is awesome.

    3. When I was a kid I loved Three’s Company because I enjoyed John Ritter’s physical comedy. Stumbled across some reruns on cable and holy cow that was a dumb show.

      1. Re: sarcasmic,

        Stumbled across some reruns on cable and holy cow that was a dumb show.

        Meh, the first three seasons were OK, I guess. I actually learned to understand spoken English watching that show (along with The Price is Right) because the actors speak it so clearly. That should tell you that I had a very difficult time watching and understanding The Jeffersons.

  9. If this is what new sitcoms are becoming I’ll just stick to repeats of Seinfeld and Futurama, thanks.

    1. Because those shows were never dirty.

      “Please, George, not the knuckle…”

      1. Of course but certain shows have class. These new ones sound like they don’t. I could be wrong but I have little interest in finding out anyway. Now get off my lawn.

  10. Can’t seem to find my Friday Funny this morning. What the eff gives?

  11. …from cable is goosing the race to the bottom.

    You still got it, Nick. Good work.

  12. Anyway, if you want inoffensive twaddle, might I recommend Two Broke Girls? I guarantee you’ll never appreciate your raunchy cable flicks more than after a few episodes of that insipid trash. I had to concentrate through the haze of a bad hangover to channel all the hatred I could muster hoping the characters would aspirate on their vomitous dialogue.

  13. And here is yet another reason I no longer have a TV: simple references to naughty things is now considered humor.

    1. You do realize that there is a wide variety of different things on TV right? Pro sports, nature documentaries, classic shows from the past, new shows that range in quality from okay to excellent.

      Plus there are other things you can do with your TV, like watch movies and play video games.

      This being libertopia and all, you are of course free not to own a TV if that is your wish. You are not, however, allowed to say so without sounding like a clueless douchesack.

      1. Ouch!

      2. Perhaps you missed it, but I said, “YET ANOTHER REASON…”

        I don’t need a TV to watch movies or even series these days, blissfully without commercials (on the Internet — perhaps you’ve heard of it). But paying a monthly bill for access to everything out there via cable or satellite is a waste of money.

        And my main point stands: the mere act of referencing “taboo” things should not be considered.

        So sorry that my lack of a television offends you.

        1. So sorry that my lack of a television offends you.

          People would get more defensive when they learned that I didn’t have TV than when they learn that I’m a libertarian.

        2. It’s not your lack of a television, it’s the smug repetitive bragging about not having a television, especially when you are just using your computer as a substitute for a television. IOW, It’s reflexive anti-hipster revulsion.

          1. Eh, people are more sensitive about things that are further from their comfort zone. When I didn’t have a TV, I was very careful about not being “that guy”, but people are actually quite weird about it. The average conversation went like this:

            Them:”Did you see XXXXXX last night? ”
            Me:”Nah, I was doing YYYYY instead”
            Them: “oh, you Haaaaave to watch it, it’s the best ever! It’s on ZZZZZ channel at 7 o clock. Do you have a DVR? ”
            Me: ” no, I don’t have TV”
            *slightly confused and shocked expression*
            Them: “oh, well I don’t watch it that much. I just have cable for sports and a couple shows. The rest is crap”
            *guilty look on their face*

            I really didn’t give a flying flip about people watching TV, but it became really weird how folks would try to justify their TV habits to me if they knew I didn’t have TV.

    2. And yet you’re on Hit N Run. Nothing “naughty” here. No siree!

      1. Uh, he’s saying references are considered per se humorous without having to contain actual humor. Meet the Spartans style humor – look, a thing from pop culture! Laugh!

        1. If you feel the need to give a seriously explanation in response to a glib joke, you may have had a funectomy during childhood or been born without humor. I believe they have pills for this now that can help you to live a normal, well balanced life. Please see your physician for details.

      2. I think his point is that the supposed humor of simply mentioning something “naughty” really isn’t that funny. I tend to agree, and that’s why I almost never watch sitcoms anymore. Awkward sexual tension was a lot more funny as a teenager. Mentioning sex and considering it a joke is all played out at this point. The shock value is long gone, and people can get their raunch on in a thousand different ways that don’t stop at mere innuendo.

        But hey, I’m all for people broadcasting whatever the fuck they want, so I have no ill feelings toward them.

    3. I’ll be off your lawn as soon as I finish giving your wife a Louisiana piledriver.

    4. Penis.

    5. That is not the totality of many of these jokes. For one thing, a simple reference to naughty things delivered in the wrong setting can be funny. People nonchalantly discussing “extreme” naughty things can be funny, as the expectation is that it is not for polite discussion and is supposed to be shameful. The context surrounding the character who talks about it, or the specific image conveyed by it, can be funny. Etc. etc.

      1. Can be, yes. However, it’s been the bread and butter of most sitcoms for 25 years. The intended tension that makes it funny is completely gone unless you’re 15 or really sheltered. It would be orders of magnitude more shocking to have a virgin character who wasn’t a socon strawman than to have all the characters rattle off tired double entendre all night.

        1. For some shows. My understanding is Two Broke Girls is mostly just repeating innuendo and stereotypes. And while I haven’t yet seen much of New Girl, the critical consensus is that it’s generally smart and funny. Pretty much every great comedy of the past 25 years traffics in innuendo. Arrested Development conjured some of the filthiest mental images of network television.

  14. There’s no such thing as making an actual sex fist, unless you’re Warty

      1. The recipe for a sex fist is: one part tequila, one part water-soluble lubricant, and fifteen parts self-loathing.

  15. Rather than having less content that’s edgy, offensive, or niche, it seems like the solution is to have more content that’s safe, tepid, and broad. If there’s such a demand for it, then it’s more likely than ever to be served.

    1. Nobody wants innocuous, lukewarm content anymore; must be a market failure.

      1. I think the biggest problem is that for some reason Fox decided to force Mindy Kaling down our throats. How can she possibly appeal to a large audience?

        1. Apparently pretending ugly chicks are funny is “feminism.”

          1. TIWTANLW

      2. I actually think there is a market failure in media. Look, Fox News dominates the ratings yet for decades before that there was no news geared toward conservatives. Why? Did it just take that long for some prospective entrepreneur to figure out all those conservatives hated the nightly news? Doubtful. The real reason is there’s more political power in influencing people through the content of the media than there is in the economic power you get by filling consumer demand. Of course, that’s only the case because the government is so massive, so it’s only a “market failure” in the same sense that moral hazard from bank bailouts is a market failure, aka, the kind that wouldn’t happen in a free market.

    2. That sounds like you are expecting market forces to produce things that people want. That sounds like imperialist running-dog counter-revolutionary talk, comrade.

    3. One of the many lame justifications I’ve heard is that there would be more wholesome content if Hollywood was constrained from making unwholesome content, but again this devolves into control.

  16. 1) Find remote

    2) Change channel

    Gee, that was easy.

    1. But how does that involve vigorously stroking their ban boners?

  17. What would the Parents Television Council recommend?
    7th Heaven?

    1. Cute girls and Stephen Collins? I am in!

    2. Bad Touched by an Angel?

      1. I always called it Touched by an Uncle

    3. Matlock and In the Heat of the Night. And after the kids are asleep, Walker, Texas Ranger.

  18. Eight Is Enough (but six is better)?

  19. I remember re-watching a old episode of the cartoon Justice League awhile back, and there’s an oral sex joke at the very start. It’s fairly subtle and I don’t think children would’ve got it, I certainly didn’t understand it as a kid. There’s also a hilarious bit where a 1950s superhero says to Green Lantern (who’s black) “You’re a tribute to your race!”

    Perhaps modern shows lack the subtly of 90s superhero cartoons.

    1. I also recall a great bit from that show where the Flash brags about being “the fastest man alive” and Wonder Woman snarks “Oh, is that why you can never get a date?”

      1. In fact, a lot of those 90’s shows were filled with stuff like that. It was in keeping with the old philosophy on animated shows (going back to the original Bugs Bunny cartoons and stuff) that you would have silly slapstick animals for the kids, but the dialogue and jokes were geared for adults.

        This is the one that I was always completely amazed they were able to sneak past the censors:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xmAC9Qu908

        1. The first appearance of Tweety, one of the cats says he’d give the other cat the bird if not for the censors.

  20. “You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don’t want[….] But why should you have to?”

    *Something about free speech*

  21. First, we’re more comfortable with adult themes (in ways that extend beyond sex, too)

    Speak for yourself. I have a kid who is asking questions. Fortunately, there are still shows we can all watch that are somewhat wholesome, like The Middle and The Goldbergs. Or reruns of old Irving Allen shows on MeTV.

    1. “MeTV”? This is exactly why we need al la carte cable options. So I don’t have to subsidize your mediocre, wholesome television.

      1. Re: Dweebston,

        Go ahead and negotiate with your cable provider. I am glad I can afford a buffet of channels to provide my family with wholesome entertainment… along with Brazilian Butt Lift infomertials.

        1. Go ahead and negotiate with your cable provider.

          Oh, you only want specific channels? Oh, that’s too bad…

          Sorry about the crappy video camera filming some douchsack’s TV like a bad bootleg movie, it’s the only clip I could find on youtube.

        2. Brazilian Butt Lift infomercials

          The Samba Tornado is…distracting.

      2. Why do pther people have to subsidize your mediocre edgy television?

        I think there’s a lot of frustration that there is not a lot between shows explicitly for kids and ones that are for adults. Hollywood does not seem onterested in filling that market.

  22. “Dad, people put things into their butts? Please explain further.

    1. Cartman: Okay, now keep with me here, it gets a little complicated. If you eat food and crap out your butt, then maybe if you stuck food up your butt, you would crap out your mouth.

      [Long silence]

      Cartman: Mm?

      Kyle: Cartman, that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said! This week.

  23. “I’m so tired of all this sex on TV. I mean, I keep falling off!”

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