If you stopped watching network television awhile ago because it had gotten so bad, you made the correct decision. It has continued to get worse. A few years ago, network television became dominated by cheaply made reality TV shows and talent contests, sitcoms with hyperactive manic characters, and socially liberal themes. Television has always pushed the edge when it comes to socially progressive themes. But at what point does it go too far? Perhaps when there are no other options left during prime time network TV.
The top ten most popular TV shows last fall contained few choices for traditional conservatives, unless they enjoy watching football. The first, fourth and tenth most popular shows were Sunday Night Football, Sunday Night Pre-Kick and The OT (NFL wrap-up) respectively.
The second most popular TV show last fall was Modern Family, which features the lives of three families, including two gay men and their daughter. There is profanity and one episode implied that teenage sex was appropriate. The Big Bang Theory was the third most popular show last fall. The plot is based on the lives of some nerdy guys and a beautiful woman who tries to teach them social skills. It features frequent discussions about sex including masturbation, and is sprinkled with profanity.
The fourth and ninth most popular show was a pseudo-reality voice talent show, The Voice. It features various musical artists as judges, some who are quite trashy. The sixth most popular program, the medical show Grey’s Anatomy, features a lesbian character, profanity and plenty of extramarital sex.
NCIS, which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was the seventh most popular show. It is a drama about investigating crime, and at first glance would seem to be an educational show for those considering a profession in law enforcement. Unfortunately, it contains profanity, plenty of sexual hookups and frequent discussion of kinky sexual fetishes. The Family Guy is an animated show that ranked as eighth most popular. It contains plenty of profanity. One of the children has an ambiguous sexual orientation, and a family neighbor is a sex-crazed bachelor.
The Parents Television Council (PTV) gives The Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Gray’s Anatomy their most serious rating of red, completely unsuitable for children. Modern Family is rated yellow, which may be inappropriate for children. These are just the current crop of popular TV shows; and likely not even the worst within the last 20 or so years. The profane words have become harsher in recent years, and the greatest increase in the use of them has been during the 8 p.m. Eastern “family hour” slot. PTV found that profanity on broadcast television increased 69 percent between 2005 and 2010.
Whether one has a problem with gay sexual orientation or not, why does sex and profanity need to be a theme in so many shows? TV shows with adult themes used to be accessible only on cable television or outside of primetime hours. Now, with the exception of sports shows, it is impossible to sit down with children and watch one of the top ten television shows on network TV without exposing them to sex and profanity. Many adults find the prevalence of sex and profanity offensive. Polls repeatedly show that more than half the population would like stricter controls over the profanity and sex in broadcast television. A significant segment of the population does not want to watch shows laden with gratuitous sex and profanity every evening. As a result, network viewership continues to drop every year. Last fall, ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC combined for a 9 percent drop in viewers in the coveted 18-to-49 age bracket.
The reason there is a disconnect between what people want to watch, and what gets shown, is because wealthy liberal Hollywood elites who produce the shows get to call the shots. The viewers never get an honest choice, because the money is all dumped into the elites’ ideal shows, giving them a huge advantage through advertising, prime time slots, top actors and extra bells and whistles. Most television viewers have never heard of the relatively new show Flashpoint, for example, because it was only carried by limited stations in the late evening. Featuring the members of a highly skilled law enforcement team, it portrayed serious drama that touched upon politically incorrect subjects such as mothers kidnapping their children and Islamic terrorism.
There needs to be more shows during primetime like Flashpoint and V, the science fiction series, which was good, clean, scary alien fun. Or shows like Seinfeld, which poked fun at controversial or taboo subjects instead of taking a position on them. While the influx of musical talent competitions has brought with it some cleaner material, there is no trained acting, it is merely a step above cheaply produced reality shows. Viewers are finally tiring of American Idol.
Until network TV starts reflecting a broader diversity of content, people are going to continue migrating to Facebook and Netflix instead, where they can choose their content. Add in the constant commercials on network TV, and it’s a no-brainer for viewers to make the move away from network TV. If wealthy TV producers want to remain wealthy, they had better start creating shows for those of us who don’t enjoy gratuitous sex and profanity in our living rooms every evening.