There’s an article in today’s New York Times about how last week’s episodes of 30 Rock and The Office pushed new boundaries of what is considered acceptable for “family hour” television. You can read the article here:
The basic premise of the article is that by revolving a storyline around a fictional show called “MILF Island”, 30 Rock pushed the boundaries of vulgarity for what has been traditionally considered “family hour” television. The Office did the same when it portrayed characters cursing with the word bleeped out, though the implication of what was said was clear to the viewers.
Are they kidding me? I didn’t even realize there was an hour of television still considered to have appropriate entertainment for all members of the family. How can 8-9 p.m. be considered family hour, when you have Friends, Seinfeld and other mature-audience sitcoms running in syndication between 7 and 8 in half the local markets in the country? I’ve even seen edited versions of Sex and the City during “family hour” on TBS. Yes, it’s edited, but still, it’s a show about S-E-X in the city. When I was teaching middle school, more than half the kids watched Seinfeld. They would joke about “The Contest” and mastering their domains. Sure they didn’t fully understand what it all meant in many cases, but believe me, they were on their way.
But that got me thinking — What else is being shown during “Family Hour?” Hmm, let’s see:
Sundays, NBC is showing old episodes of MONK these days, a show that originally aired Fridays on the USA Network at 10. Saturdays, NBC has LAW & ORDER: Criminal Intent. Wasn’t that originally a 10 p.m. show? My guess, is that unless some thug on these shows has murdered a teletubby, there’s nothing resembling appropriate viewing for children in their contents. Other nights, they’ve got reality programming, including Deal or No Deal and The Biggest Loser. Don’t even get me started on what virtues the latter has to teach America’s youth.
CBS has Big Bang Theory (Hmm, wonder what the joke is about there) and How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights between 8-9. Now I love How I Met Your Mom, but I must say that many weeks I think, this show is hilariously funny, but it should be on an hour later. Not that I’m watching it with the kids, but if I didn’t have TIVO, I wouldn’t be able to. Tuesdays they’ve got NCIS (that show is still ON???) and Wednesdays — big honkin’ no to family-appropriate here — Big Brother 9. (Are you freaking kidding me? 9 ???…seriously – 9 ?) And the list goes on: Thursdays: Survivor, Fridays: Ghost Whisperer (Hey, Kaitlin, why don’t you watch this show with Mom and Dad? You’ll enjoy it almost as much as the week’s worth of night terrors that will follow!) Saturdays: Cold Case, and Sundays, because it’s the Lord’s day: another helping of Big Brother 9: Satan’s Crib.
Honestly, not a one of those would I consider “family programming.”
Do I really need to even tell you what’s on FOX? Also, ABC’s not too bad, as they are, after all, owned by Disney.
Here’s the thing though: None of this bothers me. The real issue is that no matter what your kids watch, you should know what it is they’re watching. Ultimately it’s not up to the networks to offer programming for kids — and hey, most of them don’t even program cartoons on Saturday mornings any more. It’s up to parents to be the gatekeepers of what’s appropriate for their kids. If you’re a parent, and you don’t want them exposed to “MILF Island” or its ilk, there are hundreds of other choices. Take them over to Animal Planet, or National Geographic, Noggin, or Cartoon Disney. The possibilities are almost limitless…assuming, of course, you are not of limited economic means and therefore confined to network programming…but that’s for another post.