Sex: All Too Ready for Prime Time
by L. Brent Bozell III
Late in November, the show-business trade paper the
Hollywood Reporter published its 68th anniversary issue. The cover headline, a
tip of the hat to Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman, read, "What, Me Sexy?
Hollywood gets raunchy and sets a nation giggling." Some may be giggling,
but judging by plummeting ratings numbers, most are appalled by the pervasive
raciness of today's entertainment-television fare.
It's no longer just the "religious right" or other
social conservatives who are speaking out. Many TV critics have publicly
denounced the trend, as have a handful of those working in the industry. Steve
Allen, who embodies as well as anyone the principle that one can elicit
laughter by aiming for the brain and not the crotch, told the Reporter that
"there's always been dirty humor...but we don't even get double entendre
now - we get single entendre right between the eyes...I think we need a
national discussion and a national examination of conscience in regard to the
fact that children are being exposed to all this."
The networks vary in terms of how much sex they present, and
when they present it. ABC and CBS are generally clean between 8 and 9 p.m.,
the first hour of prime time in the Eastern and Pacific time zones. NBC and
Fox, however, don't hesitate to program plenty of filth in that time period,
once considered a safe harbor for families.
In the 8 o'clock hour at NBC, veteran smutcoms like
"Suddenly Susan" and "Friends" have been joined this
season by new smutcoms like "Conrad Bloom" and "Jesse." In
one typical episode of "Conrad Bloom," the title character is
enjoying sex with his new girlfriend, Julie, until he discovers the large
snake tattoo on her belly. Conrad is so phobic about snakes that he thinks
he'll have to break up with Julie. His ex-girlfriend, Molly, advises him to
"just turn her over."
It's that witty.
Try this laugh line in another exchange: "When I'm with
another woman in bed," Conrad says to Molly, "I think of you so I'll
"Jesse" (8:30 Thursdays) centers on a single mom
in her mid-twenties and is even more sordidly sexual than "Conrad
Bloom." Early in their relationship, Jesse asks her boyfriend, Diego,
whom he'd rather watch in a porn movie: her or his mother. In real life, a man
asked something that disgusting would break up with the woman on the spot. Not
in Sitcomland: Jesse and Diego dated for a while longer, and their eventual
split had nothing to do with her creepy question.
A bit later, after Jesse mentions to her girlfriends that
she saw Diego with another woman, one friend suggests that Jesse "have
sex with him...Preemptive sex, unless [the other woman] is having sex with
him. Then it's retaliatory sex." The other friend adds, "Why don't
you sleep with the other girl in front of him? Guys love that."
Meanwhile, this season at 8 Fox has offered several
forgettable, failed, stupid sex-obsessed sitcoms and the ever-carnal
"Melrose Place." "Melrose" is, incredibly, is still on the
air, no doubt because of its riveting dialogue:
Michael: "I'm really terrible at this courtship
thing...but I am really, really good in bed."
Jane: "Oh, yeah? Prove it."
Characters take off clothes, fornicate.
In the race for raciest series between 9 and 10, among the
leaders in a very crowded field is ABC's "Spin City." Earlier this
season, the main character, New York deputy mayor Mike Flaherty, had a brief
affair with Heidi, a German model. Beholding Heidi's breasts, he quips,
"See, now, that is German precision, right there." Soon, she's on
the bed, and Mike leaps to join her; a bra, a pair of boxer shorts, and a
package of condoms are shown floating through the air in slow motion. The next
morning, Heidi declares, "Last night was the sexual high point of my
life. It was [as if I] was being made love to not by one man, but by a pack of
How awful has it become? The Hollywood Reporter piece
included this comment from Ron Jeremy, who has appeared in more than 1,500
"adult films." "Hollywood," he said, "uses sex in
just about everything it makes, and the envelope is constantly pushed
in...sitcoms...You'd see raunchier jokes in a 'Married...With Children' than
in most porno movies."
There you have it. Entertainment TV isn't even good porn.
Voice Your Opinion!
Write to Brent Bozell
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe