Thursday, September 28, 2006

Seriously? ...

I don't watch a lot of TV. I don't think most of it is worth my time. And invariably, the stuff I dig is scuttled by the networks. Not every show, but enough of them to make me wonder what all those skirts and suits in Tinseltown are thinking.

Some shows are phenomenal enough to make the cut year after year ("Lost") while others are axed unmercifully without resolution ("Invasion").

And then there are the shows that are ripped off, either indirectly ("Trading Spaces") or blatantly ("The Office"). Or they're translated from another language ("Ugly Betty").

Salma Hayek is the genius behind translating this telenovella from its Spanish-language berth to the big wide world of ABC. I have a ton of respect for her as both an actress and producer. She's committed to her ideals, and she does the work she wants to do. And "Ugly Betty" has a lot of potential.

But what the hell is it doing on at 7 p.m.?

Those who know me know I'm no prude. My language is often peppered with its share of salty phrases. I watch porn. Hell, I own porn. I believe I've even had sex in my lifetime, and - gasp! - I'm not married.

But I'm also not programming television at 7 p.m. when freshly scrubbed little kiddles might be plopped down in front of the television in their footie pajamas. Now, some might argue that the days of there being anything appropriate on television at 7 p.m. for kids are long, long gone. If it's not from the Disney vault, all bets are off (though let's not get started on the whole "If it's a Disney film, at least one of the parents has to be dead" thing).

I'm pretty sure, though, that there's a happy medium.

During commercial breaks, I was firing off notes to L.A. Dave, who makes his living writing about television, when he's not writing about snakes on a plane.

"7:05 p.m.," I wrote. "We have the word 'man-whore.' "

"7:12 p.m.," I wrote, seven minutes later. "We have 'son of a bitch.' What's going on?"

Dave replied (I'm sure he won't mind if I quote him), "Is it more the fact that 'Ugly Betty' is on in what is still referred to commonly as the 'family hour'? (The same family hour, by the way, where I saw two escaped convicts violently shot to death on CBS' 'Jericho' last night?)"

To which I replied, "Yeah, this is insane. Kids are still watching TV at this hour, and we have women in bed with a 'man-whore,' barely clothed, we have profanity, we have models in a 'car-wreck' photo shoot. What the fuck? I'm no prude, but Jesus."

Dave suggested that shows like "Friends" and "Gilmore girls" were and are their own brand of "racy," but "Ugly Betty" crosses that line. Yes, yes, "Gilmore girls" alludes to premarital sex, "Friends" put Jennifer Aniston in her high-school cheerleader outfit and showed her taking off her bra under her shirt. But I'm sure that no child ever watching either of those shows ever turned to their parent and said, "Mommy, what's a man-whore?"

And get this: Hollywood is full of ... liberals! It's crawling with 'em! And so my little condemnation/rant here might be viewed as ... CONSERVATIVE!

Yep, I'm conservative, all right, when it comes to stuff like this. When I see T-shirts that would fit six-year-olds with "Hottie" in rhinestones across the chest, when I'm flipping through a sales circular for Halloween costumes and I see little girls dressed up as go-go dancers in really skimpy outfits, when I see little girls making their first holy communion wearing strapless dresses, I go a little nuts.

Earlier today, I was reading a story about a newspaper employee, an HR manager, who went to meet a 13-year-old girl he'd been chatting with online and was met instead by the undercover cop he'd been talking to the whole time. Gee, I'm sure that nice man just wanted to take his new friend out to the mall for some shopping and ice cream, right? There are a lot of sick fucks out there. I don't think we need to be making things any easier for them by dressing up grade-schoolers like two-bit whores.

And I don't think we need early-evening television glorifying a "man-whore" who kicks one lingerie-clad woman out of his bed (who pulls on a trenchcoat and then flashes him on her way out the door) to make way for the next lingerie-clad woman of the night.

Yes, I recognize that parents can control what their kids see, but really, can't it wait until 8 o'clock?


Anonymous Ethan said...

Continuing my fine tradition of picking out one throwaway line and choosing to comment on it:

The Office (US) was developed with the blessing of its UK creators. I dare say, as a former UK Office nut, that the US version surpasses the original. I never thought I'd ever say that, but there you go.

We taped (yes taped, too many 7pm conflicts on the Tivo) Ugly Betty so I'll have to get back to you on my opinion. I liked La Fea Mas Bella, but the language barrier made it hard to stick with. But even that is a remake.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

My point about "ripping off" shows is that American television development seems to be so lacking that we've taken to Americanizing other countries' shows and slapping them on the air, blessing or no. I'm sure there are agreements in place in cases like "The Office" cuz otherwise, it'd be a litigation-fest. But then you have the shining NBC example of "Coupling," which had an embarrassingly short life-span. Of course, that was likely due to American prudish television standards that the BBC doesn't share. At least, there were prudish standards then. With "Ugly Betty," I don't know about now.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

In a world when family shows such as "Ghost Whisperer" (with the overt emphasis on Jennifer Love Hewitt's cleavage) and even "7th Heaven" (like "Gg," a somewhat growing emphasis on sex in most of its varieties) tread the line, it's obvious that the family hour is not what it once was. But I'm still bemused by the juxtaposition of Beth's phrases "I'm no prude, but Jesus" and "What the fuck?" :)

Verification word: tzoaqvrm

11:09 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Oh, and Beth, don't feel weird about being conservative in a few areas of your life. Remember our conversation - all liberals have something in their philosophies that tracks the other way, and vice versa. Mine are the existence of parole and the designated hitter.

Verification word: wxrhiir (the sound made by a mosquito that's high on LSD)

11:11 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

The U.S. version of "Coupling" didn't die a quick death because of the different standards and practices between the BBC and NBC. It died because it sucked, hard. Trust me - I actually had to watch it.

I'll shut up now. :)

Verification word: nabcykwy

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

It died because it sucked, hard.

I'll second.

Good to see that the would-be US version of Patrick Maintland found gainful employment on a halfway decent show: "Eureka" on the Sci-Fi Channel. May want to keep an eye out for the eventual DVD set on Netflix.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

But it is on at 8:00pm - in the Eastern time zone, where ABC has its headquarters. It's also on at 8p via tape delay in the Pacific TZ, since starting prime time at 5p would be brainless. However those who languish in the Central TZ get to see it an hour earlier. Here in the Mountain TZ it's even stranger - we're on the Central schedule, but via delay.

I don't understand why network TV still adheres to a concept that was only valid when everything was a live feed from NYC. However, I really like having prime time start at 7 and end at 10. Watching Letterman at 10:35p instead of 11:30 rocks!

10:47 AM  

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