Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Is it Time to Divorce Your TV Set?

posted by Michele Olson

The Parents Television Council has just released a new study;
Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television.

Wow…that’s a mouthful!

The study points out that broadcast networks depict sex in the context of marriage as either non-existent or burdensome while showing positive depictions of extra-marital or pre-marriage sexual relationships.

As a sitcom lover from way back, I am disheartened to see TV turn into a medium for bombarding viewers who just want a good laugh from a well-written show. More and more I've tried to find the redeeming value in a funny or interesting premise, only to have to cringe and turn off the TV. I find myself going more and more to the channel that just plays the old shows from the 60’s and 70’s. To think we once blushed at cutting edge programming like All in the Family and couldn’t bear to see married couples in the same bed on TV like Rob and Laura Petrie and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

We used to rely on talent, not shock or fringe behavior for entertainment.

Networks have decided that a laugh is a laugh...even if it's an “easy, uncomfortable” laugh that so many comediennes have resorted to. They've forsaken the idea of investing in good, solid writing to a more mainstream audience. They've also made it extremely difficult to break into the industry without pitching something shocking and bizarre.

What was once deemed as deviant or criminal behavior has been given the stamp of approval by the TV industry.

Can you imagine being from a remote foreign country, getting your opinions of the U.S. only by what you see on TV, and thinking this is really how most of us act in America?

If just “blocking” certain shows is the answer, The Parents Television Council (PTC) found the reliability of this V chip technology to be inconsistent. That doesn't seem to be the total answer to protect children either. It's just as harmful to see the eroding of what we will tolerate simply because we are not given much choice for certain mediums of entertainment.

Michael Medved, Nationally Syndicated Talk Radio Host and PTC Advisory Board Member points out that we have moved from portraying just destructive sexual behavior to the de-glamorization of marriage. Has the message become…you’d have to be crazy to get or stay married?

What can you do as a Marriage Champion?

Write and email the advertisers in the programs.

Write and email the networks.

I don’t think shaking our heads and turning off the TV is the total answer any more than it makes sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

TV can be a worthwhile form of entertainment and relaxation. We just have to let our voices be heard about what we want to see as a society in programs, and maybe just as importantly, what we won't tolerate.

Let’s keep fighting for healthy portrayal of family and marriage on television.

What’s your opinion?

Have you ever written to an advertiser or network about content in a TV program?

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