Commentary

Indecent TV Shows: Those With Weak Creative

Indecency fines are more costly now--will advertisers be financially happier?

The fallout over a new indecency law that increases fines tenfold means everyone will be on pins and needles--station executives, performers and producers. No doubt creativity will be curbed.

Advertisers seemingly will breathe easier now that TV stations will be on the lookout for a flashing boob, scenes of a strip club, foul language, or other less-than-respectable bedfellows. But will the result help sell toothpaste? There’ll be more vanilla programming than already exists on TV.

Some things don’t make sense as is--indecent or not. In the real world, would anyone really expect the characters in “My Name is Earl,” or “Without a Trace” or “Grey’s Anatomy” never using tougher, perhaps x-rated language?

Well, now take that down a notch and lower your TV expectations. Are kissing scenes indecent? Are people fooling around on their spouses indecent? Are really short skirts indecent? How about characters getting killed? What about bikinis on ABC Family?

Some might say all this could produce more inventive writing. For instance, club comedians take pride in their clean, non-“blue” material when appearing on TV late-night shows. Getting people to laugh without swearing is an honor. But that’s not the only choice they have in their professional lives. In a perfect world, comedians and writers should be allowed all ends of the writing spectrum.

Finding interesting and differentiated programming among the procedural crime dramas of the world has already been tough going. The search will become harder.

Advertisers may be seeking more family-friendly programming. But what has been the real result? Now we have tougher fines and fewer people-friendly shows.

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