Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sex Kills On ABC Family

The One Million Moms are at it again. They really don't like the new season of the Secret Life of the American Teenager. They disliked it so much that they're asking Kellogg to pull their ads from the show. (Apparently Hershey already stopped sponsoring it).

First of all, let's take a moment to laugh out loud at the fact that are still typing the word "sex" as s*x. Hilarious! Anyway... on to the show.

I was sort of on the fence the first time we looked at this show, but I've now decided that it is a complete piece of garbage. I agree with the OMM that the show sucks, but again we really disagree on the WHY.

Honestly, I'm surprised that they don't love the show. Just look at the ridiculous messages it sends about sex. According to ABC Family sex only causes problems.

Amy has sex for the first time... and she gets pregnant. Her mother has sex with her new boyfriend for the first time... and she gets pregnant too! What are the odds!? Now I know that it's important to teach kids that you can get pregnant the first time (because God knows too many teenagers think you can't) but come on! Of course, Amy is pissed at her mom for getting pregnant, because she's a big stupid hypocrite.

Also, apparently sex kills. And I don't mean that sex can transmit HIV or other STDs that can kill you... I mean sex can kill other people too. "Good girl" Grace has sex for the first time and her dad dies in a plane crash. Yes, sex can kill people who aren't even there!

No one on that damn show can have sex without being instantly punished. Amy has sex with Ricky: She gets pregnant! (Not that pregnancy is a punishment per se, but on this show they certainly portray it as such). Amy's mom has sex with her new boyfriend: She gets pregnant! Amy's dad has sex with Adrian's mom: Divorce! Alice and Henry have sex: They break up! Grace has sex with Jack: Her dad dies!

Wow... this is supposed to be a "brutally realistic" portrayal of sex? This show can suck it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Secret Life of the American Teenager

Okay, so while I was making fun of the One Million Moms for their protest against The Cougar, I mentioned their previous campaign against The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Even though their complaints are a little bit old news, it's still considered an active issue on the OMM site and The Secret Life's new season starts on June 22. So since we just love to make fun of them anyway, here's my take on it.

An increasingly popular TV show titled "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" combines anything and everything a mother tries to protect her children from viewing and rolls it into one soap opera for teens.

ABC Family is responsible for showing such racy content, when instead it should be adhering to its name by airing family-friendly content.

Mothers like us need to be aware of this popular sexualized TV show that won a 2008 Teen Choice Award. According to ABC Family, it's their # 1 original series of all time. The LA Times reports that the series is averaging 3.8 million viewers per episode.

"Secret Life" is brutally honest about teens and sex, so much so that it condones teenage sex, adultery and a host of other sins. The series airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. EDT on ABC Family (owned by Disney- ABC Television). This series includes:

* A teenage girl who becomes pregnant after a one night stand
* A "player" who takes advantage of multiple girls because of his sex addiction
* The school "tramp" who basks in her sexual encounters
* A boy who is molested by his father as a child
* Adulterous parents
* A shallow view of Christianity as portrayed through a "ditzy" blonde
* Favorable discussions of gay marriage and gay adoption

This is toxic poison to our children! Ask your children if they are watching this show, and consider making it "off limits" in your home.
The One Million Moms also linked to a review from the American Family Association Journal that further elaborated on all the reasons why the show is so bad for kiddies.

First of all, it's worth noting that the show has a TV-14 advisory. And it's also worth nothing that I realize I'm way too old to watch this show and my daughter is probably still too young to watch parts of it, but yet I still found myself sucked into a marathon a while back. (That usually happens when I can't reach the remote. Laziness!) I'm not particularly a fan of the show, although I find it oddly entertaining in an annoying sort of way (not unlike Seventh Heaven, which was created by the same person, Brenda Hampton). And not unlike Seventh Heaven, every episode of this show is full of "moral lessons".

Honestly, the The Secret Life of the American Teenager is so preachy it's almost an afterschool special. (In fact, a little google search found that someone else used almost that exact same phrase to describe it, so I know I'm not alone!) And yes, while they do touch on issues about teenage sex and pregnancy (duh), the storyline isn't even racy enough to be part of a Lifetime movie. In fact, every episode ends with a public service announcement from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy asking parents and teens to communicate with each other about sex.

The one thing the OMM is right about is that the show is relatively honest about teens and sex, at least in the respect that it acknowledges that some teens do have sex and that sex can come with certain consequences. I don't think that the show actually condones teen sex in any way. If anything, it does the opposite by only showing how much sex complicates people's lives. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's "brutally honest" because I don't think it's really an accurate portrayal of teenagers in general. There is not one single healthy sexual relationship portrayed on that show.

The lead character, Amy, became pregnant after having sex once. Despite all the concern about how the show would glamorize teen sex and teen pregnancy, it does anything but. The only message teens will get from Amy's situation is: "Have Sex=Get Pregnant=Ruin Life". Yeah, sign me up for that fun fest!!

Magically, there are only two other sexually active teen characters on the entire show and both are portrayed as completely screwed up. The aforementioned "player" and "tramp" (lovely) are Ricky and Adrian, respectively. Ricky's character is in foster care and therapy. His father's in jail after molesting and abusing him. His mother is a drug addict who lives on the streets. He's compulsively promiscuous, pursuing anything with a vagina, often resorting to lies and manipulation. Adrian is the"school slut". She has a totally absent father and a mostly-absent mother (she's always away because of her job or because she's fucking some guy, including Amy's married father). She uses sex as a substitute for love. She has an on-again-off-again casual relationship with Ricky but often resorts to manipulation to keep him/make him jealous.

World Premiere of Disney-Pixars Wall-E - Arrivals
The Cast of The Secret Life of the American Teenager
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Content © 2009 Getty Images . All rights reserved.

Every other teenager on the show is magically pure and virginal (unless they're being tempted or manipulated by Ricky and Adrian of course). I mean, even the pregnant teenager only had sex once, mainly because evil Ricky seduced her. And of course, the idea that any of their classmates are having sex is totally scandalous! Now I'm sorry, but this is nothing like the high school experience that I had and that was... um... a while ago. If teenagers today are allegedly having more sex and having sex earlier than in the past, you wouldn't know it by watching this show. According to (which posts discussion prompts for teens and parents after each episode) about one in two teens is sexually active. But on the show, it's just Ricky and Adrian... and whomever they can bring over to the dark side for a few minutes. Not only are Ricky and Adrian to blame for everyone else's sexual mistakes... but they're obsession with sex is also the cause of almost everyone's non-sexual problems too.

The most unrealistic characters on the show (for me) are the purest ones: the church-going promise ring-wearing popular cheerleader and Amy's boyfriend who tries to marry her and raise some other guy's baby with her at age 15. I mean, seriously... what characters are they writing for Season 2... a unicorn? A smurf? How about a visit from Snuffleupagus?

According to The Secret Life, sex is either the result of problems or the cause of problems... with no room in between. That includes the sex between adults as well, who are all hypocrites. Amy's father is cheating on her mother; Adrian's mother uses sex much in the same way that Adrian does (I guess the slutty apple doesn't fall far from the slutty tree). Now I know that when it comes to stuff like sex and teens, you have to walk a very dangerous line. You don't want to encourage teenage sex, but pretending that only people with "issues" have sex isn't the answer. If the only sexual relationships portrayed are dysfunctional ones, then what effect will that have on our children's views about sex when they are adults. When my daughter is older, I don't want her to be careless about sex, but I also don't want her to view sex as something bad or taboo or dirty.

Also, everyone in town is so against abortion that they can barely even say the word. When Amy considers "doing that" or "taking care of it" her friends are so outraged and horrified that they everyone follows her down to the clinic to prevent her from making such a grave mistake. How the clinic has survived without being bombed by now is a mystery. If these were my high school peers, they would have been like "OMG, of course you have to get an abortion! You're in high school!" (For the record, I'm not promoting abortion, nor do I think The Secret Life should... I just think it's a little unrealistic that almost everyone Amy encounters - except slutty Adrian of course - happens to be anti-choice, but it's ABC-Family so I guess I'll let that one slide).

Much like my feelings about the anti-Cougar campaign, I agree that The Secret Life isn't necessarily the best thing on television, but I definitely think the One Million Moms are against it for the wrong reasons. They don't like the show because they think it's promoting or glamorizing teen sex and teen pregnancy. I disagree. I think the show is very realistic about the problems associated with teen pregnancy, but I don't like the way it paints sex in such a negative light. It's not that I necessarily have a problem with unrealistic preachy shows like this, but it definitely irks me when groups like the OMM criticize it for being "brutally realistic" about sex when it's anything but.

Overall, it again comes down to the fact that parents shouldn't let the TV raise their kids. Instead of just banning The Secret Life from your home, use it as an jumping off point to talk to your kids about sex. If you don't talk openly and honestly about sex with your children, then it won't be just the TV's fault if they make bad decisions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rock of Ages

I'm generally a fan of New York Magazine, a big fan. But right now I'm a little mad at them. So mad in fact, that I'm thinking of writing a letter over an issue that has really offended and saddened me... their lack of respect for strippers and 80s hair bands. It really makes me think "WWHD?" (What would Heather do?)
Dear New York Mag,

What the hell do you have against Rock of Ages? I don't understand.

I know it's not Shakespeare, but it doesn't pretend to be. It's just a fun, silly, guilty pleasure. The cast is amazingly talented and the music ROCKS my nostalgic socks off! It was nominated for five Tony-awards, an Astaire award (for the sexy ensemble dancers) and cast-member Wesley Taylor won a Theater World Award. I've yet to meet anyone who saw the show and disliked it... and that's people of all ages.

So I'm sick of reading all these snide little comments. Stop being such theater snobs. Maybe the 80s wasn't a fun time period for you or maybe you had a really bad experience listening to Poison or something, but you need to get over it already.


Seriously, I don't understand why NYmag keeps ragging on Rock of Ages. First they gave them an unfavorable review:
Rock of Ages is in on its own joke, which ruins all the fun.
Heavy metal is so intrinsically theatrical that it makes sense to build a musical comedy around it. But can you parody a form that's already a parody of itself? Rock of Ages is a mangled singing, dancing extravaganza set to the hair metal of Whitesnake, Journey, and Bon Jovi, among others. (Def Leppard, proving their members are gentlemen of taste, wouldn't grant the rights to their music.) An aspiring rock star and an actress hopeful (played by Constantine Maroulis, of American Idol fame, and Amy Spanger) pursue their dreams, and love, in late-eighties Los Angeles. By night, they work in a Sunset Strip rock club that an uptight European developer (Paul Schoeffler) hopes to demolish and replace. There's also an emcee (Mitchell Jarvis), who narrates the action like a Greek chorus made up of one desperate Jack Black imitator.

Rock of Ages, which was written by Chris D'Arienzo and directed by Kristin Hanggi, and which played Off Broadway last year, is too full of self-conscious winks, nudges, and wine-cooler jokes to be much fun. There's energy onstage, all right, but it's unfocused and muddled. The dancers—the show's choreography is by Kelly Devine—wriggle about in epaulette-shouldered leather jackets and neon animal-print Spandex, trying to conjure the big-haired ghosts of a lost era. They only end up looking cheap and desperate. This is no way to get your rocks off.
I really disagree with them. (And so does the New York Times. And Time Out New York. And Spin. And The Village Voice. And NY1. And And even the generally stuffy New Yorker!) But I respect New York mag's right to have their opinion.

You'd think that would be enough for them. But no... Then they went on to put them in the "Despicable" side of the approval matrix:

The Tonys snub Carla Gugino and Mercedes Ruehl, yet nominate Rock of Ages for Best Musical.

And then again, they dissed them in a review for another show:
At Rock of Ages, a show that imprisons you for two hours between a woofer and a tweeter, the cacophony for the first time seemed intentional: a way of obscuring the cheesy story and driving the sale of drinks. The producers would do well to sell earplugs too—but earplugs are no longer enough.
Enough already! We get it! You don't like the show! You don't like 80s music, you don't like incredibly hot ladies in spandex, you don't like wine coolers jokes (seriously, there's like one wine coolers joke, get over it already). You don't have to like it, but you gave the review... now just shut the hell up already. Because so far everyone else I've heard from LOVED it. Not just liked it, but loved it. The cast is amazing (I've never been a fan of American Idol, but Constantine is good).

The cast of Rock of Ages
(Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The dancing is amazing, the music is amazing... plus, they totally rocked out at the Tony awards with Bret Michaels and Poison.. which you gotta give them credit for. (PS: For those of you who caught the show, don't worry, Bret's okay).

63rd Annual Tony Awards  - Show
Rock of Ages cast at the 2009 Tony Awards
(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
© 2009 Getty Images . All rights reserved

And okay, full disclosure compels me to admit that I do know a member of the cast... but it really is a great show. Trust me. And trust almost every theater reviewer in New York (except for New York Magazine's Stephanie Zacharek, boo!) And as if that all wasn't enough reason to love them, check out their hilarious backstage web series.

Still not convinced?

Yeah, that's right. New York Magazine can suck it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The ESC Needs more GBFs

Infomania, the CurrentTV show that features the awesome Target Women segments with Sarah Haskins, just launched a new segment called "That's Gay" with Bryan Safi. Here's the first installment, on the prevalence of the Gay Best Friend stereotype on TV:

So is That's Gay the new Target:Women?, but only because nobody can ever replace Sarah Haskins in our hearts. But we love this idea, because like Target Women, there's just so much material out there in the media that Bryan can work with. We'll definitely be back for more That's Gay.

What does everyone think? Love it or hate it? What topics do you think That's Gay should tackle next?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Oh no! Not the s*x!

So the One Million Moms are at it again. This time they are taking on the TV Land reality show The Cougar. For those of you who don't know (which is probably all of you since I haven't been able to find one person yet who has actually watched this show) the Cougar is a Bachelor/Bachelorette-type dating show in which an 40-year-old woman must choose among men in their 20s.

Apparently they find this show really really offensive and keep contacting its sponsors one-by-one until they pull their ads. Now there are plenty of reasons not to like this show. PLENTY. But the One Million Moms are against it for all the wrong reasons, in my opinion. And frankly, their complaints are just so damn hilarious that's it kind of hard to take them seriously at all.

This past episode was the worst yet, as far as morals go. They called it the "sin city episode" because Stacey, the 40 year old single mother of four, took the remaining three men whose ages range from 21-25 to Vegas for a date. Stacey said, "If the dates go well we have the option of spending the night together." There was a lot of alcohol and gambling in this episode.

Jimmy was Stacey's first date. She invited him to her room at the end of the night. It wasn't clear if they had s*x, but they showed him picking her up and laying her on a pool table and Stacey said, "At my age it feels pretty d**n good to have someone who is 23 throw me down on pool table."

The next date was with Travis, she took him to a spa. They had massages wearing only small towels. Then they showered together, with no towels. At the end of this date Stacey actually asked him to go to bed with her. He replied by doing a flip into the bed.

The last date was with Cole. Stacey used the Lord's name in vain twice during this date. At the end they took a bubble bath together, and then it was very clear they were having s*x.

Stacey sent Travis home and then stated that she was falling in love with more than one man.

If you agree that this content is inappropriate for television, especially during primetime and on the so-called family-oriented TV Land, please send your letter to Kmart and ask them to stop sponsoring "The Cougar" through advertising now.
Are you laughing as hard as I am right now? Since when is sex a bad word that needs to be censored? Or at least, I assume they mean sex... that little asterisk totally makes it hard to understand. What could they possibly be saying? Maybe she really hates saxophone music. Or maybe she's a Yankee fan and hates the Red Sox. Or maybe she just has something against vowels. I don't know. But seriously, what grown women writes to other grown women and types the word "s*x"? It's almost the equivalent of whispering or spelling the word, when there are no children around. Look... sex is a real word! It's in the dictionary. It has multiple meanings. Just because you are offended by the idea of people having it and heaven forbid enjoying it, doesn't mean that it's a naughty word and needs to be censored. Although... she might be on to something here. I think I'm going to start typing all the things that offend me like that: R*sh L*mb**gh... B*ll *'R**lly... Gl*nn B*ck. You know, it does make me feel better. (Athough nothing is as satisfying as just telling them to suck it).

Ridiculous typing aside, there's something much deeper about the OMM's complaints about this show that bugs me... a lot.

Now, to be fair, I'm not particularly a fan of this type of show to begin with. I think most versions of the "dating competition" show - like the Bachelor - are pretty creepy and demeaning. Except for Rock of Love of course, that's totally quality programming. (I also admit I used to watch Transamerican Love Story with my evil-slut-in-training, but I'm sure the OMM wouldn't approve of that show for a whole different set of reasons.) There are plenty of legitimate issues that would give cause to not liking and/or approving of a show like this. But I think this particular show is getting so much flack from the OMM because of one significant difference: it shows an older woman dating younger men.

Now, I'm sure the OMM would still object to the show if the ages were equal or the genders reversed, but I doubt they'd be pushing this hard against it. In fact, it seems that people are very accepting of older men with younger women. If you go back and re-read the above complain and some of the earlier write-ups on their website, you'll notice that the age thing keeps coming up. Although they do complain about the sex and the language quite bit... I think the behavior on the show is all considered even more appropriate because she's a "40 year old single mother of four". This is not the way a grown woman with children should behave. Since she's already got kids, she shouldn't be concerned with finding love or having sex, because her reproductive days are almost up anyway. And how dare she date younger men!? Maybe the One Million Moms are just jealous because this 40 year old single mother of four is living the life they secretly wish they could?

I don't really understand why this is an issue for the One Million Moms anyway. Their mission statement:
Our goal is to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.) is the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children.
What does the Cougar have to do with the exploitation of children? Are the producers of the Cougar really throwing anything at your children? The show airs at 10pm on Wednesdays and has a rating of TV-PG (Parental Guidance Suggested). I might have thought it should have a TV-14 rating (Parents Strongly Cautioned) but that's primarily based on the write-up the OMM gave. I bet it's a hell of a lot less racy in real life. In fact, the episode I saw was pretty tame... to the point that I was bored. Either way, it's on at 10 pm! On a school night! In no way is it marketed to children nor would it even be remotely entertaining to children (hell, I could barely sit through a full episode). Here's an idea... if they're really so concerned about exposing their kids to something like this, be a parent and don't let them watch it! Why should TVLand be responsible for raising their fucking kids?

(Side note: Isn't it funny that they felt the need to explain what "entertainment media" is?)

I also have to wonder why they don't seem to be nearly as concerned with violence on TV. (Again, it's the good old sex-violence disconnect). Looking back at their past campaigns, a glaring pattern starts to emerge... it's almost all about the s*x. Not just older women having sex... but also teenagers having sex (they have an active campaign right now trying to get Hershey to stop sponsoring The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I could fill an entire other blog with my opinions on that campaign... who knows, maybe I will). Oh and of course, they hate anything gay too. It doesn't have to be about gay sex, just gayness in general... I guess because sex is all that gay people care about anyway, right?

The only one I can actually agree with, somewhat, is their protest of the "baby got back" Burger King commercial, although again we have totally different reasons for objecting to that ad. I really can't wait to see what kind of horrible offense the One Million Moms will uncover next. My bet is that it's about sex. Oh sorry, I mean s*x!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Desperately Seeking Shows

Okay, it's that time of the year again. Yes, the time when we need to find new TV shows to watch. We're still trying to recapture those magical days when we would do our instant message commentary on The Pickup Artist every week and have long discussions about who should be on what reality show and even invent shows of our own and still find the time to watch a real show occasionally.

Now that we're older and wiser, we've been leaning towards higher quality programming. You know, like 90210 and Gossip Girl. But those shows are over for the summer, so we need something, and a friend of ours has been trying to sell us on Friday Night Lights, which apparently is similar to 90210 and Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill and shows like that, except that it's actually good and gets its own Direct TV rescue deals and Emmy campaigns and junk like that. So naturally we're skeptical. But we're thinking about it.

While we're on the subject (but not really), apparently there's a new DirecTV disease starting to take hold out there. DirecTV recently announced that they're going to be running episodes of the HBO shows Oz and Deadwood on their 101 Network, prompting one blogger to comment:

DirecTV, the leading satellite service, made headlines a year ago when it bought an exclusive window for airing "Friday Night Lights" four months before the episodes aired on NBC. That deal saved the show, and this year, the agreement was extended for two more seasons, ensuring that "FNL" will be able to write its storybook ending.

If only DirecTV's 101 channel were around a few years ago when "Deadwood" was at a similar crossroads! Well, it's too late for David Milch's Western classic, but the episodes that did get made are airing on 101 starting this Sunday, along with another beloved HBO series, "Oz." [Emphasis ours.]
Basically DirectTV has created a monster, and now every time a cult favorite, critically-acclaimed-but-a-ratings-disaster type of show finds itself on the verge of cancellation, dozens of fans are going to develop a case of DirecTV False Hope Syndrome and start believing that their show is for sure going to be the next Friday Night Lights. Support groups may eventually be necessary. In fact, I had better not tell my parents about this, because they were big fans of the CW show Reaper and they're bummed that it was cancelled. And so am I, because the fact that my parents watched a show on the CW meant that I officially didn't have to feel old when I watched it.

So we're willing to take this Friday Night Lights idea into consideration, but we're definitely still open to suggestions. Leave a comment and tell us what to watch! But once RuPaul's Drag Race comes back, all bets are off.