The fine-spurring April 7 episode tried to be unforgettable. Fox took the final two couples to Las Vegas for wild bachelor and bachelorette parties. The two "brides-to-be" enjoyed a male stripper who simulated oral sex by licking whipped cream from between their legs. They then licked whipped cream off his nipples. Since that was apparently not ribald enough, the women then entertained a (pixilated) topless female stripper, which one "bride" bounced on suggestively. The other licked whipped cream off her unclothed chest.
The alleged grooms were also shacked up with strippers by Fox. A duo of stripping, topless sisters arrived, and soon one "groom" was on all fours being whipped with a leather belt by one of the strippers. Luckily for Western civilization, neither of these phone-polled relationships ended up in marriage.
If the folks at Fox truly believe "the content was not indecent," they are inviting the public to conclude they have no business to be (ab)using the public airwaves. This kind of nudity footage hadn't been seen on broadcast TV since Howard Stern's late-night syndicated TV show was cancelled, but it was made easily available to children at 9 p.m. Eastern time, 8 p.m. Central time at Fox affiliates across fly-over country. The lead-in for "Married by America" was the teen-targeted high school drama "Boston Public."
Fox affiliates really should have known nudity was coming in that penultimate episode if they watched the episode that aired three Mondays earlier. It featured three instances of blurred nudity, a woman's naked breasts and bare bottom, and a young man dropping shorts before getting in the shower, to which his poll-selected girlfriend oozed, "his ass looked good." Another couple discovered they shared a favorite film genre -- you'd never guess, pornography -- and were then heard having sex in the bathroom.
The FCC is finally beginning to listen to parents and exercise its legal responsibility to uphold community standards and punish indecent broadcasts. Assessing fines at license renewal time does more than clear the regulators' docket. It also might concentrate some station managers' minds on the need to confront Hollywood's anything-goes pitchmen, given audiences are showing they're fed up with the abuse.