So much for Hollywood and the NFL being shocked -- shocked! -- over Janet Jackson's "accidental" breast nudity. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to watching football, now ABC has decided to cash in on the MTV sleazy-surprise formula. To lead into a "Monday Night Football" contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, ABC taped a supposedly satirical pre-game skit featuring Eagles star Terrell Owens and the slutty character "Edie" from ABC's "Desperate Housewives," played by desperate, surgically maintained 41-year-old actress Nicolette Sheridan.
Edie pops into the locker room, fresh from a shower, to tempt Owens by dropping her towel. Owens decides the Eagles will have to win without him while he commits adultery, and the naked woman jumps into his arms. Then we're shown the scene on a television, as two other actresses from "Desperate Housewives" make snarky remarks mocking the raunchiness of their own show.
On how many levels is this skit stupid? On how many levels is it offensive? ABC heard a few million suggestions within 24 hours and issued an apology. What malarkey it was. This spot was conceived by somebody inside ABC's promotion department, written by somebody at ABC, directed by somebody at ABC, edited by somebody at ABC, and yet the network, a full day later and only after being publicly humiliated, issued a formal statement saying they "agree that the placement was inappropriate" -- as if it, too, was victimized.
"Placement" is the first offense here. It would be one thing if Hollywood could carve out some safe shows, some havens for families, and leave them alone, while on the other hand sleazing up the 10 p.m. hour with their growing European-style TV-nudity trend. But to put this gratuitous adultery scene on a very popular sports program watched by millions of children, shown live in the Western states at 6 p.m., is inexcusable.
The second offense is the social message this adult skit sends to satire-impaired youngsters. If the desperate-slut wagon ever pulls into town, then your job and your workmates can irresponsibly be tossed aside for your own personal fulfillment. It's a message boys all too often get from their role models: Become a star, score some big sex, and life is good.
Even with a full dose of ironic distance, the third offense is the blatant commercialism. Hasn't ABC done enough pounding the controversy of "Desperate Housewives" into this year's scuzzy sensation without spoiling the NFL football experience? Can't we save the commercials for the commercial breaks?