Some gross episodes trashed by Entertainment Weekly were just exploiting the weak stomachs of viewers. David Letterman suffered a gash on his hand that required 40 stitches, but when the stitches started to rip halfway through his program, a surgeon was called in to fix the flesh-ripping mess, and CBS showed the carnage in "extreme close-up," then carried a reenactment of the hand accident with nearby deli owner Rupert Lee squirting fake blood all over his deli.
At least Letterman's show is on late. On UPN's prime-time reality show "America's Next Top Model," one contestant urinated in a diaper to score extra camera time with the naughty-boy cast of MTV's "Wildboyz," who were visiting their Viacom colleagues.
Some shows made the list because of the timing. "CSI" is a gross-out show most weeks, but on Thanksgiving night, they just had to air a plot where a man gorged himself to death, a scene watched by millions of Americans who had just over-eaten. Watching the technicians sort the unsavory contents of the dead man's digestive tract, making jokes about the "buffet" and commenting on the putrid smell of the partially digested hot dogs was too much for the turkey-burping critics.
In a disgusting category all its own, there was the relentlessly putrid FX series "Nip/Tuck." Entertainment Weekly listed several oddball scenes during the season, including "The semen cream that Joan Rivers smeared on her mug. The two faces glued to a man's buttocks. (Seriously.)" Earning special dishonors was the season finale, which they noted included shots of "a severed finger, [a] maimed face, bloody breast implants in a box, and a pre-op transsexual's penis being mutilated with a box cutter." That can't begin to describe the twisted plot twists, complete with rapes, tortures, dismemberment, and murder.
But that doesn't mean the sponsor felt guilty about the show. Several times during the season finale of this, the most irresponsibly offensive show on television, FX announced: "The FX season finale of 'Nip/Tuck' is brought to you by Smirnoff vodka. Clearly Smirnoff. Please drink responsibly."
As we begin 2006, it's a slam-dunk to predict that television will only get more gross and more outrageous. It will get even harder for Hollywood to tell Congress that families shouldn't have a chance at choosing their own less disgusting cable options. That episode of "The Comeback" is a nice metaphor for Hollywood. They're vomiting out gross television, and we're strongly inclined to vomit in return.