Brent Bozell

It's a sad state of affairs. There is absolutely no barrier of sexual behavior that TV network executives aren't willing to cross in a desperate gambit for ratings. There also seems be to no sleazy line that a squeaky clean teenage TV star or pop star won't cross to "break out" into grown-up stardom.

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Both of these maxims were proven again by the CW show "Gossip Girl" with a group-sex plot. Its Nov. 9 episode depicted three friends completing a list that was supposedly printed in their college newspaper: "The 15 Things Every College Student Must Do Before Graduating." No. 11 was "Have a Threesome." And so they did.

One of the "liberated" college women in this three's-a-crowd spectacle was actress Hilary Duff, who earned millions as a teenager as the star of "Lizzie McGuire" on the Disney Channel and in Disney movies. Millions of impressionable children idolized her. They still do -- except that she's a different kind of role model now.

Fans of the pornification of TV -- the ones who joked that this plotline was a "public service" -- were disappointed by what CW aired. There was some girl-on-girl kissing, and the threesome in bed at episode's end. But the naughtiness was much more implied than actual. Fear not! The CW immediately announced plans to extend the threesome theme into a second week. Maybe -- to some, hopefully -- the "flashbacks" will be sleazier.

But that might not happen. It could all be part of a continuous pattern for CW and "Gossip Girl," where the promotions are nastier than the actual show. For example, CW's print ads for "Gossip Girl" last year featured a topless girl in a pool making out with a boy, but in the on-air episode, she was wearing a bikini.

Declarations of a ratings bonanza for this plotline are also stretching it. CW ran around touting a ratings victory for the threesome episode. The press release boasted: "The CW basks in the afterglow of its most watched Monday of the season." Really? The total viewership for this episode was 2.37 million. Last year, this show was averaging 2.6 million. You do the math. And to put the numbers in perspective, in the same time slot, ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" was drawing 17 million viewers.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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