Cable television is a minefield of unspeakable raunch for children, who, like it or not, freely roam the hallways of this medium at night. The Parents Television Council has issued its list of the Top 10 Worst Cable TV Shows for Kids. One hopes that someone out there is shocked.
Leading the list is Comedy Central and its vile celebrity roasts. These mean-spirited and vile knockoffs are nothing like the sidesplitting, kid-because-we-love Dean Martin roasts of the '70s.
August's roast of Joan Rivers was the ugliest yet. Rivers came out on stage holding hands with six little kids of different nationalities and joked that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were having a yard sale. She shoved the kids and snapped: "All right, kids, go make jewelry!" Behind the kids' backs, she flipped a middle finger and said, "I hate children."
That was the tame part. The "comedian" Gilbert Gottfried yelled in his obnoxious high monotone that Robin Quivers, the sidekick to sleazy satellite-radio shock jock Howard Stern, is "proud" of being molested by her father and "won't shut up about it." Quivers is so ugly, thinks our funny man, that "Oh, the shame that poor man must have felt having to hide the fact that his molestation standards were so low!" Yuk, yuk.
MTV and VH-1 each make the list for their reality shows that make a mockery of "love" in their titles. MTV's "Shot at Love" lined up both men and women to compete for the attention of aspiring Internet musician Tila Tequila, who's most recently been in the headlines as a victim of domestic violence. Then MTV multiplied the sleaze with "Double Shot of Love," again lining up men and women to compete for the attention of the "Ikki" twins, Rikki and Vikki Mongeon. If the setup doesn't send you lunging for the remote control, there are also stripping and underwear competitions, foul language and discussions of masturbation, group sex and other "love" topics.
For their "Love" shows, VH-1 has used washed-up '80s musicians: rapper Flavor Flav ("Flavor of Love") and former Poison lead singer Bret Michaels ("Rock of Love"). The two raunchy programs were successful enough that each of them had a spin-off starring a losing contestant ("I Love New York" and "Daisy of Love.") These reality shows often have scenes set in strip clubs, with the show contestants often acting like strippers, complete with blurred nudity and sexual situations. "Love" is never really found, since that would ruin the chances of yet another season of "reality."
But the very worst neighborhood for children seems to be the cable network FX, which secured five out of the top 10 worst spots. (Rupert Murdoch, take a bow, you "conservative" tycoon.) The most notorious FX show on the list is "Nip/Tuck," the dark and sick story of two amoral plastic surgeons, with plotlines including incest, necrophilia and bestiality. "Rescue Me," the firefighter drama with Denis Leary, has writers with a thing for coerced sex: marital rape, drugged-up sex and a father pushing his teenaged daughter to have sex with her boyfriend.
So much for firefighters being heroes.
The other three shows aren't as well known. There's Danny DeVito's oddly named "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," with classy episode titles such as "Who Pooped The Bed?" There's "Sons of Anarchy," based on a criminal motorcycle gang, which has featured a human castration and an ax going into a man's head, as well as references to necrophilia. "Testees," a show about two men who serve as "guinea pigs" for the corporation called "Testico," features bizarre sexual scenarios, fetishes, S&M, and couples shown during intercourse. Rounding out the PTC list as the most obscure entry is "Skins" on the BBC America channel, which featured teens using drugs, cursing, having sex and displaying a variety of sex toys.
Think about these shows the next time your child wants to watch TV alone downstairs.