How to Get Away With Sleazy Sex Scenes

Posted: Nov 14, 2014 12:01 AM

Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Tim Graham.

While Obama's Federal Communications Commission obsesses over liberal concerns like the under-regulation of the Internet and whether "Redskins" is a profanity, broadcast television is sleazier than ever.

As The Hollywood Reporter recently noted, "Nearly two months into the fall, it's clear that explicit jokes and boundary-pushing storylines are changing the definition of what sexual content is acceptable in primetime."

For example, the Sept. 16 season premiere of the Fox sitcom "New Girl" featured star Zooey Deschanel repeatedly muttering "sex fist" as a motto for five friends all succeeding at casual sex after the last wedding of the summer. "Multiple fisting jokes followed," they reported.

"We got away with murder," executive producer Brett Baer told the Reporter after the premiere. "We've given broadcast standards a run for their money." The real question is whether there are any barriers to sleaze, or merely a ban on saying "Redskins."

Over on Fox's "The Mindy Project," nearly an entire episode focused on star Mindy Kaling and her boyfriend debating whether he "slipped" into anal sex. That led to discussions of sexual positions, including the "necktie," the "ascot" and the "bagpipe."

They also mocked the Catholic Church. The boyfriend said he had no intention of going "back door." When he added, "Even if I think about that ... " she shot back, "They promote you to cardinal?"

That's not to say this smutcom approach works for Fox. Both half-hour shows often come in fourth place, far behind the brand new hour-long CBS drama "NCIS: New Orleans."

But producer Shonda Rhimes is dominating ABC on Thursday nights with a trio of hour-long shows. "Scandal" and the new show "How to Get Away With Murder" are currently the top two network dramas among viewers 18 to 49 (and "Grey's Anatomy" is not far behind).

The Hollywood Reporter noted that "Scandal" opened the season with star Kerry Washington and her boyfriend "in an explicit entanglement on the beach." On Oct. 16, Rhimes brought the sex position "Eiffel Towering" -- a threesome move -- to primetime when the daughter of the President of the United States was "caught on tape performing a lewd sex act that many had to Google."

"I have no intention of changing what's happening on Scandal at 9," Rhimes announced in July. "That will be interesting. I look forward to being censored." Except she hasn't been.

On Oct. 30, ABC rankled the Parents Television Council and many others by airing a "Scandal" sex scene just seconds after the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" Halloween special ended. In the good old days, there were two minutes of commercials between programs. Now they just blur into each other.

At 10 p.m., the Rhymes show "How to Get Away With Murder" has aired almost-weekly gay sex scenes, including one where a character announced after a casual office sex encounter, "He did things to my ass that made my eyes water."

Openly gay executive producer Peter Nowalk told the E! network, "I knew I wanted to push the envelope, especially with the gay sex." It's designed "to right the wrong of all of the straight sex that you see on TV. Because I didn't see that growing up, and I feel like the more people get used to two men kissing, the less weird it will be for people."

The FCC is intentionally irrelevant, and so broadcast TV never stops pushing, pushing, pushing the envelope further into every sexual position and fetish and orientation. They're not trying to protect the children watching Charlie Brown. Tinseltown's libertines want to "educate" the children that every twisted turn of sexuality should be embraced and welcomed.