By Christopher Gildemeister
The fall broadcast TV season offers several programs that appear to be safe for families…and several that definitely aren’t.
Every year, the PTC (Parents Television Council) attends the Paley Center for Media’s Fall TV Preview event, during which some of the new TV programs premiering in fall are shown. We then offer our evaluation of the new shows, particularly which programs are safe for families and children, and which parents should be certain their children avoid. Here are PTC’s top three picks for Best and Worst series of fall 2015.
Supergirl on CBS
This delightfully cheerful and upbeat superhero series about the adventures of Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, is perfect for families – especially girls.By day, Kara’s an intern for media mogul Cat Grant; but when danger threatens the people of National City, she defends them as one of the greatest heroes ever: Supergirl!
Though the show contains some fantasy violence, it is substantially less than other such programs, with none of the “dark and gritty” sensibility which has marred other DC comics properties like CW’s Arrow and the Dark Knight movie series, thus making Supergirl ideal for children.
For far too long the entertainment industry has – openly or covertly – objectified women, telling young girls that all that matters is “sexiness” and appearance. Now at last, there is a terrific role model for young girls. Supergirl is strong, smart, brave, and (even in her secret identity) unfailing in her devotion to helping others and doing what’s right. As one character says in the first episode: “A female hero? I’d like my daughter to have someone like that to look up to.” Now, America’s girls – and boys, too – have such just such a character in Supergirl.
Supergirl premieres Monday, October 26th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
The Grinder on Fox
Combining a sharp satire of TV legal dramas with warm family comedy, this program centers on a pompous actor who thinks he can be a lawyer in real life– because he played one on TV.
While most of the laughs on The Grinder come from the program’s satire of courtroom dramas like Boston Legal and Law & Order, there’s also a warmer, deeper message. Small-town lawyer Stu envies his bold, famous, well-spoken brother Dean, who plays the infallible lawyer Grinder on TV. But the envy goes both ways. Though pompous and arrogant, Dean also looks up to Stu, who has a loving wife and children, and has made family the center of his life. By contrast, despite his celebrity, Dean feels life has passed him by, a major reason why he wants to emulate Stu and become a lawyer in their home town. Thus, under the satire of TV, The Grinder is a story of two brothers reconnecting, and learning to support and care about one another.
The Grinder premieres Tuesday, September 29th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on CW
This sweet, funny, romantic musical comedy with a talented cast tells the story of a successful career woman who drops everything to move across the country to pursue a chance for love.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is filled with an upbeat tone, delightfully satrical comedy, tremendously talented musical performances, and a central story about love and romance – elements which could make it a treat for families. But like Fox’s Glee, there may also be some issues to concern parents. The first episode contained a bit of questionable language, and a scene implying (but not showing) that characters had sex on the first date. Judging from the first episode, the program does have the potential to be a positive family show; but whether the program will follow that path, or go down a more explicit one, has yet to be seen.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premieres Monday, October 12 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on the CW.
Scream Queens on Fox
Containing content (graphic gore, sexual dialogue, and a deeply disturbing tone) more appropriate for a premium cable program, this show’s greatest shock is that it is on the public airwaves to begin with.
A tale of murder and perversity in a college sorority, Scream Queens employs hateful stereotypes of sorority girls, college deans, racial and ethnic minorities, deaf students, lesbians, and nearly anyone else one could name. Violence on the first episode alone included a woman having her face dunked in boiling oil, then tearing the flesh from her face; a girl being knifed to death; and a group of sorority pledges buried up to their necks, then run over with a lawn mower.
With Scream Queens, show creator, Ryan Murphy has brought the extreme content and sickening sensibility of his FX dramas Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story to the publicly-owned airwaves during the Family Hour of 8:00 p.m. Eastern – only 7:00 p.m. Central/Mountain. Parents are strongly cautioned to keep their children and teens as far as possible from this graphic and grotesque program.
Scream Queens premieres Tuesday, September 22nd at 8:00 p.m. Eastern (7:00 p.m. Central/Mountain) on Fox.
Life in Pieces on CBS
Larded with wall-to-wall sex and scatological “humor,” this “family comedy” is totally inappropriate for families. The series contains four short, sex-obsessed vignettes every week – each of them horrifically wrong for prime time.
Following members of one family in various states of life (grandparents, a family with children, newlyweds, and still dating), this program uses each as a vehicle for explicitly raunchy sex and toilet jokes, like extended commentary on the state of a new mother’s genitals post-delivery, or a father regaling his college-age son with the story of how he lost his virginity.
Allegedly, this program is about “savoring these little pieces of time that flash by but stay with you forever, because these moments add up to what life’s all about”…but are these really the only moments today’s TV writers think are worth remembering?
Life in Pieces premieres Monday, September 21st at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
Angel from Hell on CBS
Actress Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester on Glee) brings her patented obnoxious bully schtick to her new role…as an angel.
A young woman named Alison runs into Amy, an eccentric older woman who claims she is Alison’s guardian angel. She proves her bona fides by recounting the first time Alison had an orgasm. Nor is Amy’s other advice particularly angelic, consisting of comments like “let some random guy take you to o-town,” and urging Alison to start her Sunday morning by getting drunk. Angel from Hell is a crude, obnoxious, and insulting “comedy” that’s far from heavenly. “From Hell” is right.
Angel from Hell premieres Thursday, November 5th at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
About PTC – The Parents Television Council® (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at https://www.parentstv.org/blog/. Follow the PTC on Twitter: @ThePTC
About Christopher Gildemeister
The PTC’s Senior Writer/Editor since 2007, Christopher Gildemeister is responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to its members and the wider public through a wide variety of vehicles: a monthly newsletter, the PTC Insider; a weekly e-mail newsletter, the Weekly Wrap; the PTC’s blog; and the weekly columns Best TV Show of the Week, Worst TV Show of the Week, Worst Cable TV Show of the Week, and Misrated TV Show. He has also written the TV Trends and Culture Watch columns; Faith in a Box, a study of the portrayal of religion on television 2005-2006; and Habitat for Profanity, a study of the increase of foul language on TV from 2005 to 2010. From 2005 to 2007, he was an entertainment analyst, responsible for documenting sex, violence, and profanity on the former UPN network; ABC; and cable television, including the FX, MTV, ABC Family, Comedy Central and Spike networks. Dr. Gildemeister recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation in American history at The Catholic University of America.