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Author Topic: Controversial TV series  (Read 5930 times)
vukxfiles
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« on: January 31, 2011, 03:46:18 AM »

Lets make a list or talk about controversial shows and episodes. Personally, I like shows that have the balls to show what they want without being afraid of the FCC taking them down. I hate censorship and cannot enjoy shows that I see are censored because it limits the overall show and I cannot expect a lot of things from it.

Apart from the premium cable channels, like HBO and Showtime, which are allowed to show obcscene and controvesial content, there are loads of network shows that have the balls to also show what they want. Exaples include South Park, Family Guy, CSI, The X-Files (for its time).

Two X-Files episodes have recieved a TV-MA rating. The first was The Calusari from season 2, which features a baby being killed. The second was Home from season 4, featuring a redneck family that practices incest, and in the beginning of the episode they bury a newly born baby alive becuase it is too mutated to be able to live. Actually, Home is often cut out of re-runs of the show, so the easier way to see it is on DVD.

Also we should talk about whether you think it is good or bad that these shows exist, and if it is right/wrong that the government controls what we see.
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 06:53:12 AM »

A British TV series and the forerunner of The X Files, the terrifying paranormal series The Omega Factor was a huge hit in Britain but was never seen again for years until it surfaced on DVD in 2006. It showed things like demon possession, telekinesis, death by thought process and other things that had never been explored on TV before. It still gives me the shudders, even now.  Buggedout Buggedout Buggedout Buggedout
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AndyC
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2011, 08:08:22 AM »

All in the Family springs to mind. Besides Archie's colourful bigotry, it was the first show I can recall where characters actually used the toilet. There were episodes about sexual assault, menopause, child abuse, sexual matters and a whole bunch of legitimate topics people discussed in real life, but other shows had not previously touched, much less tried to present in a sitcom format. I'd like to check out the British show it was based on, which I've heard surprisingly little about.
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2011, 10:34:09 AM »

I know Married With Children was controversial in it's day. Even today MWC is pretty racy with all the talk about sex and other daring no no's for tv. Some mother thought MWC was a decent show so she put her child in front of the tv set, blamed FOX and tried her hardest to get the show off the air. This is known as Rakolta Boycott. To this day no show has had more cameos of playmates/penthouse pet/adult star than Married With Children  Wink
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 10:36:22 AM by Nightowl » Logged

Raffine
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2011, 11:02:27 AM »

We were absolutely forbidden to watch Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - so naturally we caught almost every episode on the tiny B&W tv in my sister's room, with the volume turned almost all the way down.  Thumbup

Maude got particular attention for it's 'Maude Gets an Abortion' episode.

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The second was Home from season 4, featuring a redneck family that practices incest, and in the beginning of the episode they bury a newly born baby alive becuase it is too mutated to be able to live.


I saw this episode when it first aired. Definitely one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen on the tv!

Slight Spoiler: The mother who lived under the bed SERIOUSLY creeped me out. Geesh!
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2011, 11:26:37 AM »


and if it is right/wrong that the government controls what we see.


The government does NOT control what you/we see...only what is shown on broadcast tv with the most basic equipment.

You can watch hard core xxx porn all you want, or graphic violence or aryan nation programming if that floats your boat, or just about anything else.  There are cable shows and DVD rentals, the Internet and heck, make your own trash if you want to.  The government has actually very little to say about most of what is available.

What is wrong in your mind with a community (or nation) of people agreeing to a baseline standard regarding what t is available to everybody?  It's not "censorship."  It's decency...respect of others.  I think the buzz word in use today is "tolerance."  Why should I be asked to accept offensive programming on TV that I don't want my children to see (or really don't want to see myself) in the name of tolerance, but my viewpoint is for some reason consider intolerant? 

We've had this and similar discussions on this web site many times in the past 8 or so years...and my position remains the same.  If a community decides it does NOT wish certain subjects of media to be publicly and freely available...that is the standard that is used for that community. 

The bottom line is that in this country (and I am only speaking for this county, the US), the community at large has decided, and continues to believe, that the baseline standard for broadcast television is different from other forms of media that can more easily be controlled or blocked or ignored in any given home.  The stuff that is out there for EVERYONE meets something of a test that a great majority would approve.

Censorship is the government telling me that I can have NONE of it in MY home for ANY reason, and that they are willing to come into my home to check me out for the purpose.  This is, in general, not happening.  With the exception of child pornography (and maybe a few other really specific niches), you can own the raunchiest trash you want...and so long as YOU control who watches it (ie, not broadcasting it out of your home), NO ONE CARES.

Is our system perfect as it's put into practice?  No; of course not.  But to claim that having a baseline standard that meets the approval of a huge majority is censorship is incorrect.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2011, 11:45:00 AM »

Maude got particular attention for it's 'Maude Gets an Abortion' episode.

A little while ago, I caught an episode of Maude for the first time probably since it first aired, and I was surprised. We never watched it much, and a lot of it went over my head at that age, so I don't remember much about Maude. In this episode, Maude and her husband were popping pills, Conrad Bain was drinking like a fish, and Maude at one point buys weed off a teenager for a protest against severe penalties for marijuana possession. An episode in defense of pot smokers, making its point by having virtually every character on drugs of one sort or another. And the humour was pretty racy in general. Nowadays, that's nothing, but I'm amazed that it was broadcast or even made back in the day.
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Jim H
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2011, 12:57:58 PM »

Quote
If a community decides it does NOT wish certain subjects of media to be publicly and freely available...that is the standard that is used for that community. 


That's possibly the biggest issue, is that there is no real single community for television.  It's massive broadcast over many, many communities, all with differing standards.  So it's tough to decide what "community standards" are when there's not a single community.  In general, I believe the FCC system actually works out OK on the whole, though I find the recently increased fines to be ridiculously disproportionate to any harm caused, particularly when it's an accident.  That has had a stymying effect on live broadcasts, actually, to the point where far less is really live anymore.

It also annoys me that so few stations do anything extra with the time outside of the "safe" hours.  They really don't show anything extra, even though they could.  And the acceptance of these standards has made the basic cable channels afraid to go much further (with swearing and sexuality, cable hardly cuts violence out of anything anymore, as god forbid kids hear a swear), for fear of alienating ignorant consumers.

As far as controversial TV, anyone remember when Ellen came out on Ellen?  That was a pretty big deal at the time, and I remember them losing advertisers because of it.  I watched the episode and remember thinking "Why is this such a big deal?".  But, I've never truly understood the huge thing with homosexuality in America, much less so as a 13 year old in 1997.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puppy_Episode
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vukxfiles
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 02:06:30 PM »

As you are right about TV needing to be toned down because it is public, ther have been incidents when the government tried to control what people watch. Does anyone remember the video nasties thing that happened in the UK in the 80s? Basically the govt made a list of movies deemed too obscene and anyone who had a copy of any of those movies would recieve a fine or go to jail, and it was all to protect children (even though it was about video casettes and not tv programming). Now someone try to tell me that it was a good thing Hatred

Also, for example, I like the Twilight Zone, but I would like it more if it tackled some controversial themes, but this couldn't be because it was "public television". They tried to do something like that with the 2002 remake, but everyone would agree this version didn't go so well.

Anyway, just so you know the real reason I made this thread, I want some suggestions on what to watch, because there isn't anyone in the world that likes controversial stuff more than me. TongueOut
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The Burgomaster
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2011, 04:54:45 PM »

*  Back in the late 1970s or early 80s, a TV series called PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H aired briefly on a local independent Boston TV station.  It was about a women's prison and was supposed to be "steamy."  I don't remember much about it other than it was not an American show and I didn't think it was as shocking as it was supposed to be.

*  Also in the late 70s there was a show called ALL THAT GLITTERS.  It was something about women who were high-powered corporate executives.  I think it had some sexuality to it, sort of a 70s version of SEX IN THE CITY oe something.
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2011, 05:33:02 PM »

*  Back in the late 1970s or early 80s, a TV series called PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H aired briefly on a local independent Boston TV station.  It was about a women's prison and was supposed to be "steamy."  I don't remember much about it other than it was not an American show and I didn't think it was as shocking as it was supposed to be.


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Very popular in the UK for bad sets and acting !!  TeddyR
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2011, 05:49:40 PM »


That's possibly the biggest issue, is that there is no real single community for television.  It's massive broadcast over many, many communities, all with differing standards.  So it's tough to decide what "community standards" are when there's not a single community.  


I agree that that's the problem.  This is why I use the term 'baseline standard,' because I happen to believe that the programming should fit within the bounds of a baseline 'sensibility' or be as unoffensive as possible.

I guess I'm a bit sensitive to this on this particular site because every time this comes up, it seems like one of the points being made is "well, it {language/violence/sex} doesn't bother ME, so why don't they show it?"  This is what it seemed to me like the Original Poster was saying...something like "controversial or offensive TV programming should be readily available because *I* like it."

The list he asks for of 'controversial' tv programs will be a short one...in general, they don't last long because that's not what large enough audiences want.  My point is that is how it should be...we 'vote' with our dollars, and if someone wants more 'edgy' stuff or whatever, it's out there...just not on BROADCAST television.

Quote

though I find the recently increased fines to be ridiculously disproportionate to any harm caused, particularly when it's an accident.  


No argument there.

Quote

It also annoys me that so few stations do anything extra with the time outside of the "safe" hours.  They really don't show anything extra, even though they could.  And the acceptance of these standards has made the basic cable channels afraid to go much further (with swearing and sexuality, cable hardly cuts violence out of anything anymore, as god forbid kids hear a swear), for fear of alienating ignorant consumers.


Well, again, that's their prerogative, and it must fit within whatever market research they have done.  What they "CAN" do outside the safe hours is very different from what they DECIDE to do.

I know some of the stuff SHOWTIME 2 shows these days is pretty out there...truly R rated, maybe NC-17 in some cases, so I'm thinking the cable companies are not totally afraid to push the envelope.

I'm just wondering if the reason there is not more 'controversial' stuff on TV (broadcast or cable) and that most of the cable stations are fairly mild by most metrics is because they just don't have the audience for "that stuff."  Advertisers are not going to buy time for shows that appeal to very small market niches.  G or mild PG shows like "Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition" (9.5 million viewers in a recent ep) get audiences; "Californication" less so (615,000 viewers for the Season 2 finale).  That's 1500% more viewers for the G rated show than the heavy R one.

Which one(s) do you think make money, tame or edgy?

Quote

As far as controversial TV, anyone remember when Ellen came out on Ellen?  That was a pretty big deal at the time, and I remember them losing advertisers because of it.  I watched the episode and remember thinking "Why is this such a big deal?".  But, I've never truly understood the huge thing with homosexuality in America, much less so as a 13 year old in 1997.


HA!

I remember that flap.  I too, in my 30's, thought "what's the big deal?"  Actually, I think it was more of a publicity stunt to generate interest in the show.  She was not the first homosexual character (or actor) on TV, for crying out loud.

Before that hubbub, "Ellen" was a mildly amusing, quirky sitcom that stood out in no major way.  From a marketing perspective, they were successful for a short period of time.  What's really stupid, or was to me at the time, is that they totally rewrote the series to revolve around her homosexuality and it became pointless and contrived.  And it tanked pretty quick in the ratings, as I recall.

Quote from: vukxfiles

As you are right about TV needing to be toned down because it is public, ther have been incidents when the government tried to control what people watch. Does anyone remember the video nasties thing that happened in the UK in the 80s? Basically the govt made a list of movies deemed too obscene and anyone who had a copy of any of those movies would recieve a fine or go to jail, and it was all to protect children (even though it was about video casettes and not tv programming). Now someone try to tell me that it was a good thing


First, that's not television...so, I don't see how it applies to this thread/discussion.

Second:  Is it still going on?  If not, it was self correcting, so it's over and there is not much point in complaining about the past.  As a very wise pig once stated, "you gotta put your past in your beind."  (Pumba, in THE LION KING).

Quote

Also, for example, I like the Twilight Zone, but I would like it more if it tackled some controversial themes, but this couldn't be because it was "public television".


I think the original DID tackle some tough themes, perhaps not every single episode.  I'm not sure what you are saying you'd like to have seen there.  But, what was "controversial" or difficult to discuss publicly was very different in the 1960's than it is now.  I think we have to look at a series through the lens of the time it was made.

Quote

Anyway, just so you know the real reason I made this thread, I want some suggestions on what to watch, because there isn't anyone in the world that likes controversial stuff more than me.


Which you did already, and got a bunch of suggestions there, some of which you dismissed.

I'm just really curious about something, and I don't mean to sound argumentative or "aggressive" by asking this.  With everything that is available on the Internet and via DVD, why do you have such a focus on 'beyond mainstream' television (by which I assume you mean broadcast television and not cable).

You can watch some truly appalling stuff these days...it's just about yours for the asking.  I'm sorry, but it just seems like with this thread (and the other one) that you keep saying "TV is not violent/controversial enough" with the implication that it should be.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 08:13:19 PM by ulthar » Logged

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vukxfiles
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2011, 07:14:24 PM »

I am looking for television shows because they last longer than a single movie. for example, I find it mor einteresting to watch the whole South Park show which has 14 seasons and running, which I know I like and can expect the same type of thing for those 14 seasons, than tracking various different movies with different settings, producers, etc.

Well, I never said that mainstream TV should have such obscene stuff as torture porn and such, I would just like it to be more liberal. Showing torture and mutilation for an hour and a half is too much, showing blood in the first seasons of Buffy isn't too much. So what's the problem? Why make a vampire show if you're gonna censor it by not portraying blood?
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2011, 08:08:46 PM »

We're in the middle of a bit of controversy in my university right now about whether or not nudity (especially male nudity) should be shown in the art department*, so I've been thinking about this issue a fair bit lately. My current stance is that the government should never be given control of what you can and can't view, but there has to be consideration of what context it's presented in. NC-17/R-rated gorn flicks, for example, probably shouldn't be shown during the middle of the day; the people who really want to see that kind of movie for the most part are okay with either renting it or waiting for it to come on late at night/in the wee hours of the morning.

This is why we still need human beings making decisions; there are lots of grey areas when it comes to making rules about entertainment, art, and culture, so somebody somewhere needs to make a judgment call. While broadcasters do carry the responsibility of deciding what they show and when a good time to show it is, ultimately it's up to the viewer/parents to decide what is and isn't appropriate to watch for themselves.

*The official ruling was that sexual acts and erect penises can't be shown in public areas; the rest is deemed okay because hiding an entire art genre, especially one that is so deeply entrenched in tradition and is highly educational, is considered censorship and a violation of a couple of the university's policies.
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ulthar
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 08:20:56 PM »


 I would just like it to be more liberal.


Okay, I get that...but the programming decisions are based on market research, and most people (here in the US) that watch television disagree.  They are selling a product, and if they make it too "liberal" as you are using the term, they will lose audience, and thus money.

There are not that many people being vocal about more sex | violence | gore | controversy on tv, and a whole heap that get darn vocal when it exceeds some invisible line.  The advertisers listen to the viewers (the vocal ones), and the program managers listen to the advertisers.

You'd have a hard sell of making it more liberal in your sense because those that oppose it can easily say that you have media ready made for that.  Showtime, Cinemax and HBO (among others) have plenty of uncensored (to R rating anyway) programming, and other pay channels go even further.  

Quote

So what's the problem? Why make a vampire show if you're gonna censor it by not portraying blood?


Buffy was not really about vampires in that sense. 

And why does it HAVE to have blood/gore...why NOT make a vampire show without portraying blood?  Assuming Buffy was intended to be "horror" (it was not), a lot of very effective horror has been made without much gore (we recently had a thread on it here, and had compiled quite an interesting list).  Indeed, horror tends to be more about fear than the gross-out, and graphically violent shows/movies are not really "horrific" in the classic sense.

Whedon choosing not to include a lot of blood in Buffy is not censorship, so I wish we'd leave that term out of the discussion.  "What's the problem" is that Whedon could not sell that particular program with a lot of blood in it, or simply chose to not include it for whatever reason...maybe he thought it would detract from the story telling he wanted to do.  After all, it was a character driven show, not a visual fx one.

You seem to be assuming that there is some sinister force keeping all the gore | sex | violence off the tv despite everyone wanting it, when the number of people wanting it is, apparently, very small.  If it were wanted by enough people, the tv and advertising industries, and the viewers themselves, would be actively and vocally lobbying for whatever FCC regulations ARE in place to be changed.  Sad as it might be, money is a pretty strong motivator for a lot of the people involved in such things.

So, this is not the government "protecting" us from something we really want to consume...it is simple free market forces.

Here's an experiment: write a show pilot containing whatever YOU seem to think is missing from TV and see if you can sell it to American tv studios.  I'll bet you'll find the biggest objections, especially if you target cable like Showtime 2, are not that it butts against the FCC regs but that it may be a hard sell to ratings wise.

That's just my guess, though.
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