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Don’t Judge Me

American Idol

This week Jermaine Jones was dismissed from American Idol. The “Gentle Giant’s” dismissal from the show came after it was revealed that he has at least 5 outstanding arrest warrants.

While it isn’t the worst scandal in the history of American Idol, it is certainly one of the most interesting to come along since we said goodbye to those felonius Brittenum twins in 2006.

This week, Jermaine Jones leaves Fox’s hit show and heads home to New Jersey- where he will finally appear in court to answer for a string of crimes allegedly committed over the past 6 years.

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The Good, The Bad, and the B@!%#¥

When we don’t understand how something works, assumptions born from ignorance often rule the day.

Because of this, it’s hard to go a day without hearing someone complain about how television is corrupting society. But I submit to you that television isn’t ruining America, America is ruining television.

I’ll explain why.

As a business, television gives us what we ask for. We tell television what we want by watching the programming. When we aren’t getting what we want, channels get changed or televisions get turned off.

With Tivo tracking what we are watching, recording, and pausing to stare at, network executives immediately know what we enjoy and what kind of programs should be put into development.

Shows move from development into “time slots” where they will attempt to “find an audience”;

Children watch in the morning,
Mothers in the afternoon,
The elderly in the early evening,
And 18-45 year old males rule the night.

Nights of the week also factor into the equation, with Thursday being the night with the largest audiences and Saturday being the smallest.

The more people watch a television broadcast, the more the networks can charge for commercials. Well watched television programs command incredible sums of money from advertisers, who in turn profit from the massive exposure.

One good program on Thursday night can carry a network for years.

When a television program loses its heavyweight status, it gets moved from a lucrative time slot to make way for another program to emerge.

Over the past 8 years ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was a financial champ while drawing praise critics and viewers alike. This year the housewives sign off from Wisteria lane and ABC begins looking to replace it with something “edgy, relatable, and addictively watchable.”

Networks prefer to have their next heavyweight waiting in the wings. NBC developed “Seinfeld” over a period of years, then used it to naturally replace “Cheers”, eventually moving “Friends” in to replace the loss of Jerry and the gang.

But for every successful network replacement there are countless failures like “Coupling” and “@#$% my Dad Says”.

While replacing a sitcom can be difficult, replacing a “guilty pleasure” show like Desperate Housewives is nearly impossible.

While Fox managed to spin Melrose Place off of Beverly Hills 90210, there really isn’t a formula for creating a program that can get you invested in the lives of reprehensible people while stimulating the mind and titillating the libido.

For every “Sex and the City”, there are many “Undercovers”.

ABC thinks it’s found an answer to this conundrum with their next offering for the self-indulgent:

GCB moves into the Housewives time slot on March 4th.

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Lily Says The F-Word

Picture copyright ABC studios

As a “non-parent” I don’t have a well-developed, or fine tuned, sense of what is age appropriate behavior for kids.  I probably would have taken a 7 year-old to see the Lord of the Rings, thinking it would be fun…

and been responsible for the ensuing host of nightmares.

On top of this, I have a hard time determining a child’s relative age. I will often say things like, “That kid is an amazing violinist, I couldn’t have done that at 9”, to which my wife will kindly reply, “That kid is 14.”

What I do know is that it isn’t appropriate for any kid to be using swear words.

Which is why it’s so funny to the rest of us when your kid does it.

In front of

Parents,

Grandparents,

Sunday School teachers,

or

Police officers

and

Cashiers.

The humor in this is actually twofold:

1.) The child isn’t usually aware of the “meaning and significance” of the word they just used. They’ve simply “parroted” a word that they’ve heard from another person. Using it in an incorrect social setting, or conjugation, causes a shock to the hearer, which is usually disregarded with humor to avoid embarrassing the child or parent.

2.) The child has usually just given you up as their “unidentified source” regardless of your, “I bet they just picked that up in the neighborhood or at school” comment.

You see, it’s not just that “Kids Say The Darndest Things”, it’s that they say them at the darndest times: usually when a disapproving pastor or persnickety mother-in-law is present.

Tonight on ABC’s Modern Family, 2 year-old Lily drops an “F-bomb”. Needless to say, this has already been a cause for concern for some conservative interest groups and social watchdogs.

While the child actor doesn’t actually use the real F-word, and her mouth is pixellated while the word is “bleeped”, many people have concerns about the depiction and implication.

Since Modern Family deals with many of the problems that parents face while raising their kids, it’s not necessarily a departure for the program. In fact, the show has dealt with larger and less common issues than this.

I think the problem is that this is happening on Modern Family; a show where two gay men are raising an adopted daughter together.

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