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ABC's new show 'Mistresses' accused of glamorizing adultery

Published: Thursday, May 30 2013 3:20 p.m. MDT

ABC's upcoming provocative drama, ABC's upcoming provocative drama, "Mistresses," follows the "scandalous lives" of four close friends and the relationships they encounter. (Danny Feld, ABC)

"Attraction. Passion. Deception. I can't help it."

These phrases are used to set the stage for ABC's upcoming provocative show "Mistresses."

The passion-filled drama, based off of a British series, is set to debut Monday, June 3, at 10 p.m. MDT. The show follows the "scandalous lives" of four close friends and the men they encounter. It will air in a nighttime slot, given that much of the content has been classified as soft pornography.

Although the consequences of infidelity in the world today are not enforced by law and society as they were in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter," adultery continues to be viewed negatively.

A recent Gallup poll, released on May 20, 2013, found that a majority of Americans continue to believe that married men and women having an affair is morally wrong. In fact, cheating on a spouse was the least acceptable behavior, according to the 1,535 Americans who participated in the poll about moral acceptability.

That's why when ABC announced its new drama people quickly began to question the glamorization of infidelity.

In an article published on The Daily Beast titled "Hey, ABC, so mistresses are OK now?," Sophia A. Nelson discusses the type of entertainment that has now become acceptable.

Nelson begins by repeating the show's description as being a "provocative and thrilling drama about the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery." Nelson then questions the clarity of the show's statement.

"Okay. So sleeping with married men (and in this case, married women) is now a pathway to self-discovery?" Nelson wrote. "Oy vey! What are we coming to?"

Nelson also discusses other shows, such as ABC's "Scandal," that has similar concerning content. Nelson then ultimately admits her own guilt for having supported some of the controversial content on television.

"I suddenly feel the need to drop to my knees, pray, and repent for gleefully indulging in promoting a show each week (‘Scandal’) that glorifies adultery, human weakness, human desire, murder, torture, and unbridled passion. I fear that doing so has given the executives at ABC license to now take ‘cheating’ to the next level by giving us an insider’s view into the lives of the ‘other woman.’”

Ultimately, Nelson pointed out the influence such entertainment may have on the future.

"We as adults and as creators of entertainment should be careful of the subtle yet powerful messages we are sending to the next generation about love, loyalty, honor, integrity, and commitment," Nelson said.

Nelson is not the only one speaking out. Several organizations, including One Million Moms, have already begun the fight to remove the program from network television.

Elaine Bradley, the drummer from the Provo-based band Neon Trees, also commented on the show's content. Bradley recently tweeted:

"ABC's show Mistresses. Tag line: You can't help who you fall in love with. Um, you CAN choose to NOT sleep with a married man. Just sayin."

Several others on Twitter have responded similarly. Kenzie Ziegler wrote, "The fact that ABC is making a show that glorifies cheating on your spouse disgusts me. #brokenworld."

Actor Jason Winston George, who plays Dominic in the series, discussed the show's content on Huffington Post Live, describing the focus of the plot.

"The fun part is that it's about the relationships, between the four women but also between the men that come in and out of their lives," George said. "Occasionally that means that people fall into a bed, for the most part it's about the decisions you make before you fall into bed, or the decisions when you decide not to fall in the bed."

George continued to express that while he believes in fidelity, the show simply opens up the topic discussion, rather than making any judgments. With this approach, George expressed that those who are in similar situations may watch the show and recognize the consequences could happen to them.

The founder of Mistresses Anonymous, and former mistress herself, Sarah Symonds also joined the conversation. To her, this type of network television show is long overdue.

"Of course America is ready — we've been ready for years. It's just the networks who haven't been willing to take those risks. I for one am thrilled that ABC is taking this show on," Symonds said. "It's very astonishing it hasn't happened before because in the states you've got shows about everything."

Others participating in the discussion had differing opinions. Tracy Schorn, founder of a site for individuals who have been cheated on, expressed her distaste for the show's portrayal of a glamorous and sophisticated mistress.

"It's the fluffy soap opera stuff I could watch before I was cheated on, but anyone who's experienced infidelity would find the premise of the show hugely offensive," Schorn said. "I think something like ‘Mistresses’ desensitizes our culture to the actual harm that infidelity does."

Yet, the cast and producers of the drama have continued to express that the show is not just about the scandal and deceitfulness of affairs.

"I'm getting really excited for you guys to see 'Mistresses,'" leading actress Alyssa Milano tweeted. "I promise it is about so much more than the title implies."

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