SALT LAKE CITY — The Parents Television Council has discovered a new trend in television thanks to its new research: adult characters consistently making sexually explicit references in front of child characters.
The PTC’s recent research found that adult characters, such as parents and teachers, make references to sex in front of their children or student characters on the shows.
The new study, called "Lewd by Example," discovered that 80 percent of all primetime network family comedies that they researched — including Fox's "Last Man Standing" and NBC's "This Is Us" — contained adult characters using sexual dialogue in front of children.
One example in the study cited the NBC show “A.P. Bio” and highlighted a scene of an upset teacher using sexually explicit language in front of his students.
“When it comes to airing sexually charged dialogue in front of children, the broadcast television networks eagerly appear to be saying ‘me too’ when they could be saying ‘#metoo,’” said PTC President Tim Winter in a statement.
He said this dialogue is “coming at a time when our nation is grappling with a crisis of inappropriate sexual provocation. Furthermore, the networks are marketing this alarming content trend as being appropriate for children to watch.”
According to Winter, the new PTC study indicates that the content rating system needs to take moments like these into consideration.
“Our study reveals a fundamental problem with the way TV shows are rated. Each TV network assigns its own ratings, and oversight of the system is then handed to a group of the very same network executives who routinely rate programs inaccurately,” Winter said. “It’s a dirty secret that the networks would lose advertising revenue by rating content accurately because most mainstream corporations won’t sponsor programming rated TV-MA. The TV content rating system needs to be reviewed by the regulatory authorities and entirely overhauled.”
Additional findings from the study:
- A total of 75 percent of “family comedies” from ABC contained sexually explicit language.
- On CBS, 60 percent of “family comedies” included language that was sexually explicit.
- All Fox and NBC “family comedies” reviewed for the study contained scenes with adults using sexual dialogue in front of children.
- The PTC study found that NBC’s "A.P. Bio" contained the most instances of adult sexual dialogue in front of children, followed by, in order: Fox's "The Mick," ABC's "American Housewife," CBS's "Life in Pieces" and Fox's "Family Guy."
Winter has been at the forefront of a nationwide push to bring more family-friendly content to modern American culture.
The PTC and Winter made national headlines in August after he wrote an opinion piece for USA Today in which he said Netflix has turned its back on families.
“Shiny and powerful, Netflix is the entertainment industry’s Trojan horse — a seeming gift for families, allowing parents some control over what their kids can watch. In reality, what Netflix delivers should give parents extreme pause,” he wrote.
As my report for the Deseret News explained, Winter said Netflix doesn’t consider family audiences when choosing content to create.
“But Netflix has so far been unwilling to make the kind of meaningful reforms that would make family viewing a safe and enjoyable experience for all members of the family, and has been too willing to defend potentially harmful, problematic, even pornographic content,” he wrote.