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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Cable TV is becoming more provocative. Here’s why.

<p><span>Photo by </span><a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/1otSHxpCBI4?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Jonathan Cosens - JCP</a><span> on </span><a href="https://unsplash.com/search/photos/tv?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></p>

Whatever happened to television shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “That’s So Raven”? Shows that are sweet and often have a happy ending. Nowadays, if someone turns on the television, networks are most likely playing some type of provocative show. For example, the first episode of “Enemy of the State” involved at least four murders. All of this led me to think: Is television becoming too violent and sexual?

The phrase “sex sells” didn’t just pop up. It feels like producers, directors and executives are sitting in meetings thinking about the next big thing they can do to beat out the competing shows. For example, the show “Grey’s Anatomy” is the perfect example of violence and sex. There’s not a character on the show that hasn’t experienced some sort of violence or hasn’t had a sex scene. Yet, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not only a popular show, but it’s also a long-running show. This means the show is able to maintain a strong audience through many seasons. So, I’m going to answer the question. Yes, of course television is becoming too violent and sexual. But networks have a very good reason to do so.

Clearly, subscription services like Netflix have transformed the broadcast industry. In today’s world, people no longer need to wait for a show to premiere or tune in every night at the same time. Instead, everything is at our fingertips. If we want to watch the entire season of NBC’s “Good Girls,” we can and without commercials. However, what makes things complicated for the networks is censorship. Unlike broadcast television, Netflix has leeway. Netflix can have shows that include adult content like nudity, violence and profane language. Networks like ABC need to follow the FCC censorship rules pertaining to indecent and obscene behavior and profane language. So, when you think about it, networks are in a lose-lose situation. Some might even say it’s unfair. Networks have to obey the rules of the Federal Communications Commission, but subscription services have breathing room to explore and create.

In turn, network and cable companies are struggling. The prices for cable and satellite television have gone higher as more people stop buying it. So, networks are in a bad position. But they’re trying to fight back. Networks are trying to follow the trend and create competitive shows. To compete, networks are making their shows more interesting by addressing topics not normally discussed on cable television.

Even Disney Channel is entering the game by addressing sexuality. For the first time ever, the cable network is tackling homosexuality as Cyrus, a character on the popular show “Andi Mack,” discovers he has feelings for his best friend’s boyfriend. Disney is a corporation known for sticking with traditional family values and content. So, the fact that a character is finally being created to represent sexuality is amazing. Even Disney is changing gears and stepping outside of the box. Therefore, you can’t expect other networks to not do the same.

As our society and the broadcast industry change, it is expected for cable networks to change with them. Networks are finding ways to work with the FCC rules, yet still, l give the general public what they want. Aside from children’s shows, if you’re one of those people thinking broadcast television is free from violence and sex, ask yourself: When is the last time I watched a show that didn’t have a hint of violence and sex? Take your time. I’ll wait.

Anede Siffort is a UF journalism senior. Her column normally appears on Fridays.

Photo by Jonathan Cosens - JCP on Unsplash

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