As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of shows on basic cable, USA in particular. (With the exception of that stupid show about the not lawyer girl but I haven’t seen any adds for that one in a while so I think they may have cancelled it.) This summer my friends at USA have put together a great new show called Suits it’s silly and not very realistic but still very fun and the WonderHusband and I quite enjoy it. Except for one thing.
In recent months the FCC must have changed the rules for basic cable. Specifically, allowing the use of words that were previously verboten, the angered reference to excrement, the allusion the a certain part of the male anatomy (when not actually talking about the male anatomy) once per show only, or so it appears, but all of these have shown up in the midst of this otherwise delightful show.
Does the casual use of words that are, at least in my world, not casually used completely ruin the show? No, not completely. Am I going to stop watching it? No, it’s not that big of a deal , I regularly hear worse than that at work, in the grocery store, on the train, etc. But it is a little off-putting and, what almost bugs me more, it doesn’t make any sense.
Now, I don’t work in television, I don’t pretend to know what goes into assembling an audience for a show. I don’t know about demographics or … any of that stuff (I don’t even know enough of the jargon to come up with another word to use there). But it seems to me that the first thing you’re going to want to do if you’re the producer of a show like Suits is to know your audience and give them what they want.
Here’s a hint, the audience for a show on basic cable is not interested in pushing FCC boundaries. If I wanted to be cussed at (and/or to watch naked people and/or blood guts and gore) I’d watch HBO. I’m not watching HBO, I choose not to which means that I don’t really want to be sworn at. But they’re trying to make it realistic, you argue. Have you ever met a lawyer in NY? Because I’m here to tell you that throwing in a single reference to what bears do in the woods in an hour does not even come close to what you’d hear in the first five minutes talking to an actual big apple lawyer. So if you can’t get realism why pretend to try? (Also if you’re going for realism perhaps you shouldn’t start with a show about a guy working as a lawyer for a big powerful law firm who’s never attended law school or passed the bar (in his own name) because I’m pretty sure that any decent HR department would check that stuff.)
It’s possible that my objections make me some kind of religious fanatic nut and that no one else in the country cares. I’m willing to accept that if that’s the case. I just doubt that it is. There are too many options out there. In entertainment, viewers can find whatever it is they’re looking for, from Dexter to Hannah Montana* so when I choose to watch USA or TBS, or TNT, I do so with a certain expectation, that if my children happen to wander into the room I’m not going to have to hurry and pause my show.** So far I haven’t felt like I would. I’d really like to keep it that way.
*I’m trying to decide which of these shows is more offensive to me. I don’t know.
**It occurs to me that I have that I have that expectation of the shows on basic cable but not of those on network TV, I expect tho have to censor those. That’s a little sad.