Parents Television Council ranks reality shows for kids but seems to ignore shows’ content

The Parents Television Council has conducted “an objective quantitative and qualitative analysis of the frequency and explicitness of foul language, sexual content, and violence present in each series” on primetime TV, and found that “some of the best and most age-appropriate shows for children to watch today are reality, or non-scripted, shows.”

Earlier this year, Brent Bozell, the president and founder of the PTC, wrote a column in February (in which he cited an essay of mine to support his argument) that American Idol is “raunchy” because of its “profanity-laced tirades.” He added that Dancing with the Stars showed “the same sleazy trend” with its “risque” costumes.

Those shows are now identified by the PTC as the “most suitable” for kids. Thus, it seems painfully obvious that whoever conducted the study forgot to actually watch the shows recently.

In the “Questionably Suitable” category, helpfully labeled with a yellow light for the simpletons who actually would use this as a guide to parent their children, Survivor was at the bottom of the pack, in part because “contestants have been involved in sexual situations,” and naughty parts are naughty. However, it seems as though the PTC thinks we’re still in season six, not season 13: the examples cited include Michael Skupin passing out in the fire in season two, and Jenna and Heidi stripping for peanut butter and chocolate seven seasons ago.

In the “Most Suitable” category, American Idol is praised for being “wholesome, family-friendly entertainment” that “is an entertaining show that the entire family can enjoy.” Yes, because the whole family can appreciate gay jokes and nonstop references to drunkenness.

The rules seem to be applied unevenly. Survivor is criticized for its sexuality, yet Dancing with the Stars is called “an elegant program that the whole family can gather around the television to watch.” Yes, if the whole family wants to study Mario Lopez’s package.

Top 10 Best and Worst Shows on Primetime Network TV and The Cleanest TV Shows for Children are Reality Shows? [Parents Television Council]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.