CBS’ pap smear gift PSA has versions for Christmas, Hanukkah, which says “schmear”

Perhaps the most awesomely unexpectedly entertaining part of The Amazing Race 15‘s finale last night was a PSA that aired during one of the commercial breaks. It’s so random and amusing, if not a little jarring, that I thought it was a parody at first:

Yes, CBS wants you to give a pap smear as a present. The best part is that there’s also a generic holiday version (though with a Santa reference), and one targeted toward Jewish viewers that is the most fun of all, as it has both double-entendre and a reference to a “schmear”:

CBS senior VP Matthew Margo, who created the PSAs, wrote on the web site for CBS Cares, where you can watch all of the different versions, about where the idea came from: dinner (“I was waiting for my appetizer when I overheard two women diners talking about pap smears”).

Margo told the New York Daily News that “The menorah can mean different things to different people. It’s just a menorah, not a flamethrower. We exercised a lot of restraint.” He also said “If your main objective is to offend no one, than you’re on a fast track to being irrelevant. In the case of Pap smears, we knew in order to communicate more effectively, there was a possibility that some viewers — and it’s a real minority — might be offended.”

I can’t imagine who’d be offended by it, but they’re probably the same people who lead CBS to blur out crotches on reality shows. Medical advice and associated jokes about crotches: okay. Actual visible crotches: not okay.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.