Television is getting pretty scary these days, what with all that cursing, sex, violence and overacting, which is why I appreciate a good program-content warning.
I like to know before I settle down in front of the box if the latest episode of American Idol contains “mild sexual references”, or if the latest South Park will contain some “crude and indecent language”, or if the repeat of Everybody Loves Raymond will contain any jokes at all.
But I think the networks should take their rating systems further and really give us a sense of what we can expect in a TV show. I’d like to see the warning “Tonight’s episode of The Biggest Loser may contain images that may not be suitable for people eating their dinner”, or “The following program, So You Think You Can Dance, contains unbridled egos, occasional insincere crocodile tears and numerous tantrums”.
That would be my cue to turn off.
So, for the safety of the viewing public, here are some content warnings for some popular TV shows.
- LOST – The following program is rated “Confusing”. It contains never-ending storylines, convoluted premises, and never-resolving script threads.
- HOUSE MD – This program may induce medical paranoia and is not suitable for hypochondriacs.
- GREYS ANATOMY – The following program contains circular storylines, ridiculous sentimentality, sickly love stories and self-important characters and should not be watched by anyone.
- BIG BROTHER – The following program contains spectacularly-dull examples of humanity.
- DEXTER – This program may encourage vigilante behaviour in rednecks and idiots.
- AMERICAN IDOL – This program contains numerous instances of people who think warbling through multiple octaves somehow makes them a good singer.
- AUSTRALIAN IDOL – This program will contain multiple instances of a self-important obnoxious, talentless commercial-radio hack making judgements based purely on flawed opinion and arrogant assumption.
- 60 MINUTES – May contain traces of truth.
- E! – May contain traces of entertainment (but probably not).
- TWO AND A HALF MEN – This program contains overuse of canned laughter, even though no discernible joke has been delivered.
- THE APPRENTICE – This program contains images of Donald Trump’s hair, which may cause seizures.
- NEIGHBOURS (Aust) – Seriously implausible storylines, appalling dialogue and insipid actors with aspirations to be popstars. (See also HOME AND AWAY).
- THE HILLS – The following program may contain the ridiculous premise that the situations are real and not carefully scripted by cynical network executives.
- 24 – The following program may contain a premise that was a good idea for one series, but has now been completely thrashed to death.
- DANCING WITH THE STARS – May contain people you recognise but cannot put a name to, embarrassing themselves in front of the nation.
- AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL – May reinforce all your worst fears about how dumb pretty people are.