Television today barely resembles the shows of even a decade ago — and I’m not just talking about the advent of high-definition programming. Studies have shown that there is nearly double the number of sexual images on television since 1998. Television shows today are more like soft-core pornography than entertainment, and there are no signs of this "trend" stopping.
Current televisions shows are far more sexually explicit than television shows of the mid 90s and early 2000s, and it's not just shows that are primarily aimed for the 18-49 year old demographic. Shows like Glee and Awkward are set in high schools and are all aimed at teenagers, and are some of the most explicit shows on television today. This is troubling.
It didn't always used to be this way. Take the television show Boy Meets World, for instance. Boy Meets World aired on ABC from 1993-2000 (and continues to be aired in syndication), and focused on the life of Cory Matthews, his best friend Shawn Hunter, and their families from the time Cory was in middle school through to his entrance to college. Midway through the series, Cory realized that he had a crush on Topanga Lawrence, whom he then dated, got engaged to, and married during the show's run. A spin-off featuring their now-teenage daughter is due to hit the airwaves this fall. Clearly, the show was successful and was enjoyed by a variety of people over a 20-year period.
What was not shown on Boy Meets World, however, was sex. While there was one episode that dealt with a very frank discussion about premarital sex on prom night, Cory and Topanga weren't knocking boots all the time. The quality of the show didn't suffer due to the lack of coitus, either. It was a quality television show that many look fondly upon even today, 13 years after its initial run.
Compare that to how television is today. On the Emmy-award winning show Glee, the president of the chastity club was pregnant by the end of the fourth episode. Glee also had an episode that depicted its various high-school aged characters losing their virginities, and characters are constantly being told that they need to be "sexier" in their songs. These are characters are mostly between the ages of 14 and 18.
On the third episode of the MTV show Awkward., Lissa and her boyfriend Jake are celebrating their three-month anniversary, which Lissa is informed is the “latex” anniversary. Later on in the episode, Lissa (who also happens to be the president of the chastity club at her high school — was I the only one whose high school lacked a chastity club?) informs Jake that while she's not entirely comfortable with the idea of sex, he’s free to take her "behymen."
Keep in mind, this show is about a high school, is advertised to teens, and airs during prime time hours and during the afternoon. Would you want your high school freshman asking you what a "behymen" is?
Furthermore, could you imagine Topanga telling Cory that her "beyhmen" is up for grabs? It's tasteless. It's unnecessary.
I must wonder why people are letting this sexualized takeover of television happen without a fight. While Glee’s ratings have taken a nosedive, the show has been renewed for several seasons. It’s not going anywhere. Neither is Awkward., which recently became MTV’s longest-running scripted comedy.
This type of television should neither be considered appropriate nor acceptable for young viewers. Television should hold on to some shred of morality and return to its classic roots.