There’s no hiding the sexual explicit content on today’s television. A commercial, a music video, a teenagers TV series all share the guilt of portraying sexual content to audiences well below its understanding. We can begin with the obvious vehicle of sexual content, MTV. Yes, we’re all aware of MTV’s falling out with its namesake of playing music on television and its turn to exploiting pregnant teenagers, drunk guidos and houses of raunchy and ridiculous twentysomethings.
When I Love Lucy debuted the first pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman on television some sixty years ago, that was considered a break in social barriers and controversial. Today, there are countless shows based solely on the concept of pregnancy. One in particular has stirred up the idea that getting pregnant at the age of 16 is acceptable. 16 and Pregnant on MTV follows a few teenage girls who have accidentally gotten pregnant by their usually less than desirable high school boyfriends and the issues that follow. Yes, this show displays the girls in difficult positions based on their pregnancy and the rift it usually creates between them and their parents; but in the end, they have a television show on MTV, while girls who make wise decisions are do not. Even the spinoff of this show, Teen Mom, sends a sad message to young girls. As one of the mothers uses her minimal fame to kick start a modeling career, another has child abuse charges being brought upon her. Out of all the couples who produced a child, the couple who made the rational decision of placing their child up for adoption happens to be the only set still together. While this should send a positive message that there can be life after a pregnancy or adoption and that keeping the child may not be the best idea, the two are the only ones not in school or pursuing any form of higher education. None of the situations that arise from this series give a positive message to the viewers.
One of the longest running MTV shows, The Real World, has gained success by housing 7-8 total strangers in an exciting city for three months. Of course, putting a handful of those between the ages of 20-25, in a house together for that amount of time is a recipe for televised sex. Throughout the 20 or so seasons of The Real World, we have seen dozens of onscreen hot tub hook-ups and in bed trysts. There are night vision cameras in all of the bedrooms, a hot tub, and private confessional rooms all of which there have been roommate rendezvous. There were even rumors within the 12th season, filmed in Las Vegas, that aphrodisiacs were pumped through the air vents for an even spicier season.