Intimacy and Marriage: A Network Mismatch, Study Says

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, August 7, 2008

Your child is three times as likely to hear about sex with pets, corpses or someone else's wife on prime-time broadcast TV as to see a happily married couple having a roll in the hay, according to a new study by one of the self-appointed television watchdog groups.

I am clearly not watching the right TV shows.

"Everybody's having sex on TV except for husbands and wives," complained Parents Television Council President Tim Winter in re his group's latest study, "Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television."

Across the broadcast networks, references to adultery outnumbered references to conjugal sex by a 2-to-1 margin, the study said.

And when marriage is portrayed, it is almost always negative.

"Today's prime-time television programming is not merely indifferent to the institution of marriage and the stabilizing role it plays in our society, it seems to be actively seeking to undermine marriage by consistently painting it in a negative light," PTC concluded in the study, which features on its cover a little blond-haired, blue-eyed, ruby-lipped, apple-cheeked, pearl-necklaced bride doll and, way off in the background, her handsome boy-doll groom in white tie, tails and spongebag trousers.

Even more troubling, the study says, is TV's recent obsession with "outré sexual expression." Which apparently includes threesomes, partner-swapping, pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality and sex with prostitutes, not to mention strippers, masturbation, pornography, sex toys and something called "kinky or fetishistic behaviors," which we think bears further looking into.

And again, we're not talking MTV here, folks -- just broadcast TV.

ABC had the most references to marital sex, but many of the references were negative, while references to non-marital sex were almost all positive or neutral.

Interestingly, the PTC lumped transsexuals in with bestiality and necrophilia when looking at NBC, as in: "References to incest, pedophilia, partner swapping, prostitution, threesomes, transsexuals/transvestites, bestiality, and necrophilia combined outnumbered references to sex in marriage on NBC by a ratio of 27:1." And yet, no one's watching NBC. Go figure.

NBC, in fact, aired as many depictions of adults having sex with minors as scenes implying or depicting sex between married partners, PTC said.

Fox had only one reference to marital sex in 24.5 hours of programming, with 18 references to non-marital sex and five to adultery.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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