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Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014
Reality television has come for our children. And there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.

Now well over ten years old as a major television genre (I chart as its origin the debut of Survivor on CBS in 2000), the fact that “reality TV” is now concentrating more and more on kids should not come as any great surprise. 


We have already had a decade of adults humiliating and demeaning themselves on reality TV for any number of things—for jobs, for love, for “glory”, even for food (Survivor, Big Brother).  So, after all that, where else was there to go?


The recent debut of the Esquire Channel’s controversial Friday Night Tykes and Lifetime’s unfortunately enduring Dance Moms series are answering the question above.


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Thursday, Jan 30, 2014
When it comes to its programming, what put the cable channel on the map may soon also lead to its downfall.

There’s certainly no need to cry any tears for Bravo… yet. Right now the cable channel is riding high. The channel can currently count among its line-up at least one prestige program, Inside the Actor’s Studio, one classy Emmy-winning reality series, Top Chef, and a true pop culture phenomenon, thanks to its gaggle of catty Real Housewives.


How quickly things have changed. Not so long ago, Bravo was barely known and even then viewed only as a lower-rent A&E. Then, in the early 2000s, with the breakout success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (premiered 2003) and the now departed-for-Lifetime Project Runway (premiered 2004), the channel began to emerge. But it hit its greatest stride of course with the evolution and development of what can only be called the “reality soap opera”, a somewhat newly emerged genre best epitomized by the likes of the Real Housewives franchise.


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Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014
Recent trends in black and white viewership are changing TV's big picture, making it not so black and white.

A few months ago, I took on the topic of daytime TV convinced that, in 2013, after decades of population expansion and demographic shifts, there was no way that the daytime audience was still primarily stay-at-home moms….  But, in the process of researching and writing the article, I learned that despite a few evolving trends, the primary audience for daytime TV was, yes, stay-at-home moms. 


Recently, when I decided to look at the concept of what I call primetime TV’s “self-segregation”—that what whites are watching and what blacks are watching are two distinctly separate lists—I assumed that I would, once again, find a deep and troubling divide. I had more than just a hunch to go on for this assumption. Back in 1996 I had read a stunning list, the top 10 shows among African-American viewers for a random week as determined by the A.C. Nielsen Company. It contained such shows as Living Single, Martin, New York Undercover, and Family Matters.


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Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013
By speaking more freely about rape, do we help destigmatize it? Or do we run the risk of trivializing it and cheapening its devastation?

As 2013 nears end, I’m starting to think that this year has been the year of the oxymoron. If the phrase “internet privacy” isn’t enough to prove the point, then surely the concept of the “rape joke” is.


Yet, for all the trouble that various male comics (like Daniel Tosh) have gotten into this past year with their attempts to wring humor from the topic of rape, it’s interesting to note that various female comics have been making remarks about rape (and getting away with it) for many years. Sarah Silverman once joked that as a Jewish girl, getting raped by a doctor was a mixed blessing. And both Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer (on their respective cable TV shows) have made jokes about their own supposed childhood molestation.


Tagged as: rape jokes
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Monday, Nov 25, 2013
No show in recent memory has showcased such powerful and alluring women, and the performances of Jessica Lange, Emma Roberts, and Angela Bassett are pitch-perfect.

Near the end of 2013, two seminal television dramas are winding down: The Breaking Bad finalé aired at the end of September, while the once great Mad Men limps towards its final season. So what’s the best show on television now? Even though we’re only halfway through the current season of American Horror Story: Coven, let’s crown it now.


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