LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Two media watchdog groups are warning parents that despite the TV-PG rating of ABC's new comedy "The Real O'Neals," the program is anything but family-friendly.
The show debuted in early March and follows the lives of a Chicago-based Catholic family that has a gay 16-year-old son, a 17-year-old son is who anorexic, a 14-year-old daughter who is questioning her faith, and two parents who are divorcing.
The plot itself would make some families nervous about their children watching it, but the Parents Television Council (PTC) said the show's episodes are full of adult content and should not be aired at 7:30 p.m., which is the broadcast time in about half the country.
Research by the PTC showed that that "The Real O'Neals" includes bleeped profanities every 43 seconds and a significant amount of sexual references and innuendo. In fact, of the adult-themed content, 83 percent was sexual, the PTC research showed.
"ABC has essentially inserted explicit and adult-themed humor into a PG-rated primetime program that is about a family, created for families, and aired at a time when children are likely to be watching," said PTC President Tim Winter. "Even worse, much of the sexual and expletive-laced dialogue is delivered by characters who are children. Simply put, the network is defrauding parents by rating this show as appropriate for young children."
According to the TV ratings system, TV-PG means the program "contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children" – implying that the program is OK for older children. Programs with adult content often carry a TV-14 rating, which means the "program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age."
"The Real O'Neals" contains content that would not be included in a PG-rated film, Winter added.
"Is sexual dialogue among minors really appropriate for a TV-PG show?" he asked. "Are the standards for Disney-owned TV-PG content that dramatically different than Disney-released PG films, such as Cinderella, Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur? I'd argue that most parents would not agree that the kind of content found in 'The Real O'Neals' is anywhere near acceptable for family audiences."
A second media watchdog group, One Million Moms, said the new program "mocks Christianity and insults Catholicism." One Million Moms released a list detailing the offensive content. It included:
- "Jesus appears where only the gay son can see and talk to Him, and He is annoyed by the mom's strict guidelines for her family.
- "The daughter 'attempts to prove' there is no God in a science fair project.
- "A statue of Mary is kept above the O'Neal's toilet to remind the boys to put the seat down.
- "The mother encourages her 16-year-old gay son to 'try sex' with a girl.
- "The mom makes pancakes shaped like the face of Jesus to guilt trip her anorexic son into eating."
Winter said the program should be given a different rating and moved to a later time.
"We call on the network to reconsider its content rating for this program," Winter said. "And we call on all corporate sponsors to reconsider whether their brands should be associated with a show that spews such explicit content without any real consideration for family viewers."