'Designated Survivor,' 'Pitch' among best new family-friendly TV shows

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Fox's Pitch, NBC's This Is Us and ABC's Designated Survivor are the fall's three best new television series for families, while Fox's Son of Zorn, ABC's American Housewife and CBS's Bull are the three worst, according to a report from the watchdog group Parents Television Council.

PTC's report does not mean that all of the programs are suitable for all ages – for example, Designated Survivor includes a few coarse words – but it does mean that the series stand out among the crowd.

The Parents Television Council was so impressed with Pitch that it is urging Fox to move the series away from Thursday night so it does not have to compete with NFL football games and other sporting events. The PTC also is encouraging advertisers to support Pitch, which tells the fictitious story of the first female pitcher in Major League Baseball history.

"Families are hungry for TV shows that can be enjoyed by and are safe for the entire family, and Pitch is a rare option in the TV universe that delightfully meets those criteria," said PTC President Tim Winter. "And Pitch offers an inspirational female lead character who instantly became a role model to children everywhere."

Designated Survivor tells the story of a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who becomes president when terrorists bomb the Capitol during a State of the Union speech, killing the president and most everyone else, too.

"There was little problematic content in the first episode: only a bit of mild language, no violence save the Capitol bombing off-screen, and Leo exchanging money for drugs at a dance party," the PTC report said. "Similar to shows like The Good Wife and Madam Secretary, Designated Survivor promises to be an involving drama with strong storytelling surrounding personalities and politics."

The drama This Is Us follows three people who share the same birthday.

"The program does contain a bit of adult content, such as Kate standing on the scale naked (seen from behind) and bemoaning her 'fat a--,' her date jokingly requesting a 'handy,' and Jack and Rebecca's doctor assuring them that he is expert in 'pulling eight-pound objects out of women's vaginas.' But these instances are always brief, and do not detract from the program's rich optimism and audience appeal," PTC reported.

Following is a summary of the three shows labeled as the fall's worst family-friendly series:

Fox's Son of Zorn: "The animated segments are far bloodier than the cartoons they are parodying (and that's supposedly part of the joke), with animated characters being killed in splats of blood, and Zorn himself boasting of feats like 'drinking the blood of my fallen enemies out of the skulls of their children.' Meanwhile, the live-action segments are a tired rehash of a 'irresponsible dad tries to make amends' story clumsily contrasted with Zorn's barbarian character." It also includes sexual content, the PTC said.

ABC's American Housewife: "Contains a large amount of content inappropriate for younger viewers. Continuing a disturbing trend in ABC's alleged 'family comedies' in recent years, the program features frequent uses of 'bi---,' 'a--,' and various bleeped profanities; sexualizing remarks about "the 'b--b fairy' visiting adolescent daughter Taylor, and Kate telling Greg that 'my b--bs are one-third gut;' and literal toilet humor, including scenes of father Greg 'taking a leisurely half-hour dump' as little AnnaKat stands before him watching."

CBS's Bull:"Contained a large amount of adult-themed dialogue, such as discussions about teenagers engaging in drinking, drug abuse, bondage, fetishism, and anal sex. A photograph of one girl, nude and tied up on a bed, is briefly seen, and another girl's battered corpse washes up on a beach. A man is shot, and another assaulted. Adult language, including uses of 'a--,' 'bi---,' 'pr--k,' 'di—' and similar words, is heard."