Study shows ~70% increase in bad language on TV


I remember when I was younger and was watching TV with the family, my parents would balk at any rude words uttered on-screen. It’s not that I didn’t know the words already, but it’s traditionally a parent’s duty to shield their children from things that are harmful, and in many ways bad language is harmful for those at the more impressionable ages.

However, prime time US TV has over the years increased its familiarity with what is considered ‘mild swearing’ – words like “ass”, “crap” and “hell” have become commonplace in recent times. Words with sexual connotations, mostly slang for various areas of the body, are also uttered on TV before 10pm far more often than in the past.

From the article:

On Monday night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men,” there were references to cocaine, prostitution and two women being intimate with each other. No, they weren’t reading from star Charlie Sheen’s diary, it was just business as usual for the hit CBS sitcom.


According to “Habitat for Profanity: Broadcast TV’s Sharp Increase in Foul Language,” a study released by PTC (Parents TV Council) on Tuesday, there has been an almost 70% jump in bad words on broadcast TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW) in the last five years. Most disturbing to the PTC is that the time period showing the biggest gains is not the 10 p.m. hour when more adults are watching, but the 8 p.m and 9 p.m. hours, which attract younger viewers.

Many years ago I listened to George Carlin’s infamous “7 Dirty Words” sketch, where he outlined the 7 words you absolutely cannot say on TV. However, since that sketch some of these words have crept onto late-night shows, so it makes you wonder how long it will be before Carlin’s list becomes obsolete.

Is all this foul language really necessary? Is swearing an essential part of comedy? Certainly not. Does it make a show ‘cooler’ for younger viewers? Perhaps.

Perhaps if the writers of Two and a Half Men – generally considered to be a ‘family show’ – concentrated more on making the script funny, rather than littering it with mild profanity, the PTC would not be complaining so much…