Maybe it’s because I’m a father that I notice these things more than I used to, but I was shocked, shocked I tell you, by the incredible number of sexual references last night on NBC’s two-hour comedy block. I mean, wow, it was actually unbelievable. My Name is Earl had a sex doll, The Office was about a flasher and had a plotline about Michael’s sexual activities with Jan, and Scrubs focused virtually all its energy on the notion of elderly folks having sex and JD trying to get with Melody (Keri Russell).
Thankfully, my child is not yet at the age where I have to worry about her being awake at that hour or her watching television in general, but I would have been distinctly uncomfortable watching the shows with her. Trying to explain the sex doll Joy got for Darnell on Earl would have been difficult, particularly when Joy explains to Darnell that it’ll be more lifelike if he puts it in a hot tub for 20 minutes or that the head is detachable. And, that’s the 8 PM show.
The Office was less explicit, but continued the theme. The numerous jokes about the flasher and the flashed bits, and Michael’s issues in bed with Jan (she insists on taping them and then playing it back with her therapist), while more serious than Earl’s doll (except for the bit where Michael pretended to be a flasher, putting his hand in his pants, lowering the zipper, and then sticking a finger out of the fly), continued the whole theme long enough for Scrubs to take the ball and run with it.
And, run with the ball Scrubs did. Carla and Elliot spent much of their time trying to figure out what was wrong with their elderly patients while JD did his best to get his hands (literally) on Melody, Elliot’s sorority sister. It eventually became clear that due to sexual enhancement drugs, the elderly folks had been successfully sleeping around and both contracted syphilis. Numerous jokes were made by and about Bob Kelso and his abilities in this area due to drugs as well.
The vast majority of the humor mined last night was sexually based, and that’s not usually the case on these shows. However, as the saying goes, “sex sells” and this is currently the May Sweeps period, so perhaps the producers of the programs were trying to cash in.
It all reminds me of the days when NBC used to run stunts during comedy blocks that revolved around stuff like blackouts. All the comedies would focus on the same theme, like suffering from the same power outage across all the shows. It was an idea put forth to enhance the flow from one show to the next and keep viewers tuned in. Now, rather than calling this the “sex jokes” night, NBC “super-sized” their comedies in funny ways. Watching it on TiVo, I noticed that a lot of the extra time on My Name is Earl and Scrubs were actually commercials and promos, or that’s certainly how it seemed.
I don’t know if NBC asked the shows to develop their shows around the sexual jokes, and I'm not saying that they did. The episodes were unquestionably funny, subject matter and all, I’m just thankful that I didn’t have to sit there with my child and watch them.