Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The one thing I recall from the one episode of Southland I watched was the bleeped swear words. Other people noticed too and sighed a collective WT[Bleep].

Yes, the carefully created standards that govern where and when characters get to swear (network before 10pm, after 1am; cable; HBO; on-demand; yadda yadda) are hard to predict if you don't specifically follow such things. Unlike AdAge, however, I don't have too much of an issue with the bleeping. In fact, on many shows, it's funnier. Jon Stewart's bleeps are hilarious. In fact, didn't the bleep come to the fore with, what was it, the Osbornes - like 10 years ago?

In Southland, I'm sure the bleep was calculated to give it that gritty, so-real feeling. It has nothing to do with "but cops do swear on the job" and everything to do with "this will give us that hint of reality TV that COPS achieves so well."

As my mother knows and shakes her head over routinely, I swear like a longshoreman (blame the hometown?) and I'm sure that in law enforcement, mob life, and beauty salons, there's plenty of f-bombing because that's how people talk. I disagree, however, that the Sopranos would've been silly without the F-word. With "friggin'" it might have been. But had they just left out swears and swear-placeholders, I doubt people would've focused on it. Good writers don't need the f-bomb as a crutch. It can add some flair, but if Tony Soprano saying "fuck" every other word is what makes you, the viewer, think the Sopranos is such a great, true-life show, then . . . oh please, then you live nowhere near Jersey and you're not in the mob, right? Of course you aren't. 99.9% of the audience isn't, so what the hell do you care if there's more or less swearing.

Anyway - bleeps are funny and work better in comedy than in drama as many, many, mannnnny shows routinely demonstate. As for Southland, well, that show has bigger reasons for eye-rolling from the audience. Don't get me started on the show's presumptions about L.A. and the L.A.P.D. . . . .

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