Parents, do you know what your children are watching? Don't worry if you don't, that's why organizations like the Parents Television Council exist. The PTC has long acted in the interest of parents who don't want their kids to see something too crazy on television, and now the organization has taken aim at Saturday Night Live. While the parties don't clash too frequently, the PTC is worried about recent changes in the show's programming that could affect children.
We reported last week that Saturday Night Live would be airing live all around the nation in its final four episodes of Season 42. While that sounds like amazing news for the West Coasters who have been forced to watch a tape delay all seasons prior, it gives organizations like the PTC cause to worry. Check out what they had to say (via The Wrap):
Just as NBC anticipates reaching a much bigger and broader viewing audience for SNL with this programming decision, that audience is likely to include children who would not otherwise be watching at 11:30 p.m. Over the years, there has been the occasional instance of a performer going rogue, with an 'f-bomb' or something off-script. NBC's broadcast standards team must be particularly on guard given that SNL will air live during multiple time zones.
While not too many households usually have their children awake at 11:30 pm ET on the East Coast, many parents on the West Coast might. Those living on the West Coast will be seeing the show air around 8:30 pm Pacific Time and 9:30 pm Mountain Time. As we're sure NBC is already aware, those times hit well before the safe harbor period for television as dictated by the FCC, which means the network could face some penalties should a particularly bad swear word come out live.
Those moments are rare on Saturday Night Live, but they do happen. Past host Dave Chappelle clearly thought he crossed a line when he used an unsavory word during his monologue a couple months back, and there were whispers Jenny Slate was dropped from the cast after one season when she used the word live. As a young teen, I distinctly remember watching System Of A Down drop an F-Bomb while performing "B.Y.O.B." Maybe the PTC is onto something with the show's impact on children. The PTC continued their advice to SNL:
We also urge NBC to rate SNL appropriately, which means that the show may warrant a TV-MA (mature audiences) if the network cannot assure families that the show's normal TV-14 rating will be accurate.
So will NBC take heed of the Parents Television Council's request? The TV-MA rating seems a bit excessive, but you don't want to risk butting heads with the FCC. To its credit, Saturday Night Live is leading off the live stint with perhaps the most family friendly veteran guest you could have: Jimmy Fallon. The list continues with some other (hopefully) family friendly hosts like Dwayne Johnson, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris Pine, who is the only first-time host on the list. Something tells me all the hosts will be on their best behavior, and let's hope everyone else on the Saturday Night Live staff is as well. If not, rest assured the PTC and the FCC will come knocking.