While regular cable networks still have quite a way to go to catch up with premium cable stations as far as nudity and violence are concerned, things are slowly moving forward when it comes to foul language. Over on Syfy, the fantasy drama The Magicians has occasionally taken its dialogue to extremes with some F-bombs sprinkled throughout episodes. And while some viewers are confused on the matter, star Arjun Gupta has an explanation for it.
Before the pilot I was like cool, this is just the script and we are going to get the TV safe script soon, and that never came. And I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ and I didn’t want to talk about it because I was hoping that it would never come, and it never has. It’s been amazing. The story I heard, which I don’t know can be confirmed, is that Syfy told us to go darker and has been incredibly supportive of pushing the boundaries.
To be clear, Syfy doesn’t quite give its characters free reign on using “fuck” in every other sentence, and there appear to be some stipulations on the context in which it can be said. Plus, there is some censoring, though not the entire word. Usually it’ll be the “u” in the expletive that will get dropped, and the “ing” if it happens to be a seven-letter word instead of a four-letter one. (And the closed captioning is also weirdly censored.) But still, whereas past shows like Breaking Bad would occasionally be given a pass on using a totally censored F-bomb once a season, The Magicians is using this tactic multiple times an episode.
So now that we know that Syfy is the entity pushing this kind of dialogue forward, we want to know how they’re able to get away with it. Arjun Gupta told Collider that showrunners John McNarama and Sera Gamble would have a better answer to this, since they’re the ones who work directly with the network, so it’s possible that we’ll actually get an answer to that at some point in the future.
Not that Syfy is the only network throwing that kind of language out there. FX’s The People v O.J. Simpson let Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clarke recently drop a full-blown “motherfucker” at the end of an episode. And now that The Walking Dead has brought the foulmouthed villain Negan into the story, we will almost definitely hear him getting at least one or two out in Season 7, with the possible added bonus that some of his scenes will show up uncensored on Blu-ray releases.
Now, I know that to some people, hearing the word “fuck” on TV looked down upon and offers nothing to the narrative. But the times, they are a-changing, and we’re likely headed to a future where the rarity is censored language. Fucking crazy, right?
The Magicians just has one episode left in Season 1, which will air on Monday, April 11. Thankfully for fans, the show was renewed for Season 2 earlier this year, and it’ll debut on Syfy in 2017.