On Thursday night’s O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly got all het up over a scene from the season finale of Parenthood. It was the moment in which Sarah Braverman’s teen son Drew had sex for the first time with his girlfriend Amy. O’Reilly convened a summit with his so-called Culture Warriors, Gretchen Carlson and Margaret Hoover, to bemoan what the segment called “The Coarsening of Our Culture.”
“What we are about to show you is very explicit,” warned O’Reilly, with a big “Viewer Warning” sign behind him. Then he played a few seconds, with no sound, from the Feb. 28 episode, showing Drew and Amy’s feet, their underwear tumbling to the floor; cut to their faces in dewy, Drew-y rapture, still in this standing face-to-face position. O’Reilly, Carlson, and Hoover then expressed dismay at a network show suggesting that these two 16-year-olds were about to have sex.
Hoover came with figures: “The percentage of kids in high school having sex: 47.8 percent,” she said, as of 2007. O’Reilly came with outrage: “They don’t show the consequences!” (He also admitted he did not watch Parenthood.) And Carlson came with news from the blogosphere: “The blogs,” she said, groping for a way to convey the outrage that was supposedly felt across the land, “a lot of people were stunned that they included this in the story line,” she said.
“So this doesn’t happen every week?” asked O’Reilly. “So the consequences were not shown?” Fresh from yet another segment about Sandra Fluke and the contraception controversy that Fox News has now decided is a plot to be traced “almost to the White House,” O’Reilly was straining to stir things up, but after Carlson – the only person on camera who seemed to have actually watched the episode – said that “the mother did ask why [Drew] was perspiring,” O’Reilly seemed to realize the whole segment was collapsing into silliness. He allowed as how he liked to watch TV Land, citing The Andy Griffith Show and Dobie Gillis as favorites, and went to a commercial.
As it happens, I’d agree with him about those two fine examples from sitcom history… except teenager Dobie Gillis was, as I recall, more on-the-make and eager to be promiscuous than anyone on Parenthood has ever been: Hey, Bill – why do you think they called the show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis?
I can’t decide whether this O’Reilly segment is the best thing to happen to the chances of Parenthood’s renewal (even though he was more than a week late regarding the broadcast, O’Reilly’s millions of viewers now know what Parenthood is), or a headache Parenthood doesn’t need.