A conservative watchdog group has singled out the angst-ridden wannabe filmmaker and his hormone-driven Dawson's Creek pals as the most offensive creatures prime-time TV has to offer.
It's the second year running that the WB youth drama has "topped" the worst list, as compiled by the Parents Television Council.
"The show features an almost obsessive focus on premarital sexual activity," the council said. "References to topics of pornography and condoms are commonplace..."
Dawson's Creek's groundbreaking gay-teen storyline is referenced by the group as giving "a thumbs up" to "teen self-identification."
If the watchdogs weren't happy with Dawson's Creek last season, then neither, by the way, was its creator--but for different reasons. Kevin Williamson tells the new Entertainment Weekly that the high-school drama got "too soapy." The show will return to a "first-season sensibility" in the fall, a WB executive notes--minus Williamson, who departs on account of too many other projects, including ABC's upcoming Wasteland.
Fellow WB series 7th Heaven, meanwhile, was knighted as the most family-friendly show on television, per the Parents Television Council. The WB drama about a minister and his wholesome brood was lauded for showing a loving parent who "offers wisdom and assistance to his family and flock..."
CBS had the most family-friendly shows (four) in the Top 10; NBC and Fox, the least (zero).
ABC, NBC and Fox broadcast the most offensive shows, according to the organization. Each landed three shows in the Top 10. CBS and the UPN had none.
The Parents Television Council, an offshoot of the Media Research Center (another watchdog group), said it based its picks on the usual suspects (bad langauge, sex and violence). It also took into consideration whether a show was aimed at children or teens. (Perhaps explaining why the butt-baring, but older-skewing NYPD Blue didn't make the "offensive" cut.)
Overall, the group said it found "far more bad programming to choose from than good" during the 1998-99 season.
Some of its non-Dawson's Creek targets:
Will & Grace (Most Offensive No. 3): A "disingenuously saccharine presentation of the homosexual lifestyle."
Ally McBeal (Most Offensive No. 4): "Sexually raunchy."
Friends (Most Offensive No. 7): Characters Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) "discussed ad nauseum their sex life: how they made love seven times during their first night, how their sex life is 'amazing,' and 'the best' and other erotic elements."
That 70s Show (Most Offensive No. 10): "Promiscuous sex (then known as 'free love'), dope smoking, beer drinking and other outré activities."
Here's a complete rundown of the so-called bad shows: 1. Dawson's Creek (WB); 2. Melrose Place (Fox); 3. Will & Grace (NBC); 4. Ally McBeal (Fox); 5. Spin City (ABC); 6. The Drew Carey Show (ABC); 7. Friends (NBC); 8. Millennium (Fox); 9. Suddenly Susan (NBC); 10. That 70s Show (Fox).
The so-called good shows stacked up this way: 1. 7th Heaven (WB); 2. Touched By an Angel (CBS); 3. Promised Land (CBS); 4. Early Edition (CBS); 5. Smart Guy (WB); 6. Cosby (CBS); 7. Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (ABC); 8. Moesha (UPN); 9. Sister Sister (WB); 10. Boy Meets World (ABC).
Among the family-friendly picks, three were canceled last spring: Promised Land, Smart Guy and Sister Sister. On the offensive list, only Melrose Place and Millennium failed to win renewal.