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Ed Martin

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Crude (and Lazy) Humor on the Rise in Broadcast Sitcoms

Posted: 11/08/11 04:37 PM ET

With the success in recent years of such consistently smart situation comedies as ABC's Modern Family and The Middle, CBS' The Big Bang Theory and NBC's The Office and Community, I started to think that broadcast sitcoms might finally be getting beyond the frat humor and all-around crudeness that seeped into the genre in the Nineties and all but overtook it during the last decade.

But the early weeks of the 2011-12 television season have me thinking otherwise. Naughtiness is everywhere, especially in the form of talk about naughty bits. It's particularly potent in some of the season's best new sitcoms. I'm all for more grown-up entertainment, especially in a medium that no longer cares if kids are watching, but to call what's happening this fall an uptick is to understate the obvious.

Consider CBS' 2 Broke Girls, the new season's most cheerfully charming offender, but also one of its finest freshman offerings. Girls stars delightful newcomers Kat Dennings as Max, a tough-talking Brooklyn waitress, and Beth Behrs as Caroline, a Manhattan debutante now working and living with Max after her family loses its fortune.

It was clear in the pilot which way this show was going to go when Max looked at a wet mess on the uniform of an over-sexed waitress and said she hoped it was "clam chowder." Since then, the dialogue has become increasingly salty and noticeably genital dependent. In fact, a recent episode must have set a record for the most mentions of the word "vagina" in a network half-hour. It began when Caroline adorned her new bed with pink bedding and Max declared, "You've turned your bed into a vagina!"

Eyeing the pink drapes at the head of the bed, Caroline asked, "Do you think my vagina has curtains?"

"I don't know how long it's been," Max replied, referring to the state of Caroline's sex life.

From that moment forward, Caroline's bed was repeatedly referred to as her "vagina."

An earlier episode virtually bombarded viewers with talk of penises, vaginas and testes.

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