An Open Letter to HBO

Dear HBO,
You may not know me, but I certainly know you. Sure, my parents never wanted to spring for HBO when I was a kid, but what I didn’t watch on the air, I made up for by buying it on DVD. I mean, I’ve been through it all from the beginning of Six Feet Under to the amazingly idiotic cancellations of shows such as Carnivale, Rome, and Mr. Show.

Still, that’s not what this is about. In fact, I said pretty much all of that to butter you up. See, we have to talk. Don’t get me wrong, I get it, you’re HBO, but seriously guys? I think it should be stated for the record that I’m no prude and certainly no stranger to foul language. In fact, foul language is quite possibly my favorite kind of language. But the thing is, there’s a time and a place. I know you wan to get your money’s worth for being a premium channel, but throwing around “fuck” and “shit” just because the FCC isn’t going to fine you is, well, frankly, it’s a shitty reason to use the word “shitty.” See what I did there? Yeah, I know, I’m clever.

But I can’t be clear enough, this isn’t coming to you as a letter from a concerned parent. Hell, this isn’t even coming from someone who’s that concerned. I just thought you should know, it’s not as cutting edge as you think. I know, I know, you aren’t TV, you’re HBO, but you have to recognize the clout that that carries. In fact, it seems like folks over at HBO are a little too proud of the clout that it carries and less concerned about their programming.

See, I don’t care about the station that I’m watching. I watch for the characters and the actors and actresses portraying them. I don’t watch because I’m secretly hoping for a flash of a tit or maybe some ass action. This constant sex and swearing? It works for characters like Samantha from “Sex and the City” but you should know, not every character of every HBO show is Samantha.

To better illustrate my point, let me give you an example. I finally broke down and decided to give “True Blood” a try. Gap-toothed Anna Paquin aside, I’d heard good things, but I’d been warned that it was fairly “explicit” if you will. “Vampire porn” was the term used by some. Still, I knew that going into it. What I didn’t know was that the opening scene is literally a chick giving a guy a handjob while she drives. Not only is that incredibly unsafe, I mean, eyes on the road lady, but her reasoning? She was bored. Who gets bored and gives handjobs? Seriously, does anybody? Because the folks I know don’t just give out handjobs to every 100th customer or whatever. I couldn’t stop laughing so I paused the show for the night and I’m sure I’ll try again later.

But HBO, that’s not quality programming. It’s not even smut. It’s just lazy “we can do it because we’re HBO” style writing. I know it’s hard to not let it get to your head, but focus on the writing and the characters. I’ve heard promising things about “The Pacific” so your folks may already be back on track, but just for the record? Don’t delude yourself, you’re still TV.
Calhoun Kersten


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