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CBS pumps up the raunch factor

Last week seemed typical for CBS’ sitcoms on Monday night, television’s most popular — and raunchy — night of comedy.

Last week seemed typical for CBS’ sitcoms on Monday night, television’s most popular — and raunchy — night of comedy.

There was a strip club visit on How I Met Your Mother, lap dance included. The stars of 2 Broke Girls mistakenly believed an upstairs neighbour ran a brothel. Two and a Half Men included jokes about masturbation, oral sex, sex with moms, trading cigarettes for sex and two scenes with loud noises of passion from behind closed doors.

A quick count found 53 sex jokes on the network’s four comedies, which includes Mike & Molly. There were also nine jokes about flatulence or bowel movements, and two scenes where marijuana use was clearly implied — one with a teenage boy.

The subject matter leaves some viewers queasy, such as Amanda St. Amand, mother of two college students from St. Louis. She said the shows go past raunchy fun to just plain raunchy. She rarely watches them anymore.

CBS and producers of the comedies strongly defend their work and point to the shows’ success as evidence they’re doing something right. Two and a Half Men is TV’s favourite comedy, How I Met Your Mother has its best ratings ever in its seventh year and 2 Broke Girls is a breakout freshman hit.

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said the comedies are “a little risque,” but that the characters are living truthfully within their particular circumstances.

“The fact that there is such strong ratings growth for all of them means that those shows are resonating,” Tassler said. “It means that the characters are resonating. It means that their dialogue is really landing with audiences.”

2 Broke Girls opened its episode with the two lead characters trading four raunchy jokes with the leering cook in the diner where they work.

Show creator Michael Patrick King reacted strongly earlier this month when he was questioned at a meeting of the Television Critics Association about jokes in his show regarding anal sex.

“It’s 8:30 on Monday on CBS in 2012,” said King, former producer of Sex and the City for HBO. “It’s a very different world than 8:30 on Monday on CBS in 1994. ... I consider our jokes really classy dirty. I think they’re high lowbrow. I think they’re fun and sophisticated and naughty, and I think everybody likes a good naughty joke.”

In last Monday’s episode, which had four jokes about prostitution and four about herpes, Caroline and Max go to see the madam of a brothel and knock on the wrong door to be greeted by a man wearing a dog collar and leash.

One viewer, 36-year-old Allison Trembly of Denver, Colo., said she’s a fan of the Monday comedies. “I can relate to the humour,” said Trembly, who is single and an economic development and marketing specialist. “Sometimes I wonder if the audience gets some of it. But they must because the night is highly rated.”

 
 
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