Controversy, New and Old

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Controversy has been a part of television since its creation. Prime examples of racism and sexism were often found in older shows such as “All in the Family” and “I Love Lucy.” In 2017, sexual assault, drug use and suicide are seen more prominently in modern television series. Not all controversy is negative though, as it often draws attention to social injustices or problems.



Based on the British series of the same name, “Shameless” focuses on the malfunctional Gallagher family, who live in Chicago with their alcoholic father as head of the group.

The Showtime dramedy has won several awards, including two PRISM awards back in 2012 and two Screen Actor Guild Awards in 2015 and 2017. However, the show has had some bad reception in certain areas.

According to an article by Hollywood.com, “Nothing seems to be off-limits. Incest, kids using drugs, and statutory rape are all fodder for jokes.” Based on that quote alone, the show earns a deplorable reputation. It seems that “Shameless” prides itself on shock-value comedy, but is there and should there be a line drawn at some point?

One of the more controversial episodes was aired recently, featuring a scene in which 14-year- old Debbie took advantage of her unconscious boyfriend without realizing that what she had done qualified as rape. Why this is considered controversial is fairly obvious, but the truth and lesson of it remains still.

Despite the arguments surrounding the show, there are still reasons as to why you should binge it. One is simply because of the characters, their paths and struggles. The thing about “Shameless” is that it gives its people voices and a certain depth, the actors themselves bring humanity to their respected roles. Another reason to watch is because of the show’s mental illness awareness, seen mainly through character Ian and his mother Monica. It raises the curtain on mental illness as a whole, giving understanding to those who hadn’t previously known about it.


“Game of Thrones”

Based on the bestselling books by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. The series depicts seven powerful families, each playing a deadly game to control the Iron Throne and all seven kingdoms. Recently, however, the more dire concern has been the imposing threat of winter from The North, something that could destroy the entire realm.

The HBO show has been a smashing sensation in the pop culture world, winning so many awards and recognitions. Just a sliver of its success includes two Critics’ Choice Television Awards for Best Drama Series in 2013 and 2016, as well as three Hugo awards for Best Dramatic Representation in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Despite its prosperity, “Games of Thrones” has been on the receiving end of controversy. The show has been criticized for the amount of female nudity, violence and sexual violence it depicts and for the manner in which it depicts these themes. Many think that it’s just too much to take in.

Nevertheless, there are a plethora of reasons to watch this show. For one, the villains are the absolute worst and you can’t help but love hating them. In addition, the show has amazing creatures (dragons, direwolves, etc.) and breathtaking scenery. The cast that the show has assembled is equally as excellent, bringing life to each character. Likewise, there is a sense of a love-hate relationship based on the number of characters the show has killed off.

George R. R. Martin did respond to some of the controversy, in an article by the New York Times, where he said that he feels, “obliged to be truthful about history and human nature, and that rape and sexual violence are common in war; and that omitting them from the narrative would have rung false and undermined one of his novels’ themes, its historical realism.”


“13 Reasons Why”

Based on the bestselling novel by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” centers around the suicide of high school student Hannah Baker. About a week after her death, Hannah’s close friend Clay is surprised when he receives a package on his doorstep. Upon opening it, Clay finds cassette tapes and after listening to one, he discovers something even more shocking. Each tape is Hannah speaking, telling the listener the reasons why she’s dead.

The reason why this show is so controversial is fairly simple. Not only because it deals with suicide, but because it approaches the subject of rape as well. Many feel that this show is too much and could be potentially triggering to some viewers. The show does have warnings at the beginning of a few episodes that their content may be disturbing to those watching.

However, there are still arguments in favor of the Netflix series. Some feel that the show is very truthful in regards to what bullying, rape and suicide really look like. Others interpret it as a means to educate and a platform for people to step forward if they need help.

In response to the controversy, Selena Gomez, one of the executive producers on 13 Reasons Why, defended the series. “We stayed very true to the book and that’s initially what [author] Jay Asher created was a beautifully tragic, complicated yet suspenseful story and I think that’s what we wanted to do,” Gomez told Associated Press. “We wanted to do it justice and, yeah, [the backlash is] gonna come no matter what. It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but I’m very fortunate with how it’s doing.”

In the end, it’s ultimately up to the viewer to interpret the message of the show and come to their own decision on what Hannah Baker’s suicide really means to teenagers today.



First airing in 2014, “Power” fixates on James St. Patrick, also called “Ghost,” who owns the popular New York City nightclub, “Truth.” In addition to his buisness, Ghost is a leading player in one of New York’s largest illegal drug networks. The show’s four seasons chronicle his struggle to balance his two worlds until he has to make a final, difficult choice.

The Starz drama produced by 50 Cent has been nominated for a few awards, winning a Vision Award for Best Performance (drama) by Omari Hardwick (James St. Patrick) in 2016.

Currently the main controversy surrounding “Power” is a major violation of “television etiquette.” Not to go into too much detail, a few times in the show there is graphic nudity that could probably have been avoided. Also there appears to be no censorship when it comes to explicit language. However, on a premium channel like Starz, the show can afford to be a bit edgy in what it presents.

Despite that debate, there are still plenty of reasons to watch this drama. One is that the show is the main competition of the popular series, “Empire.” So it will be interesting to see who comes out on top of that rivalry. Another is that the number of episodes has increased, which means that the creators are building upon the plot even more. In the first season, there were only eight installments; now it has been moved up to ten for the past three seasons.

Chris Albrecht, the former HBO boss who took over as CEO of Starz in 2010, said in an interview by Indie Writer, “Power is a real success story, and no one would have bet on it, and the attention from the press [isn’t quite there],” he said. “It’s not a big franchise, it’s not pretentious, and in the minds of a lot of people who write it’s not cool. But in the minds of the fans, it’s one of their favorite shows on television.”