Here’s a bit of insight into the hearts and minds of some BBC network executives, which are typical of network executives ’round the globe.
In the early ’80’s, a show called The Young Ones debuted on the BBC, and later hit the state via MTV. For those of you who don’t know, it was a wacky alternative comedy about four gross, immature, boys sharing a flat. Long before Marge Simpson turned Itchy & Scratchy into polite lemonade buddies, The Young Ones did a metafiction episode that asked why their show couldn’t be nice and sweet like some of the other fine British sitcoms. Like Fawlty Towers before them, they broke one of the stone-carved rules of sitcoms: thou shalt have at least one likeable character. They didn’t. And it worked. We disliked every one of them, and loved them all.
Summary complete, here’s the insight into the network executives and how they think. There was an episode in which one of the guys ended up playing with a tampon, having no idea what it was. Producer Paul Jackson and writer Lise Mayer (yes, a woman co-wrote a show about four totally icky boys) submitted it to the network, fearing they’d be told to cut the gag because it was too controversial.
Nope, that gag was fine by the BBC. They felt the audience would get the context and the humor, so that was okay. But, the BBC rep said, “You have to take out the part where Vyvyan fucks the floor.”
Jackson and Mayer had no idea what the BBC was on about. They racked their brains to figure out what the BBC were even talking about. Finally, they realized there was a bit in the same scene where Vyvyan was doing pushups to impress some girls. In order to do loads of them very quickly, he wasn’t doing them properly – he was sort of rolling his whole body back and forth, so there was some hip motion.
This, evidently, looked sexual to the BBC.
So if you ever find yourself wondering why network TV seems so obsessed with sex and the proper heterosexual having of, and so concerned when buddy teams have chemistry, and so worried about women appearing like faint, unchallenging little sweethearts, just remember: network executives have a twisted, perverted view of the world. They sit in small dark rooms, wanking off to the steamy hot subtext of Leave it to Beaver that only they can see.*
And then they make sure their demographic info says we’re obsessed with sex. Uh-huh.
Vyvyan’s push-ups stayed in, ultimately.
* (Note: I really was taught in film/TV classes that there was some sort of subversive subtext toLeave it to Beaver, starting with the name “Beaver”. That is not a joke. I can’t remember what the rest of it was, because just hearing about it was kind of traumatic. I mean, I have a filthy mind, and these guys put me in the shade.)