Why Does TV Suddenly Like Virgins?


With everything and anything sexual now shown even on ad-supported basic-cable TV — if you don’t believe me, look at this clip from FX’s upcoming “romantic comedy,” called “You’re the Worst” (be warned, it might endanger your immortal soul) — and knowing the way pendulums tend to swing in this fallen world, it just might be the time for virgin chic.

After all, when everybody’s doing it, the folks that aren’t doing it suddenly become special and even worthy of their own TV shows. But as with all things in entertainment, it’s not about the concept, it’s about the execution.

MTV’s new reality show “Virgin Territory” (click here for my story on it for Breitbart’s Big Hollywood), which premiered Wednesday, July 16, looks at virgin Millennials, both those who are holding off for marriage (some for religious reasons and some, not) and those who are holding off for other stars to align … or they just can’t figure out how to “swipe their v-card,” as MTV puts it.

As you might expect of the network that gave us “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom,” “Jersey Shore,” “Faking It” (in which teen girls pretend to be lesbians to be popular, and one might be, and the executive producer is a middle-aged gay man) and the upcoming “Happyland” (in which theme-part sweethearts might be half-brother and -sister, and the executive producers are more middle-aged gay men), MTV is feeling a little icky about the whole thing.

And by “whole thing,” I mean virginity, not teen pregnancy, promiscuity, high-school lesbianism or possible incest.

At a recent press conference as part of the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, MTV took a high-toned approach, with network president Susanne Daniels explaining the show’s partnership with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Unsurprisingly, the organization’s Website is a detailed and informational cheering section for various kinds of contraception (although abortion, the contraception of choice for some, is sidestepped).

But the group’s CEO, Sarah Brown, did reveal that staying a virgin after your teens is apparently not the absolutely unthinkable horror it once was, saying, “”In the survey we did, we found that well over 70 percent of young adults admire their peers who have chosen to wait. It’s not considered lame. It’s not considered deviant.”

Good to know.

It was almost as if MTV was seeking some sort of programming absolution for its many, many sins, exemplified when a 21-year-old gay male press-conference panelist for “Virgin Territory” admitted seeing a barely-blurred-out, soft-core-porn-style threesome on an episode of “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet,” when he was in fourth grade.

He said he thought it was “cool.”

As Dr. Keith Ablow asked in his July 19th FoxNews.com column on the show, “I would pose this question to MTV’s executives: Would you cast your own son or daughter in a series that eavesdrops on his or decision to have sex for the first time? Sadly, I fear that the answer might be that many of those executives would be okay brokering out their children, as long as there was notoriety and a paycheck in the bargain.

“And that’s profoundly sad — for them, for their children and ultimately, for the rest of our kids who could be contaminated by their moral failings.”

Meanwhile, The CW is coming at the notion from a different angle in its scripted comedy-drama, “Jane the Virgin,” premiering on Oct. 13. It’s based on a Venezuelan telenovela called “Juana la Virgen,” and it stars Gina Rodriguez (who is adorable, by the way) as a “religious” young Latina (yes, you can read “religious” as Catholic) who has vowed to remain a virgin until she marries her detective boyfriend (Brett Dier).

But on a routine gynecological visit, she is accidentally inseminated with sperm from a married cancer survivor (Justin Baldoni) who may not have another chance at fatherhood.

Rodriguez, who apparently turned down “Devious Maids” in pursuit of a less stereotypical role, told assembled TV critics, “It’s going to be really exciting to go on this journey with this girl that has a very serious thing happen to her, and see the way she chooses maybe not the popular choice in life, but the unpopular one, i.e. her virginity.

“I think that’s a really awesome thing to put out into the world right now, where we are bombarded by twerking — don’t get me wrong, I can twerk. But we’re bombarded by these images, and I see what they do to my niece and nephew, that are 4 years old; I see what they can do to my cousins that are 13.

“If I can use my art and what I love to do every day to change that perception, that’s awesome. That’s the blessing. That’s the money for me.”

It’s a safe assumption that Jane doesn’t have an abortion, because otherwise, there wouldn’t be much of a series.

But one TV critic, after admitting the show is “charming,” asked, “Why we will never see, or rarely see, on television, a show in which somebody makes a choice not to have an unplanned child?”

(I don’t know how rare this is; I’ve seen more than one show in which an unplanned pregnancy ended in an abortion. Click here for a rundown of how various TV shows have dealt with the issue.)

Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman replied, “That’s the premise of the show, of course. Her mom does say to her, ‘I want you to have a choice because then you feel good about what your decision is.’ I want to be respectful to everyone who has different — everybody’s got different beliefs. I hope you do see a wider range of all choices, personally.”

Then she admitted, “When you’re writing TV, you are constantly writing complications. If there’s no baby, the complication goes away, so maybe that’s part of the dramatic drive. I can only speak to this show and the premise.”

Even so, there’s a tiny sliver of hope that, despite its obvious play on the Virgin Birth, this show might actually be respectful to the moral choices that Catholics make. Or, it might not — it’s impossible to predict how a show will go from a pilot episode.

While I heartily encourage you to preview every minute of “Virgin Territory” before even thinking of letting young people in your charge watch it, “Jane the Virgin” could be a step in the right direction, one that Catholics need to keep an eye on — and respond vociferously to The CW if it goes in ways we don’t like.

Here’s a look at the trailer …

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

A native of the Adirondacks and Saratoga Springs in northern New York State, journalist and fiction writer Kate O'Hare now lives in Los Angeles, where she's on a neverending quest to find a parish in the L.A. Archdiocese with orthodox preaching, excellent traditional music and parking.

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