Battles between show runners and network Standards & Practices (i.e. Censors – despite what their business cards say) are common. Personally, I never had a major run-in with them. They have been annoying and at times infuriating, but that’s just part of the process. Most of the time you can work things out. They tend to be reasonable.
But we had
an incident in the mid 80s when we were doing MARY (the Mary Tyler
Moore comeback vehicle) that at least gave us a chance to get back at
them… in some small, admittedly immature, but mirth provoking way.
S&P person was a middle-aged spinster. Picture: Aunt Bea from THE
ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. In one episode we had Mary innocently say “yin yang” in a speech. "Aunt Bea" called and said we’d have to lose that. Why? She said it was a euphemism for penis. Well first off, I had never heard it used in that context and secondly, we weren’t using it in a suggestive manner. “Yin yang”
is the Chinese symbol for opposites. Plus, Mary Tyler Moore was saying
it. We were not going to have America's sweetheart do a dick joke.
Still Aunt Bea was adamant. She had a list of euphemisms for penis and none of those words were allowed.
She had a list? An actual list?
got an idea. I said to her it would be very helpful to hear the list
so we’d know in the future what words to avoid. Would she please read
them aloud to me?
I then put her on speaker phone so the entire
writing staff could hear as Aunt Bea went down the list. Just imagine
your dear sweet grandmother saying, “willy. wang, dong, baloney pony, Captain Winkie”.
We were dying.
was clearly uncomfortable too. But when she finished I asked if there
was a list for breasts. As a matter-of-fact there was. I had her
recite that list to the gang. “Hooters, kazonkas, sweater meat”.
reeeeally wanted to hang up after that list. But there was yet another
list we really needed to hear. “What about vagina?” I asked.
She took a deep breath. And then from “cha-cha” to “hoo-hoo” with every “man in the boat”
in between, she rattled off the terms. Dropping the “C-bomb” and a few
that were so ugly that I could only picture Andrew Dice Clay saying them.
I thanked her, she hung up, and we howled for twenty minutes.
got very few S&P notes after that. And to be fair, we always tried
to take the high road on that show anyway. We weren’t looking to slip
in dick jokes. .
Here’s how far television has come: For a full list of those CBS euphemisms for “penis” watch any three episodes of TWO AND A HALF MEN. And for "vagina" watch any ten minutes of any episode of TWO BROKE GIRLS.