Posted by: mbtrotter | September 28, 2010

Seth MacFarlane really understands TV news.

If you were ever in doubt of Seth MacFarlane’s ability to hyperbolically yet accurately capture elements of American culture within Family Guy, then this season’s premiere should put an end to that. In just over three minutes of the hour-long episode, his team nailed several aspects of TV news culture that tend to disturb people.

Spoiler alert: This video gives away the key plot point to the episode. But you should probably watch it anyway. It’s educational. And you’ll see the episode a million times anyway. Might as well take the edge off now.

That’s a lot of off-putting bases covered in a short time.

Journalist-celebrity relationships are scandals

Diane Simmons felt she had to keep her relationship with James Woods a secret to avoid media scrutiny. For a real-life example, look to the Los Angeles market. Twice. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had an affair with a 35-year-old Telemundo journalist in 2007. Two years later, a former Miss USA at KTLA was seen canoodling with the mayor. As anchors, the women read news stories about Villaraigosa’s separation from his wife (wonder why) and the likelihood of a gubernatorial run in 2010.

And how did anyone find out? Scrutiny from other media outlets.

Female journalists get too old for TV

People notice the distinct lack of gray-haired females on TV. It’s because women age out of prominent TV roles. Don’t believe it from the absence of grandmotherly women giving you the news? A 44-year-old female journalist sued CNN (and Turner Broadcasting System and Time Warner) after she wasn’t offered a contract renewal in 2003 or given any freelance assignments. She lost, but hers hasn’t been the only lawsuit.

At 40, Diane is probably right that her time on the air is just about over.

Pretty, young female journalists only need the first three-fourths of that equation

TV stations can’t just bring in anybody to be a reporter, not matter how good-looking they are. Right? Then maybe you didn’t hear about the Dallas CW affiliate that hired the 22-year-old sister of a Gossip Girl star to be its high school sports reporter. Did I mention she was Miss Missouri? To break that down:

  • KDAF 33 is in a top-10 market and could hire an experienced journalist, even for high school sports.
  • The station hired a 22-year-old beauty queen who may not have had time to bust her butt through journalism school.
  • She just happens to be the sister of the star of a popular show that airs on that network.

If that didn’t convince you, take a look at TV reporter Barbie. Now look at Miss Missouri. Back at Barbie. They’re not very different.

It’s safe to say MacFarlane is three-for-three in his assessment of how female TV journalists are treated.

Interns will do anything

But that’s nearly universal.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of 20th Century Fox Television and was purchased by the author for not-for-profit use.



  1. I have not seen this family guy yet…but do not mind the spoiler alert. I also like the way I could access the other articles. Thank you!
    As a 45 year old woman I understand the age “thing” and the “male” thing. I work in a predominate female field (nursing) yet most CEO of hospitals are men (around my age) with little to no clinical knowledge (I have 18 years of clinical experience/knowledge and a MBA).
    It is difficult for femal nurses to acheive the role of CEO yet this is never mentioned inside the walls of the hospital. Female leaders in hospitals achieve the role of CNO (chief nursing officer) before they will, if ever, become a CEO.

    As an woman I never intended to become older, grey and “fluffy” but years of child rearing, working, schooling, housework and gentics have taken its toll. Love my life, but I work really hard to make a living, keep a home and raise children while developing a healthy relationship with Mike (my partner). Leaving me little time/money to for fitness or fashion.

    I can’t imagine how it must be for my sisters that are in the spotlight. I do h ave to say a thank you to Betty White for making old age seem so cool!!!

  2. The young, female stereotype is sad but true more often than it should be.

    In a very small market, I know a woman who was exercising at Shapes next to a TV news director. Director said “You’d be good on TV,” and she had a job a week later.

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