FX Raises the Bar for Basic Cable Cursing

They can't say that, can they?
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2016 4:25 PM CST
FX Raises the Bar for Basic Cable Cursing
"Cochran...martyr flubber." Sarah Paulson, center, portrays Marcia Clark in a scene from "The People v. O.J. Simpson" on FX.   (Ray Mickshaw/FX via AP)

Is it the end of decency as we know it or just good television? "Cochran … motherf---er," Sarah Paulson's Marcia Clark said during Tuesday's episode of American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. With the utterance of those two words, FX caused hordes of viewers—those who weren't too busy clutching their pearls, anyway—to take to social media, CBS News reports. "Did … did The People v OJ Simpson just break the basic cable 'motherf---er' barrier?" one viewer tweeted. We'll come back to that question.

First, yes, FX is allowed to say motherf---er. It can also show Game of Thrones-levels of violence and nudity, if it wants. That's because the FCC only regulates broadcast networks. According to Entertainment Weekly, the only thing keeping basic cable channels PG-13 is a desire to keep viewers, placate advertisers, and "stay on brand." As for whether or not FX just became a motherf---er pioneer—the Neil Armstrong of basic cable cursing, if you will—the short answer is no. Comedy Central has been known to air the word in stand-up specials, though only after 1am. However, it's entirely possible The People v. OJ Simpson was the first scripted show to use the word in primetime. It's a brave new world, TV viewers. (More cursing stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.