Krysten Ritter in Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

Krysten Ritter in Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

Courtesy of ABC
Kevin Can F**k Himself

Eric Petersen in Kevin Can F**k Himself

Jojo Whilden/AMC
William Shatner in S#*! My Dad Says

William Shatner in S#*! My Dad Says

Courtesy of CBS
Fill 1
Fill 1
November 16, 2022
In The Mix

Titles to Swear By

By necessity, producers say, show titles that play with profanity move into the mainstream.

Frank DeCaro

In 2010, William Shatner played an outspoken father on a short-lived sitcom inspired by an amused son's Twitter feed. The CBS comedy was called $#*! My Dad Says — a fictionalized version of Justin Halpern's more explicitly named social media account — and, as Shatner marveled upon the series' premiere, "You can't even say the title of the show on the air!"

Since then, TV titles have boldly gone where no TV titles have gone before. No shizzle!

In 2012, there was Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, an ABC sitcom starring Krysten Ritter as a New York City hipster with a snake's morals and a bumpkin (Dreama Walker) for a roommate. That same year, Leslie Bibb, Kristin Chenoweth, Miriam Shor and Annie Potts appeared in Good Christian Bitches, based on the novel of the same name. It became Good Christian Belles and finally just GCB before it made it on the air.

None of these network shows had the staying power of MTV's Jackass, Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! or Pop TV's Schitt's Creek — all long-running, provocatively titled cable series — but the profane TV title trend has grown even more explicit. And we're not talking That Damn Michael Che or Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?

Today, AMC has Emmy winner Annie Murphy starring as a fed-up wife in the dark comedy Kevin Can F**k Himself. Howie Mandel has moved on from hosting the mundanely titled Deal or No Deal to Netflix's new trivia competition, Bullsh*t the Game Show. And on HBO Max, the latest from Issa Rae (Insecure) is a series set in the Miami hip-hop scene called Rap Sh!t.

Meanwhile, E! has a new reality show called Raising a F***ing Star in the offing. Produced by World of Wonder — the Emmy-winning folks behind RuPaul's Drag Race and Million Dollar Listing — the new series reimagines the company's 2004 Bravo series Showbiz Moms & Dads, which was also about overly enthusiastic parents of child actors.

That G-rated moniker would face some racy competition today. "It's a crowded content world, and a buzzy title can help cut through the clutter," explains executive producer Randy Barbato.

Heck, even self-help beach reading — The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a New York Times bestseller — and Broadway shows (remember Chris Rock in The Motherf**ker with the Hat?) frequently use naughty words to get noticed. Is it any surprise you can guzzle a new drag queen-filled comedy feature called Sh*t & Champagne on any number of streaming platforms?

Let's just say it's not Cheers.

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #9, 2022, under the title, "No $#*!"

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