September 08, 2021
Once seemingly a fast track to cancellation, TV shows are again dancing around the censors with almost-curse words in their titles. But do they still make viewers go WTF?
From Schitt’s Creek to Kevin Can F**k Himself: the perils of swearing in your TV show title
When Eugene and Dan Levy were first pitching their idea for a comedy about a wealthy family who go broke, there was one major stumbling block: the name. When several channels asked them to change the title from Schitt’s Creek to something less vulgar, the Levys doubled down. They pulled out pages from a phone directory to prove that there were actual people with the sweary surname. “If CBC was doing a news broadcast with the name Schitt, would you not use it?”, Eugene Levy told the Toronto Star. “They said: ‘Yes, we would air the name.’” After throwing it at the network’s wall, they finally got Schitt to stick.
But when it aired in 2015, the series was not without its issues. NPR had to spell out the word when talking about it; some channels, such as CBS, had to flash up what’s known as “the lower third” – subtitles literally spelling it out – every time they mentioned it on air. Some TV and radio stations were reduced to simply calling it “Creek”, presumably confusing both Dawson’s Creek and Jonathan Creek fans in the process.
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