- - Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sex script

“The more sexual partners a woman has had, the more likely it is that she is depressed. The last fact arises from the discussion of a touchy subject that [authors Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker] handle well: the emotional travails that sexual decisions can bring.

“Consensual sex, they observe, appears to be an arena of free choice, but in practice it doesn’t quite feel that way, especially for young women. A woman might experience pressure to sleep with her boyfriend — even if he does not apply any pressure — because she thinks four months is a long time for a man to wait. The mix of societal cues that gave her that idea creates a background noise that drowns out the question of her personal willingness.

“Meanwhile, the boyfriend may be conditioned by Internet porn to think that four minutes is too long to wait, but he may have learned in sex-ed that you never push. We have a conflict, then, among different sexual ‘scripts,’ to use a term Regnerus and Uecker often invoke; various sets of norms as to ‘what you’re supposed to do’ are clashing.”

Evan Hughes, writing on “The Meet Market,” on March 1 at the New Republic blog, the Book

Idol resurrection

“Once a program has entered its dotage, its producers generally find themselves in a no win/no way out situation, whereby if they change anything, they risk alienating the fans they still have, or worse, looking desperate. If they change nothing, their decline is preordained. Which is why very few shows risk any sort of serious change until the decline is too far along to be checked.

“For Fox’s ‘American Idol,’ however, the moment when it was more dangerous to hide in the foxhole than to charge the enemy fortress came at the end of last season. After four consecutive years of declining ratings … the unthinkable, seemingly final, blow came with the departure of ‘Idol’s iconic star — evil judge Simon Cowell.

“However, even as the ink on the obituaries was drying, plans were hatched to do the impossible to turn ‘American Idol’ around. Now, with the addition of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to the show, the producers have both restored order and even brought excitement to a judges’ panel that seemed reeling out of control after the ill-fated runs of Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi. And its ratings erosion has slowed. At the end of this year, if the current trend holds, ‘American Idol’ will break ‘All in the Family’s record of six years as the No. 1 show on television, officially becoming the most dominant show in TV history.”

Richard Rushfield, writing on “Four Reasons American Idol Is Back From the Dead,” on March 8 at the Daily Beast blog Sexy Beast

No Charlie

“Now that self-proclaimed ‘winner’ Charlie Sheen has been officially fired by Warner Bros. Television, producers have to decide what is to become of their hobbled hit show ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Worry not, all you Jon Cryer fans, insiders are telling me that every effort is going to be made to continue without Charlie. ‘Finding a replacement will not be easy, but you can bet they are going to try,’ one TV executive tells me. ‘It would be too difficult to replace Charlie’s character, which is why discussions are being had in which a friend or relative of the main character would arrive and Charlie leaves.’

“The track record of changing lead characters is a mixed one. Back in 2000, everyone assumed ‘Spin City’ would end after Michael J. Fox left the show, but producers decided to carry on with — ironically — Charlie Sheen as the new deputy mayor.

Ratings plummeted for the final two seasons, and it went from being the 33rd most watched show on TV to No. 78. A similar situation occurred when NBC carried on with ‘NewsRadio’ after Phil Hartman died in 1998. He was replaced with Jon Lovitz for season five, and although the show saw a slight bump in viewership, it was canceled.”

Rob Shuter, writing on “Sources: ‘Two and a Half Men’ Will Carry On Without Charlie Sheen,” on March 8 at Popeater

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