Analysis of Controversial Issues in Television Shows: 'The X-Files' and 'South Park'

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Television programs also called television shows, are part of the content for broadcasting on television. It may be a one-off production or part of a series that is repeated periodically. One program in a series is called an episode. A television series consisting of a limited number of episodes is usually called a mini-series or series. Series without fixed lengths are usually divided into new episodes on a season or series, annual or half-year basis. Television films are not theaters or direct-to-video releases but are first televised films, although many successful television films are later released on DVD. The programs can be recorded in video tape or other various electronic media forms or considered live television.

It has different types of program and non-program material broadcast on television and unique text features, topics, functions, audience, text reader relationships, and participation modes. Such genres provide interpretative reference frames that affect viewers' expectations in particular. They can be realistic genres, novels, or a mixture of these styles. The most widely known programs include TV news, TV documentaries or features / factual television, talk shows, children’s programs, talent hunt show, reality TV, religious programs, soap operas, TV drama, comedy, sports, and music TV. Many television genres were inherited from the radio.

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As long as there has been television for almost a long time, there has been controversy over various TV shows. Sometimes, the network's most popular series will broadcast particularly shocking episodes. At other times, the whole series will arouse anger over their premise. As time has gone on, anger over sex, violence, and other hot topics has changed according to cultural norms. But there are always a few topics to headline and so will the programs that deal with them. For more than a decade, viewers have been gripped by screen dramas offered by TV series and reality TV shows. But sometimes, the drama follows on-screen shows, and real-life arguments cause the show to be canceled.

Television programs that have controversial issues

“The X-Files” Season 4, Episode 2: “Home”

This television series is about FBI agents Mulder and Scully being called to a small, idyllic rural society where time seems to be at a standstill to investigate the discovery of the body of an extremely congenital deformed baby. Their investigation leads them to the family of inbred, who live in unimaginable depravity and turn murderous when modern manpower invades their squalid, incestuous existence.

The reason why the series was aired is that the first 'X-File' episode in history was aired with viewers' discretion messages at the top, and Glenn Morgan and James Wong's show comeback 'Home' was the only episode not to be re-run on Fox Home Network. Violence is usually cited as the reason for fatal beatings, decapitation, impaling, home childbirth sequences, and many shootings which really gruesome and bizarre way in which violence is portrayed. It is so upsetting and also quite brilliantly achieved. The mountaineer-style inbred family is part of the partial leather face, some Frankenstein's monster in conception, and episodes use ironic soundtrack counterpoint which is very effective which is a cover of Johnny Mathis’ 'Wonderful, Wonderful' that is covering the play against the brutal double murder. The bookending of the show with the live burial of a mutant baby and the discovery of its quadruple amputee mother loosely based on an anecdote related by Charlie Chaplin is pretty stomach-churning stuff even now.


From the broadcasters’ perspective, I want to propose taking out the violent scenes such as fata beatings, decapitation, impaling, and many shootings or changing to the scenes which are not violent at all so that the children can watch together with their parents in science fiction drama TV series. The reason why is that these kinds of violent scenes can encourage those youngsters to learn aggressive behavior and attitudes. It also can cultivate fearful or pessimistic attitudes in children about the non-television world and desensitize them to real-world and fantasy violence. Heavy exposure to violence is the cause of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in society. the evidence comes from both laboratory and real-life studies. Television violence affects not only youngsters but also all ages, both genders, all socio-economic levels, and all levels of intelligence. Therefore, broadcasters must be limited the violent scenes on the right track to increase the television ratings system so that children won’t turn negative with aggressive behavior and attitude. And they also need to offer suggestions for parental guidance and mediation of children’s viewing of TV programs.

“South Park” Season 14, Episodes 5 & 6: “200” / “201”

This television series is about children who find Tom Cruise working in a candy factory when they are on a field trip. Stan sparks a new Cruise vendetta by calling him a fudge packer because he is packing fudge. Cruise, who teamed up with numerous celebrities who were targeted by past 'South Parks,' including Paris Hilton, Barbara Streisand, and Rob Reiner, is marked by his threat to sue the town for oblivion unless he delivers the prophet Muhammad to them, as he believes he can steal the 'super ability' of a prophet which not-being-made-fun-of. Children visit the Super Best Friends lair, they get Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, etc. to agree to Muhammad’s participation under strict rules that may not be seen. But a group of militant gingers tired of ruthless persecution threatens to bomb South Park if the prophet is not released instead prompting the celebrities to release Godzilla-like Barbara Streisand to destroy the town.

The reason why this TV series was aired because in every conceivable way a double-down from the “Trapped in the Closet” show which had taken aim at Scientology and at Tom Cruise’s sexuality, the first half of this double episode aired unexpurgated, that is with mentions of the word “Muhammad” left intact. The resulting anger, including the death threat from the organized Revolution Muslim, led to “201” being censored and having every mention of his name, as well as Kyle’s final speech in its entirety bleeped. '200' has been removed from digital streaming, and '201' has not been delivered through that platform. But both can be found in home DVDs and Blu‐Ray releases. The problem is, this is actually a pretty good double play from the later 'South Park' season, taking oddly even-handed and extremely accurate potshots at the nonsense surrounding almost every organized religion that is a lesser-reported factoid which Sri Lanka banned the whole show due to scenes from “200” of Buddha snorting cocaine, as well as basically straight-up taunting Cruise as if double-daring him to sue or complain.


From the broadcaster’s perspective, I would cut out the lines that are sensitive to Muslim organization which is related to Muhammad in an adult animated sitcom. The reason why is that these two show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker decided to go all out and attempt to offend every social and religious group including Muslims. This television series episode immediately set off controversy around the globe with certain radical Muslim organizations threaten. Audiences feel mad when these series mention the part of a religion that is so sensitive. In conclusion, to avoid any conflict or violence about it, the broadcaster must step in and censor the episode by literally placing a black bar over Muhammad and cutting off his lines for the entirety of the plot. They also need to check whether they are providing the right and non-sensitive information which is related to any religion to viewers or listeners in adult animated sitcoms.


The television program production is packed with controversial issues that often take up the headlines in the mainstream media. Violence, sex, religion, culture clash, sexual language, and many more are the most common controversial topics that are prevalent in a wide range of TV series formats. Since this kind of controversial issue keeps happening, broadcasters need to set boundaries on the type of content that can be released in TV programs. And also, broadcasters must censor the content of programs for children who are under the age of 18 because they might feel offended by this content and it is detrimental to them physically and mentally. Next, broadcasters need to provide a voluntary rating on content such as “R for Graphic Violence” to allow customers to predict the level of controversies. Broadcasters need to cut out the lines that are sensitive to religion. They also must not put wrong cultural practices so that there wouldn’t be a cultural clash. Lastly, the broadcaster should change inappropriate scenes to appropriate ones. If these practices mentioned above keep remaining and doing, unethical issues won’t appear in TV programs anymore. As a result, the controversy of violence, sex, religion, culture clash, sexual language, and many more in TV series is likely to change in the near future.


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Analysis of Controversial Issues in Television Shows: ‘The X-Files’ and ‘South Park’. (2023, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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