The fall premieres have begun on prime-time TV, and just when you thought we couldn't sink lower into the cesspool, there are new "milestones" for the liberal cultural commissars to honor. The Daily Beast reported with great pride that the Amazon show "Transparent" will have TV's first transgender full-frontal nude shot, during a massage scene: "When he tweaks her back, she rolls over, exposing her breasts and, for the first time for a transgender actress on television, her penis."
The liberals who despise being called "fake news" so casually describe it as "her penis."
They're also cheering NBC's reboot of the LGBT "ally" comedy "Will & Grace," with new insults about Republicans for their gay friends, like Newt Gingrich is a "man, but he's aged into a lesbian."
What the elite television critics will not endorse are three new shows with military themes, offering what Time magazine calls a "calorie-free take on American patriotism." They are "SEAL Team" on CBS, "The Brave" on NBC and "Valor" on The CW. Cynics can suggest these shows are aimed at President Trump supporters, but no one can say Hollywood thought Hillary Clinton would be hiking in the woods at this point when they developed these programs.
The producers may have trouble selling these shows abroad, The Hollywood Reporter suggested, quoting an executive for a Swedish TV network: "These shows are all really well-made and the production values are great, but some of it is pretty jingoistic: lots of breast-beating and flag-flying."
Time TV critic Daniel D'Addario declared, "War provides an innately compelling hook for these shows, but there's something unpleasant and hectoring about how bluntly incurious they are about what it all might mean." He's using a term — "bluntly incurious" — that served as their working definition of George W. Bush.
It's apparently too trite, too predictable to portray soldiers as hardworking people, and that terrorism is bad. The Time critic lectured how "true patriotism means wanting one's homeland to be the best it can, not just repeating three times a week that it already is."
In other words, the storyline's mission should be to find flaws in America.
D'Addario recoils at the tough talk. On NBC's show, the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency lectures: "We are fighting people that want to wipe us off the planet. That means we have to be as ruthless as they are." Later, another character declares: "I'm not saying I'm gonna enjoy killing these guys, but you kidnap a woman, you get what you deserve."
So what's wrong with that? Apparently, when bad guys kidnap Americans, you should fix it with hugs and affirmations. "These shows seem to be trying to provoke a vengeful growl from the audience," Time's TV critic complained. "'Homeland,' in its lesser moments, had similarly nasty paranoid outlines. But that show has been more adept at moral ambiguity."
By "moral ambiguity," he surely means turning the "nasty paranoid outlines" back on the U.S. government, the "national security state." That's what "Homeland" did, and that's what satisfies the left. Or take the ABC series "Quantico," which ended its season in May by exposing a Trumpesque president taking orders on merging the FBI and the CIA from ... Russia.
Maybe these military shows will find an audience, and maybe they won't. But critics have underlined they'd rather watch "milestones" of transgender nudity than a show that might glamorize and humanize Navy SEALs.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.