FX Sinks to Greater Depths With Show About Transsexuality

Next up from the creator of one of the filthiest shows on television: a series about transsexuals. 

Ryan Murphy, creator of Nip/Tuck, the FX network's ode to plastic surgery, graphic sex and depravity, has sold a new pilot to FX about “the metamorphosis of a married sportswriter with children who comes to the realization he is a transsexual.”

At least that's how the pilot was originally pitched.  Now, according to the TV column in The Washington Post, the conflicted main character is a gynecologist, not a sportswriter. (For those not paying close attention to the transsexual news of the day, LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner set the world on its ear in April by announcing he was undergoing a sex change operation and would, after a hiatus, be returning to her column as Christine Daniels.) 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the working title of the show is “4 Oz.,” though The Washington Post reports the title has been changed.  Murphy has reportedly said “4 Oz.” refers to the average weight of a penis, quipping “(it is) remarkably light given the amount of havoc it creates for men.”

Murphy is Hollywood's naughty golden boy.  On Bravo's Sex in the Box, Murphy said that he hopes Nip/Tuck would push TV standards even lower.  Murphy's ambition, believe it or not: “Hopefully I have made it possible for somebody on broadcast television to do a rear-entry scene in three years.  Maybe that will be my legacy.” 

The Hollywood Reporter also states that Murphy has signed a “rich multiyear deal with FX, 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting Co.” 

So why are these entertainment giants showering their money on the likes of Murphy?  Compare and contrast: Nip/Tuck has been on the air for four years.  Its average audience is 1.4 million people.  Disney's perfectly clean High School Musical 2 debuted with 17.2 million viewers on Friday, August 17, shattering basic cable records.  On Saturday, August 18, HSM2 was rebroadcast and pulled in 5 million viewers.  The third re-airing on Sunday, August 19, garnered 4.9 million viewers. 

Hollywood likes to tell us that they are giving us what we want.  But the proof is in the pilots, to adapt a phrase. And also in the production deals. There is very little on the upcoming fall TV schedule that looks anything like High School Musical 2.  But there are plenty of shows that belong in the same category as Murphy's new drama. 

So much for market demand.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.