B-word In Show Titles

April 12, 2012 by staff 

B-word In Show Titles, No one could imagine seeing the N-word in the title of a network TV show, but the B-word is OK with ABC. The network uses the letter B as an abbreviation for “btch” in the title of its new sitcom “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23,” which premieres Wednesday. ABC also insists the B in the new prime-time soap “GCB” — based on the book “Good Christian B***h*s” — actually stands for “belles.” Both shows are about women and aimed at female audiences.

Both may have started out with the complete B-word in their titles, but the network abbreviated it before introducing the shows to advertisers.

Paul Lee, president of the ABC Entertainment Group, said in January that “on broadcast television, as it turns out, that isn’t a word you want to use in the title.”

Broadcast standards allow the word on TV, and its use has tripled in the last decade, but these are the first American shows to tease with B’s in their titles.

Is it just coincidence? A hip reclaiming of the word? A blatant attention grab? Or could it reflect something more telling, given the current climate of political rhetoric challenging reproductive rights: a linguistic representation of backsliding efforts toward gender equality?

No ABC executives were available to answer these questions, but experts in media, language and women’s issues say yes to almost all of the above.

“Obviously, they’re using it to be polarizing and controversial and attention-getting. Why else would you use that word?” asks Erin M. Fuller, president of the Alliance for Women in Media. “I don’t think we’re in a time where that word is a celebration of women.”

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