Thank you, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for making a joke of abstinence-only programs. The show returned from its mid-season break on Monday, with two storylines relevant to reproductive health. The first dealt with Matt (Matthew Perry) and Harriet (Sarah Paulson). Her devout Christian character enters a date auction to raise money for teen abstinence programs. She does this to get back in the good graces of a conservative women's organization (that disinvited her to a previous event because she wasn't anti-gay enough), though Harriet admits that she has no problem with premarital sex.
The funny parts come from Matt wanting to win the auction to be Harriet's date, but not wanting to give money to abstinence programs. He decides to counteract the auction by giving money to an opposite charity, which his assistant points out, "that would be a charity that encourages people to have sex." I was hoping he'd give money to an organization that promotes comprehensive sex ed… but there's less humor in that, I guess.
Another storyline was less funny and more disturbing. Danny (Bradley Whitford—a fellow Wesleyan alumnus whom I adore) is relentlessly pursuing Jordan (Amanda Peet). He calls her constantly, faxes her letters from friends and colleagues recommending she go out with him, and … yes, I'm going to just say it… acts like a stalker. When Jordan confronts Danny to tell him to stop (citing examples of what he did and how she said "no" each time), he refuses. What is even more disturbing (in addition to sending the message that it's ok for men to not accept that "no" means "no") is that I strongly suspect this is going to turn into a typical Hollywood storyline of "the man won't give up, pursuing the woman until she realizes his dedication to her and the strength of his love—so she finally gives him a chance and recognizes that it's him she really wants" or some b.s. like that. Honestly? Studio 60 can do better.
The writers of Studio 60 have a ways to go in promoting reproductive health and respecting women. This show has great potential; I hope its consideration of the effect entertainment has on reality improves—in addition to just making us laugh.