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TV Series Review

MTV is billing The Osbournes as the first-ever "reality-sitcom." But this series is neither real nor funny. Heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne shuffles around his new Beverly Hills mansion in slippers and sweats, whining about his life and grousing at his kids. The series is unscripted but Ozzy’s family spend lots of time playing to the camera. Imagine The Simpsons locked in the Big Brother house. The result is unwatchable, though Osbournes’ audience has topped 8 million (many of whom are teens) and turned into one of MTV’s most successful series.

Vulgar language makes up the lion’s share of the show’s unbearably offensive content. Swamped with scatological and anatomical crudities, episodes barrage fans with f-words—at the rate of about three a minute. Granted, the majority of the expletives are bleeped, but whoever controls the buzzer deserves an "F" for effort.

Sexual content intrudes by way of lewd conversations and nudity. Sharon (Ozzy’s wife) mimics a sexual position with a stuffed animal. Daughter Kelly (who turns 17 in the third episode) argues with her dad about a visit to the gynecologist, using the most inflammatory terms possible. Ozzy jokes about erections and Viagra. He signs a fan’s bare breast (the cameras swoop in for a close-up), and he’s unfazed by the idea that his 15-year-old son, Jack, might be locked away in his bedroom with a girl.

Philosophically, The Osbournes reeks of dysfunction, negligence and immorality. Ozzy and Sharon verbally abuse their kids. The kids cuss right back. When Mom tells Jack to get rid of his dog because it is relieving itself all over the house (the animal is shown in the act), Jack shoots right back that he’d rather get rid of her.

"People who don’t swear will go, ‘These people are [expletive] heathen,’" Ozzy told Newsweek. "We could have gone, ‘Good morning, daaaaling. How was your day?’ That would have been like [expletive]. With our family, you take the good with the bad." Sharon agrees, adding, "Through all the craziness, you see that there’s a family that loves each other and are really close."

What I see are full-color illustrations—with circles and arrows—of how not to run a family. If that had been The Osbournes’ intent, maybe it would have at least shamed a few derelict households into getting their acts together. But it wasn’t. All we’re left with is The Beverly Hillbillies on acid.

Episodes Reviewed: March 5, 12, 19, 26, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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