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Worst TV Show of the Week

By Aubree Rankin

Aired Thursday November 18, 2004 at 9:00pm EST on CBS.

One hundred episodes is a big milestone for any series, especially in a television climate where shows are often cancelled after just four or five episodes. CBS's blockbuster hit C.S.I. hit the century mark last Thursday with the November 18 episode "Ch-ch-changes." Unfortunately, their milestone is nothing to celebrate. 100 episodes of C.S.I. means 100 hours of murder, graphic autopsies, flashbacks of stabbings, shootings, rapes, decapitations, and other violent crimes. It often includes other deviant material such as incest, cannibalism, wife swapping, voyeurism, and even snuff films. The 100th episode is no exception to the usual fare--"Ch-ch-changes" is the PTC's Worst of the Week, as C.S.I. delves into the murder of a transgendered person.

The show opened with the grotesque murder scene of Wendy Garner, a young woman who was found by the side of the road, throat slit. During the autopsy, it is revealed that Wendy was formerly a man named Walter and soon the crime scene investigators find themselves delving into the world of the Las Vegas transvestite and transgender community.

Soon the police detectives interview doctors, transgender people, and a counselor about the victim, trying to figure out who might have had motive to kill her. These conversations are peppered with graphic terminology for human genitals as well as some disturbing medical talk about the surgical procedures the patients undergo during gender reassignment.

About halfway through the episode, the police discover that Wendy was operated on during an illegal procedure conducted by a former military medic who is not even a licensed doctor. They learn this when they find a storage unit containing a very grim tableau--a dead body on a makeshift-operating table, surrounded by bloody medical instruments and bedding, dead from a botched sex change operation. They track down the counselor who it turns out has lived as both a man and a woman and uses his male identity as a doctor doing the illegal procedures and as a conventional married woman while counseling people with gender identity crises.

This episode of C.S.I. exploited and sensationalized the transgender lifestyle in an attempt to titillate viewers. The twisted and convoluted storyline that involved a male actor talking about giving fellatio to his transvestite "wife" who was played by a female actor was done simply to go somewhere a TV show hadn't before. There is no need for a young child to be exposed to these complex adult sexuality issues, and certainly no need for them to see the graphic images of a woman with a slit throat and a person dead in a dirty makeshift operating room. One hundred times out of one hundred C.S.I. takes things too far, and is never right for family viewing.

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