Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Yes, Apple is basically banning sex and violence from its streaming service—just like it said it would

HBO, this is not.
Screenshot: YouTube

A new article in The Wall Street Journal is outlining’s Apple’s plan for its fancy new streaming service, and everyone is making fun of the tech giant as a result. It sounds moralizing, paternalistic, and as watered down and neutered as TV can be—even compared to CBS. What it’s not, however, is surprising.

In a piece titled, “No Sex Please, We’re Apple: iPhone Giant Seeks TV Success on Its Own Terms” (behind a subscription wall, sorry), readers are treated to a series of delightfully absurd vignettes featuring Apple CEO Tim Cook and his Hollywood-monitoring executives going way, way overboard by attempting to sanitize every last bit of content that could possibly find its way onto the new Apple streaming service they’ve been ramping up for the past several years. It kicks off with Cook vetoing the Dr. Dre-inspired drama Vital Signs, with its drugs, orgy scene, and brandished handguns (“too violent,” the CEO frets) and only gets sillier from there.


Yes, guns, which were okay for your grandfather’s favorite Western series Gunsmoke, are apparently not so okay for Apple. Other incidents of corporate meddling in the company’s creative acquisitions include replacing the showrunner of its Jennifer Aniston- and Reece Witherspoon-starring comedy series and forcing the show to tone down some of its racier comedy (as well as making it “more upbeat”); replacing the showrunner for its revival of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories after finding the planned version “a little dark”; and, best of all, asking M. Night Shyamalan’s team to remove the crucifixes hanging in the home of a couple on his mysterious new show, presumably because they didn’t want to acknowledge, you know, the existence of religion.

If that all sounds little embarrassing corporate overreach, it probably is. But for all the deserved public mockery (Apple’s own L.A. employees are apparently calling it “expensive NBC,” which is just a good burn), this shouldn’t shock anyone. The company has been very open about the plan to make safe, blandly inoffensive content that would be suitable to play in the display window of an Apple store, just as was reported a full year ago. It’s already been cutting swears from episodes of Carpool Karaoke; don’t be surprised when the streaming service debuts sometime next year with what looks like 12 slightly different variations on This Is Us. Though it might be a little longer than first reported—the constant need to get approval from Cook et. al for any interesting programming reportedly might delay the planned March 2019 launch time.

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About the author

Alex McLevy

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.