I’ve gone back to school and I’m writing again. This combination leads me to want to watch very guilty pleasure Reality TV. Yes, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and hell even Fresh Off The Boat are pieces of art, but sometimes you just want some nachos instead of a healthy Salmon Summer Salad. And I must say Neighbors With Benefits was the best damn guilty pleasure reality show maybe of all time. I won’t lie, my girlfriend and I loved to watch The Bachelor, but it couldn’t compete with Neighbors With Benefits.

The ratings didn’t reflect this and the critics do not feel the same, but it had the making of a great reality TV show. The thing that made the show was not the swinging; it was the head swinger couple vs. the Christian Couple. That was some good vs. evil shit. That is where great drama lives! To see them fight for their lifestyle and belief system was addictive to me. The first episode established a great arch. It was like Swinging meets HBO’s Carnivale (I’m not a total philistine, I enjoy great art). Yet A&E just said fuck it. But why?

The ratings weren’t that bad and A&E didn’t really promote much. I think that is where the conflict started (they were afraid of Daddy Disney would think). A&E’s brand started with quality television but I think after making Duck Dynasty and Chris Angel they just said fuck that. The only way for TV Station to survive is a quality drama (AMC knows this and A&E followed with making the terrific show Bates Motel) and guilty pleasure Reality TV. This season A&E thought we need more marriage shows and that can be their thing, and they were right. While Married At First Sight is seeing marriage as lab experiment, to many pro-traditional-family-Disney-loving-people Neighbors With Benefits thought they went too far.

It wasn’t A&E’s pride that cancelled the show, they need numbers to survive the changes in TV watching. It was Disney who saw this as a Trojan Horse in one of their child channels that needed to be put down. While I don’t care much pro-traditional family values, I see them as being consistent with their traditional marriage outrage to this show. It made swinging look fun. My girlfriend and I who are in a committed related were like “shit, that could be cool when we get older.”

While it featured a nice Christian married couple, the swinging couple was much more appealing than the Christian one. I’d hang with the swinging couple, they looked pretty fun. I think this dynamic and lack of shame struck a lot social conservatives as something dangerous against traditional marriage. Social Conservatives have an outlook that we are all sinful. Marriage keeps people from embracing their desires that can be destructive. Their outlook is to follow the Good Book or we will have Hell on Earth and then go their when we die. They were not going to let a show like this stay on the air.

This put A&E and Disney in a lose-lose situation. If the show got popular there would just be more protests. If the ratings didn’t improve they still would get a bunch of protests. Poppa Disney told A&E: Stop this before the backlash come our way.

This is a shame that risk-taking is going to stay this way in non-Premium Cable and Streaming Services. Though those are getting bigger each year, and will take less risks because they will have more to lose. That is why new channels, artists, or streaming shows will make more interesting shows. They have less to lose. Controversy is good, the worst thing is to be unwatched or invisible in this era. There is still 7 episodes left for Neighbors With Benefits and they might not ever see any screen. I doubt they will. They will be locked up.

It says a lot about art. Even ‘bad art’ can be dangerous. Pornography challenged religious view points, but it was fantasy. It was not shown on mainstream television. Yet, here was a TV show more dangerous than porn because it was real, and maybe some of those Christians started to wonder if swinging wasn’t that bad of sin. Yet, those teachings came up and they were reminded of Eve and TV was the new serpent.

Adam and Eve didn’t cut down the Tree, but social conservatives of today make sure they cut it down before the fruits get to tempting.

Christoph Paul is an author of books of humor, non-fiction, poetry, satire, and fiction.

6 thoughts on “Why Neighbors With Benefits Got Cancelled

  1. im really upset about this I actually thought instead of being looked at negatively people should look at the lifestyle as anything but being negative so many people view swinging as being wrong or horrible.but I’m all reality look at divorce rates among the U.S..people cheat people should be open with their significant other and explore each other’s fantasies instead of hiding behind lies.i think the show opened up the minds of a lot of people.and really it opened up the truth to a lifestyle really worth trying and helping a relationship.

  2. It wasn’t an objection to the swinging lifestyle that turned the viewers off to the show. It was the show, itself, that was awful. The characters were stiff and awkward and pretty pathetic. I think it made many of us feel like we were participating in the exploitation of these people. The men appeared kind of vacant and narcissistic and the women either desperate for attention or desperate to hold onto their husbands. It made the audience uncomfortable to witness the desperation of some of these characters. It wasn’t moral outrage that cancelled the show; it was an awful, sad experience that made the viewers feel uncomfortable.

  3. I watched this show by curiosity, not to see what it is but to see how they would apply it on a reality show.
    They screwed up. We have this lifestyle and I’ve been married to my wife for 20 years now. It is true that every couple have there own rules and limits. It’s all a question of respect for yourself your partner and your friends limit.
    The reason why i’m writing is that on the show they said they never do anything whit good friends. In real life you have 2 types of swingers; the first one does it whit any couple on special occasion and thats it after they dont see each other, the second is my type meaning only with very good friends that are open minded. People i can trust and I know they will respect us. Its not love because i’m married to the person i love, its only physical. In a certain way we could say there good friend to “fuck with”

    I could thalk about it all day, but its hard for me since english is not my primary language. Sorry if some sentences were hakward.

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