Fox’s ‘Grease Live’ Censorship: Too much or not enough?


Grease Live 1

Confession: I fell for the hype around Fox’s “Grease Live” out of curiosity.

I had to find out what the social media fuss was about around this revamped production of “Grease,” a movie I don’t get tired of watching.

However, as much as I love this movie, I couldn’t included it in the children’s film guide I recently published, “101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up” because of the risky content. So I was curious to find out how much would be altered in the live broadcast since most of us are very familiar with the racy topics of this innocent-looking show.

I was 18 years old when the iconic 1978 film “Grease,” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, was released — an adult.

But showing “Grease Live” on a Sunday night made me think there would be something different to cater to the prime-time TV watching crowd.

This also meant trading my Sunday night TV appointments with “Billions,” “Madam Secretary” and “Downton Abbey” for the three-hour musical which, as a west coaster, turned out not to be live at all.

Was it worth MY time? Sure. But the real question is, was it worth a young family’s time?

Let’s find out what Twitter had to say about this.

I didn’t even notice the changes to the lyrics. #GreaseLive

— Kendall Trammell (@KendallTrammell) February 1, 2016

#GreaseLive the fact that they had to censor ruins my entire life.

— Kelsey Morgan (@kelsam95) February 1, 2016

Though I love the nostalgia associated with the 1950s high school scene, I’m still scratching my head about the incongruence of the censorship in “Grease Live.”

Executive producer Marc Platt told AdWeek that corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola forced the show to tone down some of the language. “It’s going to be a very family-friendly show, but with the appropriate edge that it needs to have,” Platt said. That’s how “Grease Lightning”’s “the chicks’ll cream” became “the chicks’ll scream,” and “she’s a really pussy wagon” became “she’s a real dream wagon.”

I have mixed emotions about this show; not about the performances, but about how Fox decided to censor the risky lines and scenes of the original movie from the live version. This had to be done since airing “Grease Live” at 7PM on Sunday is prime family time…at least it used to be.

So, did you catch the lyric swapping?

Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo was superb. While she was singing “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” I first noticed they had swapped the word “Hey Fangoon” (which apparently in Italian means to do it in the a**) was changed to “be cool.” Easy enough change.

But then…they let Rizzo say “flog your log.” Go figure.

The show runners also didn’t put up a fight and left some of the iconic lyrics in “Summer Loving” practically intact.

But what Fox didn’t re-imagine at all was the pelvic thrusting, condom-wielding, back-seat-humping, and other explicit moves in this broadcast.

References to hookers and ‘doing it’ were highlighted throughout the show leaving little to the imagination.

Sure, kids today have likely been expose to and seen way too much inappropriate content via other media, but does it mean that networks can indiscriminately have at it too?

The rating for this show was TV-14. Enough warning for families to take into consideration if they’d be allowing their younger kids to watch this musical.

But, then I have to ask, why was this show on at 7PM?

I can’t imagine the schedulers thinking “Hey, it’s a school night. Let’s get this on early enough so kids don’t stay up ’till midnight watching their High School Musical idol Vanessa Hudgens, or teen heartthrob Joe Jonas.” Yeah, right!

East Coast people may have had it a little tougher since their broadcast was really live and started at 6PM — just in time for Sunday family dinner and a show.

Finding a balance in these edgy shows is difficult since maintaining the attention of the mature viewer is a challenge. Which makes me wonder, who was this show targeting anyway?

Overall, I liked the show. But I’ll admit I didn’t watch the whole thing.

After the first two hours, I exercised my right and changed the channel — which these days most families have to do because shows aren’t adequately censored for young families.

I’d seen and heard enough uncensored material from this show, and also got the gist of the huge effort it is to put on a live production (semi-live for the West Coast).

I’m glad that even though I was a couple of hours late, “Downton” was still waiting for me on the DVR.

Did you watch “Grease Live” with your family? If you did, what did you think of the censorship: Was it too much or not enough?











  1. Thank you for the common sense age recommendations. I think I’ll watch it without the kids for now.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      There’s a time for everything. Why rush it, right, Abby? My kids are grown so I don’t have to worry about any of this stuff anymore. It makes me think about today’s young parents and the things they have to contend with in the media. Must be exhausting to have to be vigilant all the time.

  2. Lisa says:

    I’ve watched Grease since I was about 7, and don’t recall questioning what things meant til I was in junior high, or actually getting it til I was in high school, so its never concerned me as a parent…. But then, I was a naive kid lol!

    • Suzette Valle says:

      I think that when I watched it as an 18 year old, most it went over my head too! But today’s kids are much more aware of the sexual references. Sigh.

  3. Cassandra says:

    I didn’t get to watch this live, but I wanted to. Interesting that they chose to censor some things and not others…

    • Suzette Valle says:

      I agree, Cassandra. It was strange, especially since some of the parts they left in were rather racy for a 7pm show. I guess they assume kids know far too much already to worry about safeguarding their innocence.

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