Workaholics is an American comedy program that follows the lives of three recent college dropouts, named Adam, Blake and Ders. The three men are housemates and work together at a telemarketing company. Their interests are partying, drinking, doing drugs, watching pornography and seeking out women. Their pursuits frequently land them in various predicaments, which serve as the basis for the show’s comedic plots.
Much aired the episode entitled “Dorm Daze” on December 25, 2023 at 9:00 pm. As a single-feed specialty service based in Toronto (Eastern Time), this meant the show appeared at 7:00 pm in the Mountain time zone, where the complainant lives.
Much aired a 14+ icon for 15 seconds at the beginning of the broadcast as well as the following viewer advisory in audio and video formats at the beginning and coming out of every commercial break:
This program contains scenes of sexuality, coarse language and mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.
In this episode, the three men are sent by their employer to a job fair at a college campus to recruit new employees. While Ders mans the company’s booth, Adam and Blake explore the campus. Adam recognizes the surroundings from his favourite pornographic movies and goes off alone in search of the dorm room where he believes the filming takes place. Blake auditions for a campus theatre production, but when he gets kicked out of the auditions, a young woman tricks him into participating in an amateur porn movie.
A viewer complained on December 25, 2023 about one particular scene in the episode that the viewer had encountered while scrolling through the dial. Ders’s job fair booth is located beside that of the United States Coast Guard. Ders has been antagonizing four Coast Guard officers by making jokes about their lazy work ethic and their participation in homosexual activity. When the officers come over to his booth to confront him, Ders asks “What are you going to do, give me a code red?” The scene then switches to an aerial view of the four Coast Guard officers holding Ders stomach-down on the ground with his pants partway down to reveal his buttocks. One officer who had been drinking out of a fast food cup pours the remainder of his beverage onto Ders’s buttocks. The camera shifts to ground level where the viewer sees Ders’s strained face pleading “Don’t do this! […] My butt hairs are all fizzy now!” An officer then says “I think Officer Petty Tailwags is looking a little thirsty” and picks up a little dog who is with them and brings it closer to Ders’s behind. The officer holds the dog to Ders’s behind and the dog licks it. Ders cries out “That’s not good, that’s not good, that’s not good!” and then with a confused look on his face, “That’s not … bad. […] O-o-okay.” One of the Coast Guard officers then tears up Ders’s list of recruits and throws it on Ders’s head.
The viewer characterized the scene as “bestiality” and “animal cruelty” and was also concerned that the man being held down was obviously upset at what was being done to him. The complainant wrote that this “appeared to be an act of plain and simple perversion” and was particularly troubled by the fact that it aired during prime time when children are watching television.
Much responded to the complainant on January 22, 2023. It explained that Workaholics is a comedy and that the scene in question was a comedic act of revenge by the Coast Guard officers on Ders for disrespecting them. Much pointed out that, although the scene could be construed as “crude”, the dog was not harmed in the scene and it did not contain any material that would make it inappropriate for telecast. Much noted that it had rated the program 14+ and aired it at 9:00 pm in the province in which its signal originates. It also emphasized that it is not a children’s channel.
The complainant wrote back to both the CBSC and Much on January 23, reiterating the concerns about the time at which this program aired in Alberta and the treatment of the dog. The complainant wrote again to the CBSC on February 2, arguing that no one had done their duty to take “the network to task for their offensive programming”.
In addition to the scene that concerned the complainant, the episode contained numerous other scenes involving discussions about sex, masturbation and porn movies. The language frequently includes euphemisms and vulgar slang in reference to sexual acts and body parts. In addition, Adam re-creates sexual positions and there is a series of brief clips of people engaged in sexual activity as Adam tries to remember scenes from porn movies. There are also scenes of a young woman and a male porn director convincing Blake to participate in their movie. Blake eventually disrobes down to his boxers and distressedly rubs his crotch in an attempt to get aroused for the scene. Adam barges in to “save” Blake before the filming goes any further. The final scene shows a line-up of men outside the “porn dorm room” waiting to film a “Coast Guard gang bang”. The sound of a woman moaning with sexual pleasure can be heard in the background.
The English-Language Panel is charged with examining the complaint under the codes and guidelines administered by the CBSC, and did so with reference to the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code and Code of Ethics.
The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed a recording of the challenged broadcast. The Panel concludes that Much did not breach any of the aforementioned code provisions.