Virginity on TV.

Last night I stumbled upon Kirstie, one of TV Land’s original sitcoms whose almost-all star cast (which includes Kirstie Alley, Rhea Pearlman, and Michael Richards) is promising.

I intended to call it a night but seconds after I settled on the show, what her character Madison said of her son assaulted me:

“Twenty-six years old and still a virgin . . . The elephant man lost it before that.”

Naturally — as a 28-year-old virgin — I kept watching. Below are a few excerpts and beneath each, quick commentary:

1. “I’ve been having this problem with Arlo…”

In her dressing room (she’s a Broadway actress), Madison vents to a co-star. The problem? Her son Arlo’s virginity. I have a problem with that. For viewers, the line reinforces the misconception that not having sex necessarily says there is something wrong with you. Somebody’s virginity isn’t the problem. Somebody else’s fear of it is.

2. “I know you’re generous with your love.”

Also in her dressing room, Madison recruits her understudy — a blonde named Brittany —  to seduce her son so he can lose his virginity. The line — clearly code for “I know you have a lot of sex with a lot of people” — is an egregious misuse of the word love in a culture that doesn’t need more misuses of it. Nothing connects promiscuity to love other than perhaps a misguided quest for it.

3. “My little boy’s a man!”

Upon learning that Arlo did, in fact, have sex with Brittany, Madison beams with pride — the deed, she implied, is evidence of his manhood. But having sex doesn’t make a person a man. If it did, a lot of women would be men, too. #justsayin’. Margaret and Dwight Peterson respond to that notion this way: “Our culture glorifies sexual prowess—many people simply assume that sexual experience and personal maturity go together, and that anyone who is virginal or otherwise inexperienced is for that reason a mere child. … In reality, experience and maturity are not the same thing. It is possible to have a great deal of sexual experience and to be a thoroughly immature person, and possible likewise to have little or no experience of sexual relationship and yet to be secure and well grounded in one’s own masculinity or femininity.” -page 137 of Are You Waiting for the One?

4. “I see clearly that he has a type. . .dirty little whores.”

Predictably, Arlo’s relationship with Brittany ends and Madison worries he’ll be bummed about it for awhile. But when he walks into the kitchen one morning, followed by a lady Madison hasn’t seen before — one who spent the night with her son — Madison opines and in doing so, perpetuates a damaging double standard: Guys can’t be men unless they have sex, but women are whores when they do.

Not cool, Kirstie. Not cool.