MILF logo courtesy NBC; OMFG ad courtesy The CW MILF logo courtesy NBC; OMFG ad courtesy The CW

F-word-based acronyms are enjoying their best week ever. The ribald renaissance began with NBC's 30 Rock, which on Thursday gave us an episode titled "MILF Island." The CW's Gossip Girl then grabbed the baton, trumpeting its return with a marketing ad campaign showcasing the text-message squeal "OMFG."

Reporting on this convergence of effing buzz words has been a sticky wicket for the media. Some gray-lady outlets had to go way out of their way to not reiterate acronyms that were otherwise running rampant. ( Check out Washington Post columnist Lisa de Moraes' impressive effort to avoid typing MILF.) Those who did MILF and OMFG with the best of 'em - TVGuide.com included - ran the risk of offending readers who see such shortcuts not so much as veiled substitutes but epithets in and of themselves.

How I Epithet Your Mother
Of course, MILF enjoyed a long run on Weeds, and lord knows that worse words have been uttered in full on the likes of The Sopranos and South Park. But that's cable. The significance of this past week has been the assimilation into the prime-time arena of two acronyms that capitalize on the "cachet" of curse words.

But is referencing a MILF really as coarse as talking of (as the fictional series' announcer put it) a mommy you'd like to... you know...? Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, doesn't see so straight an exchange rate. "In many ways, acronyms are about bypassing having to say [the expletive]" he tells TVGuide.com. "The acronym already has a 'cleaning up' factor to it, similar to TV's 'bleep.'" (Fans of The Office saw this just last week, when Jan offered to give Michael a [bleeping] kid.) "They bleep the vowel but you get the consonant of either side, so everybody knows what they are talking about," says Thompson. "In the same way, an acronym is a nod to the fact that we're not going to say it."

Should Watchdog Groups Be Thankful?
Thompson cites snafu, brown-nose and jerk as three words that, were one to consult an etymologist, would turn a schoolmarm purple, yet are now used without redress. "If anybody is getting blushy about naughty words - and there are plenty of people doing that, including the entire PTC (Parents Television Council) - those people ought to be happy that these things have been turned into acronyms. They should thank text messaging for [reducing the use of] the F-word and its full pronunciation."

Still, some argue that by merely alluding to the F-word, NBC and the CW are sneaking an otherwise indecent syllable (or two) through the back door. Perhaps predicting such a backlash, the CW volunteered a statement explaining, "We wanted to create a provocative campaign [that] reminds viewers of some of the 'OMG' moments that have made Gossip Girl one of the most buzzed-about new shows. [Its] campaign speaks directly to our adult 18-34 viewers." A NBC rep, meanwhile, when asked if "MILF Island" hit any snafus on its way to becoming a 30 Rock title, noted that the episode carried a TV-14 warning. Says Thompson, "To blame [media outlets such as] TVGuide.com or 30 Rock or Gossip Girl for somehow legitimizing these words... that cow left the barn so long ago."

Don't Forget About the Other Letters!
The actual issue at hand might be the context the F-word is placed in each of these acronyms - especially if the likes of the PTC take notice. Dissecting MILF, Thompson notes, "Not only would they be outraged by the F-word, but you've got it along with disrespect for the nuclear family. That's a double whammy!" Gossip Girl's campaign - which places the F-word adjacent to the G-word - prompted one TVGuide.com reader to comment, "I do not agree that there is any age at which it should be considered OK to dismiss good manners and be blatantly disrespectful to [those] who consider it a serious breach of behavior to blaspheme... the name of God."

But the "plus" of an acronym is that the F, for all one knows, could stand for freaking, frickin' or even frakkin', allowing some wiggle room. After all, KFC and CBS no longer stand for what their acronyms initially spelled out, and such is the non-legacy OMFG might one day enjoy. Thompson's challenge to the offended: "Which would you prefer: Someone come out and say what OMFG stands for, or use the acronym which in half a generation no one will even remember what it meant? Yes, [NBC and the CW] snuck [the F-word] in, but at the same time they cleaned it up. Not a bad solution!"

What's your take? Have you been at all taken aback by the proliferation of "MILF" and "OMFG" these past few days? Did Sarah Silverman's "I'm F---ing Matt Damon" video perhaps pave the way?

Related:
" Watch video: OMFG! Gossip Girl Is Coming Back!
" OMFG! Check Out Gossip Girl's Racy New Ad Campaign!
" Watch video: Sarah Silverman is "Effing Matt Damon"