We’re living in a time in which people are widely rewarded for being soft and whining too much. Complaining and being offended are now popular pastimes and political correctness is being strictly enforced in all corners of society. Want to do an experiment? Go outside and shout a derogatory word, any derogatory word. Chances are, some frightened, confused looking person will cautiously shuffle up to you and shake a finger, telling you why the word you said is offensive. What they will leave out is, why you should care.
Most of the tears shed these days by the political correctness police come from pop culture itself. Movies, television and music often feature edgy content, and as such, those who can’t handle it take showers while whimpering and hugging their knees and then take to their blogs. Whether their delicate sensitivities were offended by racial humor, homophobic lyrics, or, let’s say mocking of a transgender “celebrity” that people are calling a “hero”, the benign sadness and sobbing usually involves the words “insensitivity” and “privilege”.
In honor of all this hypersensitive, touchy-feely, stupidity, I decided it was about time for a detailed and very necessary look back at some amazing, hilarious television shows that people find offensive. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any person should have to deal with violence or intimidation because of who they are, but one’s inability to take a joke is their own weakness. Here is our list of the television history’s twelve amazing sitcoms widely considered to be offensive.
12. Two and a Half Men
I’ll out myself on this one, from Platoon to Two and Half Men, I am an unrepentant fan of everything that has comprised Charlie Sheen’s career. Charlie, Alan and Jake Harper were three memorable characters and their show offended just about everyone at one point or another. However, if I had to think about it for a shred of a second, homosexuals and women were often the butt of plenty of jokes.
Alan, played by Jon Cryer, was somewhat effeminate and had difficulties with women, and was constantly on the receiving end of gay jokes. Furthermore, Charlie Harper (Sheen) had various run-ins with transgender women and gay men, all punctuated by vulgar, crass humour. The show was also criticized for its depiction of women, who were often shown as troublingly stupid or manipulative. Not much changed when Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher) entered the show in place of Sheen, after his falling out with the series creator, Chuck Lorre.
11. The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
If we look back in history books to 1998, we see a show that looked back in history and decided that slavery would be a great plot point for a sitcom. This show is widely considered to be one of the worst to ever be shown on television. Prior to even airing, there was protesting and plenty of controversy based around the very premise of the show.
Looking at the show with the objectivity that over a decade and a half can provide, it’s not really that bad. While a show like this seemed at the time to be a terrible exercise in racism, The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer was little more than period based toilet humor and a thorough parody of Abraham Lincoln.
10. All in the Family
Having been born in 1988, I’m a bit young to have actually experienced the ridiculous, racist, misogynistic humor of Archie Bunker. One of the most ironic instances of confusing television history is the fact that Bunker was originally supposed to be a disliked character.
Unfortunately, someone failed to do their homework and know their audience, because Bunker came to be seen as a decent portrayal of a funny, crude, frank, and ultimately honest blue collar man. Those who understood the character, including some celebrities who were members of groups Bunker joked about, actually liked the character, saying he was a lot like plenty of Americans at the time.
With that said, calling a man who was both African-American and Jewish a “two-time loser” is pretty offensive. I’ll admit it though, I laughed. Maybe that makes me a bad person. The show’s defenders have always said that Archie Bunker’s humor was meant to be, in and of itself, a direct series of jabs at prejudice, but some people can’t read between the lines and get past their own snap decision to be offended.
9. 2 Broke Girls
Joining Two and a Half Men in our hall of fame of recent, offensive, prime time television shows is 2 Broke Girls. If you can draw your eyes away from Kat Dennings’ chest (good luck) then yeah, you might hear something offensive. The entire show is pretty much sexual humor with very little innuendo.
One of the main supporting characters is Han Lee. He’s a very short Asian man who runs a restaurant, is beyond socially awkward and talks about nothing but work. He is the “stepping off point” for every Asian joke in the show, and there are several every week.
My biggest personal complaint with the show is that it isn’t that funny. The jokes are there but the delivery is poor, the timing is off and the jokes themselves could be better. It feels like every gag in the show is based on the knee-jerk comedic reaction of a thirteen year old boy in any given situation.
8. Married With Children
The main character of Married with Children, Al Bundy, is essentially a younger Archie Bunker, minus a few character aspects. The show made jokes about just about everyone and all groups that could have been (and probably were) offended.
Ultimately, the sexual humor was poorly formed and generally very blunt. There were plenty who complained about this back in the late 80s and 90s, and plenty who would whine about it today. In one episode, Al and Peg try to “let off some steam” in a sleazy motel and end up finding an adult film featuring two of their neighbors. The humor writes itself! This would have sent plenty of viewers, particularly those scared of sex, recoiling in horror.
7. Da Ali G Show
Sacha Baron Cohen, otherwise known as “the Borat guy” and “that lucky bastard who married Isla Fisher” (the crazy redhead from Wedding Crashers), created Da Ali G Show, in which he played three “journalists”. Ali G, Borat and Bruno were those three, and they were considered highly offensive to black people, Jewish people and homosexuals respectively. Each of these characters were however, as loved as they were hated, as three movies resulted from the show’s popularity.
Arguably the most offensive of this ridiculous trio was Borat, who was a Kazakh reporter who routinely talked about killing Jews to benefit his country. The humor was lost on those who either took the show literally or failed to realize that Cohen himself is a Jew.
6. Heil Honey I’m Home!
Well, I just spoke of Borat, who offended plenty of people with antisemitic rhetoric, does anybody remember when British television aired a program that featured Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun as a sitcom couple, living next door to a Jewish couple with whom they could not seem to get along? It was cancelled after just a single episode.
The show featured two of the most widely disliked people in history, but showed them on air as an idiotic pair, and ultimately wanted the goal of the show to be to use humor and a twist, to explore history. Whatever the intention was, it was not well received. The fact that quite a few of the show’s cast and crew were Jewish did not make any difference.
I had intended to run this list down going from least offensive to most, and have done it that way. But it was not until I was over halfway through that I noticed that the first seven were all sitcoms with real actors, while the final five (spoiler alert) are all animated. I guess it goes to show that a team of writers can get far more creative and edgy with cartoons than the alternative.
Huey, Riley and Grandad Freeman were the main characters of this sometimes painfully funny show and poked fun at everything from the Civil Rights Movement to the 9/11 Terrorist attacks. It seemed like over the course of the show’s four seasons, an episode rarely went by without some prominent figure objecting to the ongoing use of the “N-bomb” or ridiculing political figures, such as Martin Luther King in January, 2006.
4. South Park
To be fair to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators, South Park is rarely trying to offend people. The show has spent 18, now into the 19th, seasons pointing out hypocrisy and ridiculing society with edgy, absurd humor. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny have gone to Afghanistan and called people “sand monkeys”, they have made fun of Jesus, Mohammad, Moses and every religious figure out there (in one Easter themed episode, Kyle, the show’s Jewish character, killed Jesus) and recently, Randy, Stan’s father said the “n-word” on Wheel of Fortune because he thought he’d make money. Finally, a fourth grade teacher got a sex change operation and later had it reversed, producing great episode premises the whole way.
The show has prodded and lampooned every American political figure and even made an episode about sex addiction, which featured Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and other celebrities in a hilarious classroom, learning how not to get caught. If someone considers anything to be sacred, South Park has probably offended that person.
3. Family Guy
Much like South Park, there is some evidence that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, does not try to offend a new group of people every day. He is an outspoken supporter of LGBT stuff and is by no means a racist, but uses his characters, meant as comical caricatures of America’s stupidest, to make valid points about life.
The show has been criticized for Glenn Quagmire, a womanizer who frequently drugs women while on dates, Peter Griffin, who is a misogynist and somewhat racist, and numerous other characters from a lisping homosexual named Bruce to Herbert, an elderly pedophile. These characters all play their own role in the unmitigated, hilarious gong show that is Family Guy. Of course, no topic is off limits for Peter and his friends, as shown when Quagmire’s dad transitions to a woman and sleeps with Peter Griffin’s dog, Brian.
They’ve offended just about everyone, but it’s hard to care while I’ve fallen off the couch laughing.
Daniel Tosh was involved with this show; who actually thought a fraction of a second of this show would be appropriate or kind? The series, which ended earlier this year, told the tales and misdeeds of a group of park rangers in Brickleberry National Park. One is little more than a normal animated sitcom buffoon, another is a war criminal and of course, there is a drunk and a lesbian.
Unlike South Park and Family Guy, there isn’t so much as an attempt to be subtle or clever. Brickleberry was hilarious and didn’t care who they offended. In the eyes of some, the show could have taken place anywhere; a national park, a car wash, a halfway house, and the same horrible, crude jokes could have been made.
1. Drawn Together
The first animated reality TV show first aired on Comedy Central and saw three gruesome, insensitive, painfully funny seasons. Drawn Together featured parody versions of various cartoon character archetypes. There was a musclebound but utterly useless superhero, a Legend of Zelda parody who was a closeted gay man, a 1920’s sex symbol who was considered overweight in the 2000’s, a racist princess, a promiscuous black woman, a pig (voiced by Adam Carolla) who defecated on pizzas and carried out other obscene pranks, a Japanese mouse-monster based on Pikachu, and what was supposed to poke fun at Spongebob Squarepants.
Racial humor and sex jokes were just the tip of the iceberg. There was a recurring character known only as the “Jew Producer”, an episode dedicated to a character’s handicapped cousin, abortion jokes, and casual gags about self-harm. The show was poorly received, but its fans still love it to this day. Drawn Together didn’t push the envelope, it annihilated the envelope.
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