5 Cherished Family Sitcoms (with Scenes that Censors Found too Shocking for TV)

    May 18, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Family sitcoms are subjected to the same fast environment as all Hollywood productions. But, because they are family-oriented, TV network censors are constantly fretting that their alcoholic writers or coked-up actors will do or say something inappropriate. Even the slightest boat-rocking could cause prudish advertisers to pull their sponsorship. With this in mind, we found five cases of family sitcoms going toe-to-toe with censors:

    Family Matters

    family matters

    What Was It?

    Quirky show that rode the inexplicable popularity of Steve Urkel’s screechy voice long enough to surpass The Cosby Show as the longest running African-American sitcom of all time.

    How Could This Show Have Possibly Pissed off Censors?

    One scene which you’ll never see fully replayed on Nick-at-Nite involves perky teen Laura as the victim of a racial hate crime. The story begins with Laura petitioning classmates to add black history to the teaching curriculum.┬áLaura and Steve walk to her locker, which has been busted open. However, things inside look neat, perhaps the culprit had a cleaning disorder. Inside, Laura finds a note which reads, “if you want Black History, go back to Africa.” Funny how such a phrase can be racist when said by a student, yet warm and inviting when stated by the Egyptian National Tourism Board.

    At this point, we commend the writers for tackling such a serious issue, Just like Cosby used to do on his show when he wasn’t busy scoring huge laughs by talking in baby talk. However, at this point the show takes it what some people consider a little too far, when Laura finds the N-word sprayed across her locker.

    First of all, this is an open-and-shut case. The culprit has to be this guy:

    family matters 2

    The reasoning is simple: He appears to be the only guy in the entire school who isn’t black.

    Instead of evolving into an open discussion on racial persecution, this episode walks dangerously close to becoming about some goofy O.C.D. white guy’s Othello complex. Meanwhile, thousands of parents had to somehow explain 400 years of America’s brutal past in words a five-year-old could understand.


    Too Close for Comfort

    too close

    What was it?

    Sitcom about grown children moving back in with their parents. This used to be considered “wacky” and not “horrifically widespread”

    How Could This Show Have Possibly Pissed off Censors?

    Two women rape a gay guy.

    “Too Close for Comfort” lasted several seasons on ABC. When that network was done with it, a smaller one called Metromedia Producers Corporation began making new episodes. These episodes were predictably inferior to the big-network productions, and writers started relying on sexy gimmicks. One of these involves the neighbor, Monroe, being hauled into the back of a van and sexually assaulted by two forceful women.

    monroe pic

    Now we can't hear "too close for comfort" without thinking it's a metaphor for rape

    This episode was apparently aired just once before it was wisely pulled from the rotation. In fact, it became the stuff of legend with humorous conspiracy theories coming into play.

    Surprisingly, the gang rape plotline did not boost ratings. Too Close for Comfort was canceled soon after, but they forgot to cancel the horrific images it scarred into our brains.


    I Love Lucy

    lucy stock

    What Was It?

    Family sitcom about a wife who misbehaves and a husband who is ever-so-slightly not white

    How Could This Show Have Possibly Pissed off Censors?

    Lucy got pregnant.

    When this future hit was about to premiere, Lucy was pregnant with co-star and real-life husband Desi Arnaz. The network was edgy about opening the show with the bold revelation that a Puerto Rican had knocked up a ginger. So they filmed the pilot with her character not pregnant, even though she was showing.

    Lucy pilot

    Anything offensive can be covered with coats and white paint

    Season two, the show was a huge hit, and Lucille Ball got pregnant again. This time, producers decided to work it into the storyline, but still couldn’t get over their stodginess about the whole thing. Censors banned the word “pregnant” from the set. However, any number of metaphors were still good, “with child,” “expecting,” “knocked up hard,” etc. We’re not sure how that helped, and we have to go with the natural assumption that television producers are high.

    Hannah Montana

    Hannah Montana

    What Was It?

    Before Miley Cyrus became a renowned international scholar, she had this hit Disney show

    How Could This Show Have Possibly Pissed off Censors?

    Diabetics were treated like bumbling time bombs.

    This episode was meant to deal with the problems that are caused by juvenile diabetes. Unfortunately, the writers apparently couldn’t be troubled to look up what diabetes actually was. So, they all simply assumed it meant that the sufferer has some dumb ass condition where if they eat sugar they will die.

    candy party

    A diabetic chamber of horrors

    Miley secretly finds out that a friend has diabetes. Let’s get this straight: Diabetics can have candy without dying instantly. It’s not water to their Wicked Witchiness. But, the episodes climax focuses on Miley’s diabetic friend at a candy-themed party. He bumbles along, marveling at all the sweet treats, while Miley goes so far as to trash the entire party to “keep him safe.” We’re not sure why, if candy is so ruthlessly lethal, Miley’s friend doesn’t just know about it already.

    This episode was pulled before it even aired over fears that children would start treating diabetes patients like diseased freaks. Thank goodness, or else pre-teens everywhere might have learned some bad habits from Miley Cyrus:


    Leave It To Beaver

    What Was It?

    Idealized suburban family sitcom about a kid with a vaginal nickname

    How Could This Show Have Possibly Pissed off Censors?

    They showed a toilet.

    In 1957, showing a toilet on television was still a big no-no. After all, if they wanted to have a frank and open discussion of fecal matter, they should hold a “very special episode.”

    The intended premiere of “Leave It To Beaver” found the busy, sweaty Beaver worked into a frenzy over a baby alligator. Needing a place to keep it, he tries the toilet tank. Censors forced this episode to be shelved because of the appearance of the Cleavers’ toilet.

    wally and the beav

    Seeing this in the 1950s was like watching lemon party today

    A compromised was reached in which only the tank of the toilet could be shown. “Leave It To Beaver” aired the episode, and America was saved from seeing the wretched appliance that they already see 3-5 times per day.

    It’s interesting to see the wide range of censorship that has affected American television. We, as a nation, might be more inclined to question the validity of the First Amendment, if censors didn’t constantly prove that they have no idea what they’re doing.


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