Over the last decade, society has become unaccepting of certain words, phrases, and jokes. There’s a new appreciation and sensitivity towards minorities that didn’t exist years ago. Television shows aren’t immune to this growth among creators and viewers. Jokes that once made people laugh now make some people feel uncomfortable.
Back in the day, sexist, racist, and homophobic comedic moments were openly used to amuse viewers. There wasn’t a problem with it. A lot of shows copied each other with their joke styles in a slightly redundant manner. Thanks to social media and new outlooks on life, there’s now an unwillingness to laugh at humor that’s thought of as too edgy.
Shows like “Home Improvement” that relied heavily on gender inequality for jokes would have to find new angles to take. Shows as recent as “Gossip Girl” showcased teenage drinking and substance abuse heavily in episodes. There was a fear this type of behavior would become normalized in society, since the characters received little backlash for their actions. “Gossip Girl” antics wouldn’t fly today.
Current shows have to venture to new territories for suitable humor. It’s given audiences a greater appreciation for writers who come up with jokes that don’t insult or hurt anyone. Programs like “Abbott Elementary,’ for example,’ don’t tear people down as a method of getting laughs. It’s a show that thrives today, and would’ve also thrived in the 90s and 80s. (Click here to read more about TV lines kids from the 80s still remember.)
To compile a list of television shows that would be banned today, 24/7 Tempo consulted entertainment sites. These sources include IMDb, RottenTomatoes, and ScreenRant.
- Time on air: 2005-2013
Even though it’s revered by fans around the world, “The Office” wouldn’t fly in today’s society. For starters, despite the fact that he’s adored, Michael Scott is a character who never thought before he spoke. He was slightly judgmental of women and always unintentionally stereotyping people. The staff would become uncomfortable hearing his remarks, but nothing would change. The entire dynamic of the show was different after Michael left for Colorado. The humor that made the show popular in its early days simply wouldn’t fly today.
- Time on air: 1997-Present
If “South Park” wasn’t already on television today, there’s no way it would have gotten the green light. The reason the writers were able to get away with it when it first came out is because nobody was off limits to make fun of. They were able to call out different stereotypes and shed light on how silly they are. The show teaches viewers a lot about how to view the world and become more accepting. The message is good, but the way it’s delivered wouldn’t be suitable for a debut in today’s climate.
All in the Family
- Time on air: 1971-1979
To say that “All in the Family” was groundbreaking given the time it was released would be an understatement. The show addressed social, political, and gender issues during the 1970s. However, the way they went about it included many different insensitive words and phrases that viewers couldn’t stomach these days. The misogynistic way women were treated in the show would be tough for actors to pull off. Regardless, this show did help bring society forward.
- Time on air: 1999-Present
Another show that’s still running today is “Family Guy.” This show would have a tough time breaking through if it wasn’t already on the air. Almost every character in the show is flawed, which brings them to say and do things that aren’t acceptable by today’s culture. The cutaway jokes that are typically included revolve around race or gender. However, “Family Guy” doesn’t focus on one gender or race when it comes to jokes. Nobody is off limits, giving them a leg to stand on. The show has changed a lot recently to keep up with the times.
The Dukes of Hazzard
- Time on air: 1979-1985
For starters, the face the Confederate Flag waved around in every episode would have gotten “The Dukes of Hazzard” canceled almost immediately if it premiered today. The show followed the Duke cousins as they caused trouble in Hazzard County. The way Daisy Duke, another cousin, was hyper sexualized would need to be tamed. She was a huge staple as a reason why a lot of younger men watched. Lots would have to change for “The Dukes of Hazzard” to be allowed back on the air.
Toddlers & Tiaras
- Time on air: 2009-2016
The way children are exploited by their parents made audiences uncomfortable when “Toddlers & Tiaras” first premiered. Today, watching these parents force their children on stage (when most of the children don’t even want to be there) would be a disaster. Letting kids be kids is a common goal parents strive for. This show defeated that notion entirely. The Covid-19 Pandemic also took away two years of childhood for the younger generation, so there’s no reason to put them on television shows as toxic as that one in the future.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
- Time on air: 2012-2017
TLC had multiple shows that exploited child beauty pageants and all that goes into them. One of the most popular shows during this run was a spinoff of “Toddlers & Tiaras.” It was called “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” Unlike a lot of kids on the show, Honey Boo Boo actually enjoyed pageant life and wanted to be there. However, her mom was associated with a sex offender, which caused Honey Boo Boo to move in with her sister.
- Time on air: 1975-1985
“The Jeffersons” broke down countless barriers for the African-American community when it first premiered in 1975. The show followed an established African-American family trying to find their way in an upscale community. However, even though the show was groundbreaking, there were still countless racial jokes and incorrect stereotypes portrayed. Today’s culture would find these jokes uneasy and unsettling, even though the show helped people gain insight they might not have otherwise gained during this time.
America’s Next Top Model
- Time on air: 2003-2018
Watching Tyra Banks yell at models to lose weight when they were already thin to make it in the modeling world was met with less resistance when the show was airing. Today, Banks still gets blasted with comments from people talking about the toxic way she treated the contestants. Social media platforms gave the traumatized contestants a place to come forward with their stories of what happened. Now that society knows that what was caught on camera only showcased half of how bad it got, “America’s Next Top Model” would have no chance of surviving today.
Married… With Children
- Time on air: 1987-1997
The Bundy family took center stage in 1987 when “Married… With Children” first premiered. At the time, the show was considered a hit because of its humor. However, fans failed to recognize how sexist and harmful the stereotypes and jokes were. Today, shows and movies can’t get away with this same style of jokes. The show would need to be more inclusive to women without objectifying them the way the show allowed during its run.
- Time on air: 1955-1956
Even though it was only on TV from 1955 to 1956, “The Honeymooners” was revered for the humor it brought to television. Much of that humor revolved around Ralph Kramden threatening his wife, Alice, for comedic effect. Society today doesn’t tolerate jokes where anyone is threatened — Whether it’s physical or emotional. “The Honeymooners” would have to change the entire dialogue of the show to do well among audiences these days.
Boy Meets Boy
- Time on air: 2003
“Boy Meets Boy” was far ahead of its time. The reality show followed a gay man as he was looking for love in the early 2000s. James Getzlaff was the main prize, and a group of fifteen other men tried to match with him. However, after time spent dating around, Getzlaff was told that some of the men were straight. If Getzlaff picked a gay man to love as the winner, he would win $25,000 along with his potential husband. If the man he picked was straight, the contestant would win the $25,000 — And Getzlaff would be left with nothing. This premise would have the LGBTQ community up in flames, because Getzlaff was originally there for love.
- Time on air: 1989-2001
“Baywatch” is a show that followed lifeguards on the California coast from 1989 to 2001. While the show was incredibly successful during its run, there’s no way it would fly today. A huge reason the show ran as long as it did was because it objectified women. This wasn’t seen as a problem then, but these days it would cause major issues among feminist and women’s rights groups. It didn’t help that a lot of the beachside running scenes were slowed down to add more of a sense of objectification to the characters. This show would require many changes to be successful among audiences today.
Eastbound and Down
- Time on air: 2009-2013
All Kenny Powers cares about is getting drunk and hooking up with women. This plot kept “Eastbound and Down” on air from 2009 to 2013. However, the fact that the crude humor was sexist and demeaning means the show wouldn’t fly by today’s standards in society. Everyone can cheer for someone to get a second chance, but watching someone throw their chances away disgustingly is hard to watch.
That 70s Show
- Time on air: 1998-2006
“That 70s Show” sits firmly in the hearts of Millennials as one of the best shows ever. Looking back at it now, viewers see the clear sexism and objectification of women that takes place in nearly every episode. While it’s on par with how society was in the 70s, there are much better methods of conveying that outdated mentality in ways the characters wouldn’t agree with. The use of drugs and alcohol among teenagers as a comedic tool is another reason the show wouldn’t have any leg to stand on today. The show incorporated different races of characters, but that diversity wouldn’t be enough to carry it today.
- Time on air: 1991-1999
Regardless of how popular it was in the 1990s, “Home Improvement” would be canceled pretty quickly if it was shown on television today. Tim Taylor was an old school guy who could fix anything he needed. He worked an honest job and enjoyed his family. He acted out in demeaning ways toward his wife and continually flexed a superiority complex. A large portion of the show’s comedy was rooted in traditional marriage values. These are ideologies that have flown out the window in recent years. Taylor would have to be more uplifting and supportive of his wife if the show were to air in 2024.
- Time on air: 2007-2012
There’s a fine line that “Gossip Girl” was teetering when it first aired. The scene featuring Chuck and Jenny where he forced himself on her definitely wouldn’t be okay today. Overall, the teenage dependency on drugs, alcohol, and hooking up in the high school age range is a message that shouldn’t be delivered. With the rise in social media, the idea of an anonymous person posting about the lives of their classmates would cause everyone to feel judged and critiqued everywhere they went. Even though the show is heavily praised, it wouldn’t make the cut for entertainment these days.
The Jerry Springer Show
- Time on air: 1991-2018
One of the most toxic daytime programs in history is “The Jerry Springer Show.” In each episode, there were fights, brawls, and dramatic tears shed for other people’s entertainment. The worst part of all is that the brawls and fights were scripted. The show revealed a side of Americans that shouldn’t be celebrated. Springer wanted these people to cause mayhem for viewership purposes. Despite the fact the show was toxic, people couldn’t help but tune in. These days, there’s no way a show like this would fly.
How I Met Your Mother
- Time on air: 2005-2014
Another show that relied heavily upon jokes that touched on gender and sexism is “How I Met Your Mother.” Today, Barney would be harshly judged and criticized for his behavior in nearly every episode. His lack of respect for women wasn’t fully frowned upon back then. While other characters talked to him about it, nobody truly ever did enough to make him stop. These old-school ideas and plots the show aimed to take on would have audiences cringing all the time.
- Time on air: 1972-1983
One of the most critically acclaimed shows in television history is “M*A*S*H.” The war show aired during the Vietnam War and Cold War times, which captivated audiences. However, the show failed to truly talk about the serious mental health problems soldiers routinely return with after battle. In fact, they often made it a joke. Additionally, the awful things that go on during wars were also made into jokes. With how serious the topic of mental health has become, the show would need to change a lot in order to be taken seriously.
- Time on air: 2001-2010
The medical field has grown tremendously over the last 14 years, which is how long “Scrubs” has been off the air. When it was on, the characters would make jokes and remarks about specific medical conditions they saw on a daily basis. There were also dozens of examples where the medical staff would do unethical and immoral things to the patients they saw. This happened when they knew it was wrong, too. In order to survive as a medical show these days, writers have to be conscious of making sure patients are taken care of instead of mocked.
The Big Bang Theory
- Time on air: 2007-2019
Rather than making fun of someone for being a nerd or geek, intelligent people should be celebrated. This wasn’t the case on “The Big Bang Theory.” The main characters struggled because they dealt with the most basic and mainstream stereotypes that nerds are perceived to have. In today’s society, “nerdy” individuals wouldn’t be made fun of in a show like this. Instead, they’d be honored and accepted for being themselves. The constant struggle of fitting in isn’t something to be mocked in today’s culture. Click here to read more about classic TV shows no one remembers.