Have A Gay Old Time: Live-Action TV
Live Action Shows
- Pushing Daisies manages to get away with making Chuck use 'queer' to mean 'strange'. The narrator uses 'gay to mean 'happy' at one point, too, and that time, it is somewhat giggle-inducing. (The show is set in a Fifties Retro Universe.)
- And the narrator, for extra defiance, uses the word in its modern conception in "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy".
- There's a scene in an episode of I Love Lucy in which the expression "make love" is used in this way; Lucy asks an actor to act out a "love scene" in which he will "make love" to her in order to make Ricky Ricardo jealous.
- A similar scene exists in The Addams Family, in which Gomez is flirting with a woman as part of a ruse. Later, Morticia (who saw the whole thing) describes him as "making love" to the woman.
- In The Honeymooners, Norton, trying to get Ralph to do the Hucklebuck to prove to Alice that he can be young, urges him to "get in the groove and be gay!"
- The anthropological term "fetish", for a totemic object associated with a spirit being, also means a sexual fixation (usually for something weird or disgusting). Usually it's obvious which meaning is in use, as fictional depictions of the first meaning usually have real magical powers. However, in "False Prophets", an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Chakotay hears that the people who enter a temple always wear effigies of ears, and notes that "it must be some kind of fetish." (Considering that they're Ferengi ears, maybe it is.)
- The Movie of On The Buses has a theme song that features the amusing lyric "There's always gay life on the buses/make sure you leave your bird at home". Just to add to the bizarreness, one of the main characters is perving at a woman right at the moment when this lyric is sung.
- Ray Kowalski from Due South uses the older, 'strange, odd' meaning of 'queer' a few times.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", Bones refers to the tribbles as "bisexual" - meaning that they're hermaphroditic and can reproduce independently. Though this term can still be used this way by biologists, to most modern viewers it sounds as if he's speculating on the tribbles' sexual preference. This is confusing, to say the least.
- It's quite amusing to see the first promo for Star Trek, which proclaims it to be an "adult space adventure". They were trying to explain that Star Trek was going to be more a serious show than silly, family-oriented Lost in Space, but using "adult" in that context now sounds like a euphemism for something else.
- "Where No Man Has Gone Before" includes a bit of dialogue where Piper tells Kirk (who was found lying unconscious next to Spock) that Mitchell and Dehner have left for "that erection," referring to a rock formation.
- Leaves a bad taste? Modern viewers will be glad to know from the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that Lou Grant hates spunk!
- The song "Lick a Lolly" from The Electric Company probably didn't raise too many eyebrows in the '70s, but modern viewers tend to hear a... less child-friendly subtext. The fact that the performers are adults in childlike costume doesn't help.
"I know a boy, his name is Billy! And Billy loves to lick on a great big lolly!"
"And Solly says "Oh golly!" when he sees a lolly!"
- In Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Carl Sagan speculates about the type of life that may exist in the clouds of Jupiter. He calls them "sinkers and floaters."
- All Creatures Great and Small, being about vets and taking place in the late 1930s, regularly uses "bitch" to refer to actual female dogs.
- An episode of the 1960s Dragnet TV show had a trainer tell Sgt. Joe Friday he found Joe a good candidate for the first drug-sniffing dog, "a German Shepherd bitch."
- There are people out there who snicker at the title Leave It to Beaver.
- When you take into account the character's last name, he becomes Beaver Cleaver.
- On top of that, one episode had the Beav and Wally roped into taking care of a little girl - she promptly starts yelling that she wants "Mary Jane!" which was her term for 'the bathroom'. Got a lot of laughs from an audience of college kids.
- The Dragnet episode "The LSD Story" featured Joe Friday saying the line, "Marijuana is the flame, heroin is the fuse, LSD is the bomb." Three decades or so, a techno song was released entitled "LSD is the Bomb", including that line - but with a whole new slant (i.e., LSD is "cool," up-to-date).
- Some baby boomers will tell you that if at any time during the Cold War you had shouted "It's da bomb!" - well, mass panic would have ensued.
- Inverted in the third The Naked Gun movie, when terrorists plot to blow up an Academy Awards ceremony. When Frank Drebin finds the explosives in the Best Picture envelope, he calls out "It's the bomb!" - and the producers of the lowest-grossing film nominee immediately stand up, assuming they've won.
- There's a bootleg DVD of Kamen Rider Ryuki that's become famous among the American fan community for having the line, "Don't molest the lawyer!" in its English subtitles. While technically correct (a group of men are pushing said lawyer around and threatening him), the line is still gets giggles. To be fair to the subtitlers, who are from Hong Kong, they're translating Japanese into Chinese, then Chinese into English, while not having much knowledge of either foreign language.
- Doctor Who:
- Mercifully avoided in 1963 - a rejected name for the character who would eventually become Susan was "Gay". Gay (as an alternate version of Susan) does make an appearance in the 00s-era Expanded Universe book Campaign.
- In the 1966 story The Macra Terror, the Doctor's reaction to what we later learn is a mind-controlled Stepford Smiler colony is "Well this is gay!" The best part is his tone could just be stretched to mean gay as the high school synonym for "lame". Not to mention the more obvious meaning.
- And in the 1967 serial Evil of the Daleks, we hear the line "You seem to know all the queer (peculiar) people."
- One 1970s annual reminds us that "Q is for Queer Street, where the Doctor and his companions often end up!".
- In the 1966 story "The Savages", the Doctor proudly shows off to a scouting party that he has a machine that he calls 'a reacting vibrator'.
- In the 1966 story "The Smugglers", the Doctor describes Captain Avery as 'a man who prefers the company of gentlemen', and even claims it's because of the way he dresses and talks. From context it's more likely he means that the Captain is a Man of Wealth and Taste who prefers to hang around with other classy blokes, rather than meaning that he fancies men, but it may have been an intentional double-entendre (after all, we're dealing with a sailor).
- The 1968 story "Fury From the Deep" concerns a malevolent alien force called 'the Weed'. Hilarity Ensues if you Watch It Stoned: "One of us is being controlled by the Weed!" "That man being controlled by the Weed, he was wearing a gas mask!" It doesn't help that Patrick Troughton seems to relish in drawing out the word 'weeeeeeeeeed' as extensively as possible.
- Megan from Drake & Josh calls her brothers "boobs" at least Once an Episode.
- In Petticoat Junction, the town is named Hooterville. Now that "hooters" has inextricably become slang for breasts, a lot of the dialogue ("He's taking the train to Hooterville") can sound like Wacky Frat Boy Hijinx.
- An episode of Mister Ed used "puss" to refer to the eye.
- A news report on ABC news after JFK was shot, where a reporter is asked about the trip there:
Bill Lord: You were here and in the motorcade as it left Love Field. Can you describe to us what happened?
Bob Clark: Yes, I believe we have some more film coming up of the start of the motorcade from the airport. The rather long journey down into downtown Dallas. This was a gay scene... throughout the entire distance.
- Sesame Street had Oscar The Grouch singing "I Love Trash", where he lists off prized items in his garbage collection, including "a rusty trombone". Since that phrase is now a term for a sex act, that lyric can cause an immature giggle or two. It may or may not help that he holds up the musical instrument in question (though the prop is actually a trumpet) when that line comes up.
- Fanny Craddock was a famous television chef in Britain during the fifties and sixties. In one programme she taught viewers how to make ring doughnuts. After the programme, the announcer spoke a line still played on clip-shows to this day: "I hope all your doughnuts come out like Fanny's."
- Arrested Development:
- It had repeated jokes about this when Buster was preparing to go off to war.
- Lampshaded in the episode "Notapusy", which bleeped out the words "fag" and "pussy" even in non-offensive contexts.
- This is part of Tobias's character, even though he may actually be gay.
- Parodied in an 'Allo 'Allo! episode where Colonel Strohm and Lieutenant Gruber are dreading the thought of participating in the Invasion of Britain:
Strohm: What about Manchester? They eat faggots for breakfast!
Gruber: Such a barbaric place...
- The character on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains who was named Boner. No wonder you never see that show in reruns...
- By the time that was on, only among TV writers was the older definition still prevalent.
- When new producers took over midway through the first season, one of their first acts was to give Boner the name "Richard Stabone" to provide a non-obscene explanation for his nickname.
- It makes you wonder why they chose that name, considering the most common nickname for Richard is "Dick..."
- This is one of the jokes that occurs Once per Episode on Are You Being Served?: Mrs Slocombe uses "pussy" to refer exclusively to a cat — specifically, her own. Everybody else, on the other hand, has the modern meaning firmly in mind when it's said, leading to TMI-type thoughts.
- David Baddiel did a routine about Grace and Favour (the short-lived 1990s AYBS revival), and how younger people, who only think that "pussy" means "vagina", wouldn't understand the innuendo, and would think that the show was "incredibly rude".; (ringing up the BBC to complain); "Excuse me, but Molly Sugden has just appeared on my TV and said that her gash is dripping!"
- Parodied wonderfully in this A Bit of Fry and Laurie sketch.
- In Angel, Wesley uses "dicks" to describe the members of Angel Investigations while riding in Angel's car. Gunn finds this offensive, and lampshades television production standards by warning Wesley not to say the word again.
- Another example: Illyria states in one episode that she and Wesley are "no longer having intercourse." She then clarifies a moment later that he has stopped speaking to her (intercourse meaning "conversation").
- Not surprisingly, Three's Company played with this, given the role Jack was playing with the landlords. A most memorable time was, when asked directly in a court case, "Are you gay?" Jack replies, "Well, sometimes, but I can be sad sometimes too."
- Occurs several times (often intentional) in Dads Army, usually courtesy of Lance Corporal Jones.
"And that was the noise he ejaculated while he was being flogged, sir!"
- Used deliberately in Blackadder a few times. Sometimes it's apparently just to sound archaic ("The streets have never been so gay!"), but at least once it is deliberately used as a double entendre:
Prince George: Marry? Never! I'm a gay bachelor, Blackadder!
- It's particularly prevalent in the final series, especially with George's lines 'Ready to give the Hun a taste of British spunk' etc.
- Blackadder Goes Forth has some great fun with old-fashioned phrases which now sound, well, a bit pervy. A terrific moment in "General Hospital" is when Stephen Fry's General Melchett informs Blackadder that after his undercover work, "Captain Darling will pump you thoroughly in the debriefing room!" (to "pump" someone at the time meaning to question them for information); Blackadder (whose mentality was always strangely modern) replies with, "Not while I have my strength, he won't."
- For his part, Captain Darling reacts with indignation indicating that he understands Blackadder's meaning.
- Then there's the episode where Melchett falls in love with George in drag. Blackadder is highly amused when he says George "has more spunk than most women."
- These are certainly not ony deliberate but period-accurate double entendres. Spunk's meaning was already what it is well before the Great War.
- Used in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. During an interview with a baseball player, another reporter refers to Les Nesman as a "Queer fellow" (meaning "odd"). The baseball player misunderstands, and gets Les banned from the locker room. Les then attempts to kill himself, by jumping off the building, until someone explains the error to the baseball player.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 once featured a 1950s short film called "Out of This World," in which an angel and a devil fight over a bread deliveryman's soul. The devil was named Red, and the angel was named... Whitey. And yes, Crow promptly greeted her with "Hey, WHITEY!!!"
- Another '50s short ("Using Your Voice", shown during the Earth vs. the Spider episode) has an elderly narrator explaining the importance of enunciating clearly. He tells the viewers that they "must be pleasing" and at one point advises them to "use plenty of lip and tongue action", leading to nervous laughter from Servo.
- Yet another has the narrator talk about his boyfriend- that is, friend that's a boy. Joel and the bots get a couple good riffs out of it
- It's bad enough that Winky in Manhunt in Space refers to his little black book and "the gay nightlife", he has to follow it up a few minutes later with "We'd rather ride the rocket". Joel has to tell the bots to shush.
- Lets just say it comes up a lot. A lot of the features and shorts they riff come are decades older than the show.
- In The Brady Bunch episode "The Big Sprain", Sam the butcher wants to take Alice to a dance known as the "Meat Cutters Ball". Umm, OK. In that same episode, Alice says she has the "gayest nose in town" when Sam brings her a nosegay.
- Parodied in Grace Under Fire: Grace's ex-husband Jimmy found out at this father's funeral that he was a closeted homosexual. He asks Grace if he could "turn out to be gay" as well and she messes with him by asking him a series of questions about music taste and the like until she says "Yup, you're as gay as they were in 1890!". To which Jimmy replies "THAT gay?"
- The episode "Wordplay" of The Twilight Zone has an interesting twist on this trope, where within a day all words suddenly change their meaning, leaving the main character with a garbled vocabulary, invoking this trope with every word.
- Used deliberately in the Season 6 live episode of 30 Rock: "I'm Dr. Leo Spaceman. I'm known in the industry as the gay doctor because I always have a smile on my face - because I have so many homosexual lovers."
- Invoked in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where two characters have different understandings of the word "gay".
Biggles: Are you gay?
Algy: I should very well say so, old fruit!
- M*A*S*H: In "Five O'clock Charlie," Trapper, Hawkeye and Radar make fun of Frank's attempt to establish a squadron to combat the inept titular bomber pilot. When Trapper calls "Count off," there is a pause for a few seconds, then Radar turns to Hawkeye and asks "Are you one?" Hawkeye minces "Yes...are you?"
- Frasier: In second season episode "Retirement is Murder", Daphne once mentions to Frasier how Martin "knocked her up" that morning. When Frasier seems momentarily alarmed and asks her to repeat that, she clarifies that it means "woke her up."
Daphne: It's an English expression. What does it mean here?
Frasier: Oh, something else. You'd definitely be awake for it, though.
- This portion of dialogue, while amusing, is technically Fridge Logic as "knocked up" is a fairly common slang term in the UK, meaning almost exactly what it does in America (literally "unplanned pregnancy").
- Still used in its "wake me up in the morning" sense in the North of England, especially around Manchester, so perfectly correct for Daphne; the producers did their homework here.
- Also, Frasier and Lilith prove how unworldly they are by naming their son Frederick Gaylord Crane. Yes, he'll have an easy time of it at school... nothing to laugh at there.
- The IT Crowd - When Renholm compliments Jen on her character: 'You've got spunk, and balls, and I like that in a woman.'
- In The Nanny episode "Pishke Business", Fran Fine has to pretend she's C.C. Babcock, Maxwell Sheffield's business partner, to win over a potential investor, and to prepare Fran, C.C. gives her a big binder with biographical info:
C.C.: (flipping through pages) Where I grew up, went to prep school, when I came out...
C.C.: My coming-out party, Miss Fine.
Fran: I know, I heard you. You know, now you and your special friend can dance together at Disneyland!