In most Western countries, the appearance of bare breasts on TV isn't particularly unusual, being common on European TV as early as the 1960s. In North America however, the idea of a flashed nipple will stir controversy, as it happened with the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in 2004, when Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" resulted on the American CBS and the Canadian Global networks being forced into paying huge fines, as well as having further effects on North American TV censorship. International reactions were more of "What's all the fuss about?" kind.
The use of "blue language" tends to vary between regions: English-speaking countries are quite stringent about uttering anything stronger than "damn"—In the UK, said language is mostly prohibited before 9 p.m. on terrestrial TVnote Mostly in the way that it is highly discouraged, the slightest slip of the tongue at tea-time will be the headline of the following day's tabloids, while in the U.S. and Canada, this is basically verboten on broadcast TV and basic cablenote ABC was supposed to broadcast Saving Private Ryan unedited in 2004, but backed out after the aforementioned SB scandal. Meanwhile, most other Western countries are rather lenient with certain words, such as "shit", while stronger words such as "fuck" are often only permitted at night-time.
Stand-up comedy, especially when a performer is translating their act from stage to TV, gets hit pretty hard with this trope; some jokes that may have been fine even ten years ago would not fly today. Big names in comedy in The '60s and The '70s such as Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson were particularly vilified since the 1990s. Manning's career never really recovered after he was ambushed on TV on a spoof chat show, and incited into making seriously racist and homophobic references which were a large part of his stand-up routine. Again, as with Bill Oddie, this was a case of a man who simply did not realise the world had moved on and outside a circle of devoted fans, his humour wasn't thought of as acceptable in the mainstream (as well as TV) any more. Meanwhile other comics such as Roy "Chubby" Brown simply didn't care and took Refuge in Audacity.
The treatment of transgender people in general is a big example of this. For years, their very existence had been used as a comedy punchline, particularly transgender women who are frequently misgendered and seen as little more than men in dresses. If a trans character appeared in a show, they would be played by a cisgendered actor, be the butt of jokes, and the audience would be expected to agree with other characters' disgust and/or outrage at "being deceived". Throughout the 2010s, being trans has become much more acceptable and trans issues are increasingly visible (particularly among younger people), and any show that makes the kind of jokes that were perfectly acceptable as little as ten years ago would provoke huge outrage.
In 1972, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley produced a short-lived game show called The Amateur's Guide to Love. It had a Candid Camera-eqsue premise with a van secretly observing unsuspecting lovers using hidden cameras. If this show was tried today, people would be up in arms about being watched and exploited on national television. The idea of using a van to do so won't sit well due to it having other implicationsthese days.
The Andy Griffith Show has a first-season episode revolve around Ellie trying to make over a tomboy farm girl. Her not wearing makeup or dresses is treated like Serious Business, but can still be somewhat forgiven since she wants to try those things out. The real Values Dissonance hits in the ending. Her father complains that she can't help with the chores dressed like that, until the farmhands start hitting on her. Andy then tells him that, since she's a girl, she isn't any good at hard labor (despite the opposite being shown about ten minutes earlier), but now that she's been made over, she can be used to land him a son-in law.
Are You Being Served? has many, many examples through the 1970s of poking fun at the culture or speech patterns of foreigners that today seem shocking in their prejudice.
Not to mention Mr. Humphries. Possibly averted in that reactions from the other characters, if any, are generally incredulous, not homophobic, and in the later seasons, they're downright supportive.
Arrow: In the second episode of Season 3, the gang is illicitly burying a person. Felicity takes a handful of dirt and tosses it on top of the coffin. Upon spotting the confusion on everyone else's faces, she explains that it's a Jewish custom. The scene falls flat for British audiences because the mainstream British funerary custom is for the closest people to the deceased to toss the first handfuls of soil onto the coffin before the grave is filled in. In Britain, Felicity's act therefore does not stand out as unusual, but the behaviour of the characters creates a dissonance between what a British audience would expect to see at a funeral and what the show's creators apparently think an American audience would expect to see.
There are many ethnic stereotypes on the show, mainly found in the form of the bad guys (usually either loud, raucous, stupid Hispanic bandits in Latin America or New York-ish Italian gangsters in L.A.) and some of the A-Team's disguises. Hannibal's most referenced comic disguise is a Chinese Launderer (which even appears in the opening credits of the first season), and in another episode he and Murdock have to disguise themselves as Native American warriors, complete with whooping. While ethnic stereotypes may not be eliminated from media, such blatant examples would never show up on TV today, except in parody.
While even this probably wouldn't fly today, the trope got a cursory nod in an episode in the first season where Hannibal briefly disguised himself as a black bellhop. He and B.A. had a light-hearted exchange over the quality of it:
Hannibal: Remember, black is beautiful! B.A.: Not on you it ain't.
Today, Hannibal probably couldn't constantly refer to the Girl of the Week as "lady" and definitely couldn't disguise himself in blackface, and Face probably couldn't get away with statements like, "you know these co-eds - lost without a man to guide them" or "Now I'm about to chauffeur a spoiled heiress to some sandlot of a country so she can marry some guy with a towel wrapped around his head."
Banzai, a late-night spoof on Japanese TV gameshows and the East Asian tendency to bet on just about anything, was cult viewing in Britain. Funny turned-up-to-eleven Japanese presenters preside over escalatingly ridiculous bets in a show deliberately filmed to evoke the worst excesses of Japanese TV, and it was viewed as light-hearted fun in the UK. Not so on export. Canadian TV was forced to pull the show on "racism" grounds after sustained protest from East Asian groups, and Japanese-American protest killed both the original show and a local remake in the USA.
Babylon 5 has a running joke in the first season where every time Talia Winters enters an elevator, Mr. Garibaldi is inside waiting for her with a happy grin. Talia actually comments on this and seems quite freaked out. In the mid '90s this might have seemed to just cast Garibaldi as playfully persistent, if a little bit of a jerk, but rewatching it in the 2010s, this actually comes off as stalking or harassment, especially given that Garibaldi is Head of Security and, since he turns up every time Talia summons the elevator, is presumably monitoring Talia's movements. Happily, this one can be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness as well, as Garibaldi's character and behavior change and develop as quickly as the second season.
Batman: The episode "Nora Clavicle and the Ladies Crime Club" comes off as quite anti-feminist when watching it today. The eponymous villain is a Straw Feministin the extreme, who replaces the cops of Gotham City with women, who are depicted as totally inept note They care more about their makeup, recipes, and shopping than actually solving crimes. , and her plan revolves around using Eek, a Mouse!! played straight. Although both Batgirl and Nora herself are depicted as capable, the other women are not. And the dialogue of several of the characters, Commissioner Gordon & Chief O'Hara especially, comes off as sexist; the show could get a pass due to it being campy and therefore not meant to be taken seriously, but it's still a little cringey to watch. Then there's the way Batman and Robin themselves talk to Batgirl sometimes can be seen this way, with them repeatedly telling her to "leave the crime fighting to the men", sometimes not even thanking her for saving their lives but chiding her for being late. She is also often the one to get knocked out first in fights or get captured.
Bat Mastersonnote set in the 1870s has an episode where a woman is spanked for her crimes, which even in 1959 was common in prison. Today, that kind of punishment would’ve been grounds for a lawsuit.
The show has an episode where a woman comes into the police station distraught and says she's been raped. When it turns out that it was her husband, it's treated as a big joke and she learns her lesson that she should put out. Words cannot describe how cringe-inducing this is now, with the public increasingly sympathetic to rape victims and marital rape being taken just as seriously nowadays as other types of rape.
Barney Miller also has recurring characters Marty and Darryl, an older gay couple complete with effeminate mannerisms (although Darryl is not as flamboyant as Marty) and "hand-crocheted sweaters". They're overdone even for the 70s, but to the show's credit, they are never ridiculed outright or treated any worse than any of the other "eccentric" characters in the station.
A later episode has the 12th get involved in a child custody dispute between Darryl and his ex-wife. While Marty is as Camp Gay as ever, Darryl is very much Straight Gay, asking Marty if they can drop the stereotype for the moment, given the situation.
In direct contrast to Marty and Darryl, later seasons introduce the recurring character of Officer Zatelli, a Straight Gay uniform accidentally outed by Wojo. Tellingly, even the malevolent Internal Affairs detective lamely denies any wish to punish gay cops. Viewers can see little signs of social progress as the show goes on.
The second season episode "Heat Wave" is made of values dissonance from start to finish. The main plot mines its "comedy" from Wojo almost being raped while dressing in drag to catch muggers, and Detective Wentworth being offended that the would-be rapist pushed her aside. The main subplot, meanwhile, involves a battered wife deciding whether or not to sign a complaint against her husband, lots of jokes from Fish about how a relationship involving an abusive husband and a wife who just takes it "works," and a studio audience clearly rooting for her to drop the charges.
Bewitched: There's a lot of casual sexism, even though the show tried to be progressive in other areas (depicting Willie Mays as a warlock for example). Darrin and Larry are often rather chauvinist. In one instance, even Endora is convinced that Darrin is having an affair because his current client happens to be an attractive businesswoman, and presumably she can't imagine why he would wine and dine her the way he would a male client. The series' sexism is codified in the rule that Witch Magic cannot overrule Warlock Magic. Period. Meaning that the weakest Warlock is stronger than the strongest witch, just because. Made overt by the episode where Samantha persuades a milquetoast Henpecked Husband Warlock to stand up to his harpy of a wife. Once he decides to assert himself, her most powerful curses can't affect him. And of course, the wife sees his new assertiveness as arousing and immediately takes a more subservient stance towards him.
The UK and US versions differ in what's emphasised. The US and Canadian versions emphasise the gameplay, whereas the UK opts for entertainment instead.
Earlier seasons of the UK version contain plenty of casual homophobia from the contestants. Mickey Dalton from the 7th Season outright says in his introduction video that he hates gays. Note that this was not too many years before the celebrity version of the show was met with a storm of controversy over Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara's apparent racist bullying of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. These days, homophobia and racism are practically mutually exclusive where the media is concerned.
Bones: The premiere episode has several characters question main character Brennan about how she's dealing with her parents' murder, and admonish her for not sharing her feelings about it. In other countries (and even among many people in the U.S.) where more emphasis is culturally placed on privacy, even asking such personal questions would be considered incredibly rude behavior.
The oft-circulated clip where the parents talk about the mall Santa having a fatal heart attack while their kindergarten-aged daughter was sitting on his knee (the parents joke about the reindeer pulling a pine box). A sitcom today wouldn't do this, as many places in the UK and USA have banned children from sitting on the laps of mall Santas because of sexual molestation and pedophilia fears.
Another episode has Cory videotaping the school interviewing random students, and when Feeny is shown, he quickly says he doesn't want to know why he's doing that. In recent years, a lot of schools have disciplinary action towards videotaping and taking pictures of students and school interiors without prior consent from a faculty member.
One episode has Feeny scheduling 3 exams on the same day in order to get people studying harder. The class stresses out and starts studying to borderline burnout (bar Cory and Shawn, who procrastinate). Mr. Turner and the kids try to get him to spread the dates out a little bit so it's not such a stress on them. In the end, they learn Feeny was right to put the tests so close together, because now they know the material rather than just memorizing it for the test. While the moral of having to learn something rather than just remember it for the test is good, Feeny's actions of putting the tests so close together ages very poorly, as in recent years stress levels, burnouts, and self-harm incidents related to schoolwork have increased exponentially in high school students, and studies have proven this type of stress is detrimental to their mental health.
In "A Clubhouse is Not a Home", Mike is asked what he would do if his sons wanted to play with a dollhouse. He answers by saying he'd take them to see a psychiatrist. If the show aired in The New '10s, gender rights advocates would demand that Mike be the one to see the psychiatrist for making a comment like that.
"A Fistful of Reasons", where Cindy is targeted by a bully because she talks with a lisp. The Bradys never think to take the problem to the school, which is standard procedure today, and the boy's father thinks it's normal for kids to pick on other kids. Sadly, some parents still do think that way, but it's highly likely that things in the episode would be seen differently now, when bullying is taken far more seriously and more people are aware of the potential consequences. It's also worth noting that Peter could possibly have been suspended along with the bully for the fight, given many schools' no-tolerance policies about fighting these days.
"My Sister, Benedict Arnold" has a scene where Marcia, who is in eighth grade at the time of this episode (fall 1971), is asked out by a boy, Warren Mullaney, in Greg's class, Greg and Warren being high school sophomores. Carol, upon Marcia telling her Warren had asked her out, chuckles, smiles and says approvingly, "Next, it'll be college students." Alice, who is sitting with Carol, also nods approvingly. Today, more than 45 years later, not only would Carol and Mike say no, but Mike would likely warn Warren to stay the hell away from his family or else.
In the same episode, Greg dates Kathy Lawrence, an eighth grader in Marcia's class. Today, Mr. Lawrence, if he found out about Greg even talking to her, would likely blow his stack, and that's even if Mike would have explained to Greg why his dating a junior high student isn't a good idea.
"Cyrano de Brady": Greg's handling of getting an unwanted crush (Kerry, a seventh-grade girl who was in Peter's class) off his back and re-direct her to Peter. At one point, he agrees to go along with Kerry, but then advances on her (in a misguided attempt to scare her off). Mike and Carol watch from afar but don't intervene, even when it appears Greg is about to seduce Kerry. Today, they would step right in and stop it immediately. Additionally, even though Greg, by now a high school junior, had made it clear he has no interest in Kerry, even the implication that he was associated romantically with someone barely into junior high would land him in hot water.
The Season 4 episode "Bobby's Hero", where at the beginning of the episode, Mike and Carol are called to the school after Bobby (off-screen) brings a toy gun to school and plays outlaw Jesse James, annoying and harassing classmates by "holding them hostage." Indeed, as late as the 1970s and even into the 1980s, bringing a toy gun - while a definite no-no - gets the culprit off with little more than a stern warning to never do it again. Today, Mike and Carol would be fighting a losing battle to keep Bobby in school, let alone get him enrolled in even any alternative school.
The British series Broadchurch required slightly changing some characters' ages for its American remake Gracepoint, thanks to the age of consent being two years higher. Thus, a couple where the boy is 17 and the girl 15 was changed to 18 and 16 so Americans would accept the difference being a big deal to the girl's parents, and Jack's statutory rape charge is from a girl about to turn 18 rather than 16.
This seems to be a common misconception, a result of SoCalization, even amongst Americans. The age of consent in 30 states is in fact 16, which makes up the majority of the US. 8 states have 17, and 12 states have 18, including California, which is also where Hollywood happens to be, hence the widespread misconception.
Willow snaps after Warren kills her girlfriend. She reacts by researching dark magic, healing Buffy (who was also shot), taking the bullet that was used and hunting down and torturing Warren, before he was flayed alive. The show treats it as Willow falling to evil, but for some viewers of the time it was hard to see what exactly she does that's so wrong. The idea that torture is morally acceptable against bad people is definitely a modern issue of values dissonance, as some people think that makes perfect sense but others are absolutely horrified.
The first two versions of Card Sharks which aired from 1978-81 and 1986-89 respectively have high-low questions asked to 100 people which have contestants judging human nature. Some of these questions would be overtly sexist if asked in the present time. Imagine the looks the poll-taker would receive if he asked female executives, "Has your boss ever patted you on the fanny?" these days.
David gives up his pet turtle so that a turtle soup can be made in order to cure Fermin from his illness. Carrusel took place in Mexico in 1989-1990. Not only would sacrificing a pet turtle have been unacceptable in the USA back then (and in the present day), but someone suggesting turtle soup as a cure to an illness would have at the very least raised a lot of eyebrows.
All but one of the female characters are afraid of mice. The girl who was not, Valeria, was seen as gutsy and adventurous overall. In the USA, by 1989-1990, it would have been likelier to just have one individual female be murophobic, and the murophobia being seen as an irrational sign of weakness.
El Chavo del ocho, probably one of the most popular and iconic TV shows in all of Latin America, dubbed into several languages and exported to many countries, is full of this. Produced in the 70s, many jokes and situations are considered very inappropriate by modern standards.
Many Acceptable Targets of the time include mocking Doña Clotilde because she is (or looks like she is) a senior citizen and calling her a witch because of that, mocking people because of their physical appearances, particularly Señor Barriga's and Ñoño's obesity, but basically any "ugly" physical trait (Don Ramon’s thinness, Chilindrinas's size, etc.) earns the character a humiliating nickname. By today's standards that is considered very disrespectful to the adults and bullying to the kids (notice that basically all of Chespirito's sketch characters rely on mocking physical appearances at some point, including Chapulin, Chompiras and Dr. Chapatin, but doing it among adults probably has lesser impact).
Physical violence as a way to correct the kids, particularly used by Don Ramon who practically harms all of the children in La Vecindad in some way, including spanking his own daughter and bonking his surrogate son Chavo on the head, and all of this is Played for Laughs! Granted, he is the only adult doing this, and even Señor Barriga and Profesor Jirafales (frequent victims of the kid's slapstick violence) don't do it and in fact reprehend Don Ramon for doing it. Still, even though physical punishment for kids is still common in some parts of the world, the practice has fallen into disuse and is socially unacceptable in the most progressive areas, so in modern times it's unthinkable for a comedy to show it as "funny".
Homophobic jokes. Many jokes in the show cast homosexuality in a negative light, and implying that someone is gay is an insult. In one episode, Don Ramón and Profesor Jirafales are mistaken for homosexuals (actually Don Ramon is educating Jirafales on how to win over a woman), and when Don Ramon comes closer to El Chavo (an eight-year-old kid, in universe) Chavo's reactions are of fear and disgust, even violently avoiding Don Ramon’s touch. Meanwhile, Doña Florinda violently breaks up with Jirafales and the rest of Vecindad reacts similarly with anger. Also, Don Ramon’s Catch-Phrase “Yo le voy al Necaxa” (I support the Necaxa) is a reference to the fact that he is not gay (fans of the Necaxa's rival team, the Puebla, were considered “gay”).
In his defense, Chespirito did change many of this in latter seasons. For example, a lot of the violence, like Botija slapping Chompiras as punishment or Doña Florinda slapping Don Jaimito (Don Ramon’s Suspiciously Similar Substitute), was taken out, the jokes about physical appearances were downplayed and, although until his death he was strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, the show became much more respectful toward gay people.
All the females in the show are afraid of mice - even the tough-as-nails Dona Florinda and the tomboy-ish Chilindrina. By the 1970s, in the USA, this was no longer the norm - as evidenced by an episode of the Brady Bunch, where Cindy and Emma are clearly not afraid of mice. In Mexico it was still commonly thought at the time that all women were afraid of mice simply because of their gender.
Clive James on TV, the ur-show behind Banzai', where the laconic Australian TV critic presented an hour of the very worst of other people's television, culled from no shortage of worldwide examples. Excessively sexual (and often edited) French and German adverts rub shoulders with American televangelists and especially James' bete-noir. But a programme designed to reinforce the conceit of the British that they have the best TV in the world, and everyone else's is to varying degrees crap, or just plain weird... It is interesting that some of the examples held up as other people's crap in the 1980s—depths which British broadcasting of the time would never ever plumb, such as Jerry Springer-type trashfests or over-night cheap phone quizzes that give up any pretence of broadcasting quality or excellence—are now staples of British broadcasting.
The show had a particular knack for poking fun at Japanese game shows where contestants are humiliated, psychologically assaulted and even physically tormented in search of a handful of yen. Clive James, a man whose father had been murdered by the Japanese in a WW2 death camp, stopped short of any explicit statement of personal disdain.
Comes up in a few episodes of Cold Case, due to the often-substantial time lapse between the victim's death and the case being reopened.
Columbo: In one episode, the title character, in using deductive reasoning to re-enact the scene of a crime, describes the socially acceptable way for a man to hit a woman: he doesn't punch her the way he would a man, he just slaps her across the face.
Communityinvokes this when Troy and Abed, hosting a housewarming party in their new apartment, discuss a 1940s guidebook which they consulted for hints on how to act like appropriate hosts. The first piece of advice is "dress to impress." The second is "avoid touchy subjects like the Negro problem."
CSI has an interesting case of values changing over a relatively short time. One of the first episodes (airing in 2000) concerns the case of a murdered college dean who had been killed by two of his female colleagues to stop him from releasing reputation-destroying information about them. The bloodcurdling secret? The girls are dating each other. In The New '10s, as gay characters become more mainstream in the media and the gay rights movement continues to pick up steam in Real Life, it's... doubtful that'd be considered something worth committing murder over. The first few seasons have many similar cases where the motive is to hide the fact that oneself or a family member is/was gay, which strike many people nowadays as strange. It's telling that the number of cases with this as a motive dropped significantly as the show moved into The New '10s, when being gay was no longer such a big deal.
One episode from 2004 ("Ch-Ch-Changes") has the twist that the victim is a male-to-female transgender. In The New '10s the plot comes off as cringe-inducingly transphobic. Even the main characters, who purportedly respect the victim and have no issue with transexuality, come off as remarkably ignorant and disrespectful just over a decade later. The episode has the victim lying about being transgender, and her forms of ID (like drivers' license and registration) that still have her male name and picture on them are written off as being her brother's, which comes off as strange in a day and age where being transgender has more mainstream acceptance and people in the process of transitioning are more open about their previous identities.
The first two prominent transgender characters seen on the show are both mentally ill villains, being respectively an Evil GeniusSerial Killer with an Oedipus Complex and a crazy back-alley surgeon who performs unlicensed gender reassignment operations resulting in at least one death and several permanent disfigurements (the latter is the antagonist of the aforementioned "Ch-Ch-Changes"). It took until season five for an LGBT character who was neither a villain nor a victim to appear.
The Danny Thomas Show: In the episode "Terry at the Crossroads," Danny is worried because his daughter Terry is mostly interested in sports, and a boy she likes doesn't seem to see her as a pretty girl that he should ask to a dance. Danny tries to tell her how she can be more feminine, including the advice "A girl's job on Earth is to make the man feel like a big, important, strong somebody." Terry finally can't take it anymore and snaps, "You men think the whole world revolves around you! Well I've got news for you, this isn't a man's world anymore, it's also a woman's world! And I have a perfect right to dress the way I want to and to live the way I want to! And I don't have to go around drooling over boys just to make them feel important!" It's pretty impressive (especially considering it was made in 1957). But then in the next scene, when the boy Terry likes comes to pick her up for bowling, she comes out in a dress (she'd been wearing sweatshirts and pants up till then) and says she doesn't want to go bowling. She acts flirtatious and fawning, just the way Danny told her to, for no clear reason at all. It's presented as a happy ending that she turns her back on the things she likes so a boy will like her more.
Dead Like Me: Our heroine George spends the first half of the pilot endlessly complaining about her mind-numbing office job. Post-recession, her whining about having a job is rather less sympathetic than it used to be, especially since the best thing she has on her resume is "some college."
Degrassi High: Michelle's character arc no longer plays remotely like it did in 1990. She moves out of her house at age 16 to escape a reactionary father who doesn't want her to go out with friends after school, or to date (especially not a Black boy). She has mixed feelings about him - he's a bully, but he means well and he has trouble changing his old-fashioned ways. Eighteen years later, when the standards of what's acceptable for American and Canadian teens have changed, he seems utterly evil, and his attempts to make peace seem like a Manipulative Bastard softening her up for the kill.
Degrassi Junior High also twice portrays sexual assault with a quite victim-blamey undertone that would not wash today. Most notably in the episode "What a Night", where Stephanie's subplot where she suffers Date Rape Averted from a soap star is mostly played as An Aesop about "not getting into risky situations", because she agreed to go on a date with him in the first place, and lied about her age (itself an example of Values Dissonance, as she claims to be sixteen rather than fourteen, which to many audience members seems hardly much better). The soap star himself is a complete Karma Houdini. Contrast this with the Degrassi: The Next Generation episode "Shout", where Paige is date raped at a party by an older boy, and a lot of emphasis is placed on the fact that Paige's behaviour, including drinking, flirting with the perpetrator, and even asking to go upstairs, does not mean the assault was her fault. There's also the infamous scene in "Taking Off" where Wheels is molested by a man who picks him up hitchhiking. This never comes up again, leading viewers to conclude it was only included in the episode as an example of the terrible things that will happen to you if you hitchhike.
Snake's extremely cold initial reaction to his brother coming out as gay in "He Ain't Heavy..." seems a lot less sympathetic nowadays, where gay acceptance is much more widespread, especially coming from Snake. However he does come around in the end, alleviating this somewhat. Harder to accept is the fact the Simpson parents disown Snake's brother at the end of the episode, which is portrayed as a bad thing, but somewhat understandable. To a modern audience, this is almost a Moral Event Horizon, and the fact Snake's relationship with his parents is unchanged after this seems deeply odd.
The Dick Van Dyke Show has Sally Rogers, who spends virtually the entire series trying to catch a husband, but failing because she is too forward and funny. An early episode, when she is talking brashly to Laura's meek cousin, has Rob opining that "any normal man would have punched her in the face." Yeesh.
Rob and Laura also have separate beds similar to the I Love Lucy example.
When Laura and Rob discover that their marriage may not be valid, Rob talks of having to sleep in the den.
One episode has Rob and Laura try to set up Sally and one of Laura's friend with a man, only for him to reveal he doesn't want to commit too because he's been married twice before and both women left because he used to hit them. Rob and Laura are stunned... That he's been married before.
In the very first episode, 1963's "An Unearthly Child", the Doctor explains the humans' disbelief of the TARDIS to his granddaughter thusly: "Remember the Red Indian. When he saw the first steam train, his savage mind thought it an illusion too." As though the "savage mind" business wasn't enough, "Red Indian" is generally considered a seriously racist epithet these days.
The Doctor threatening to give Susan a "jolly good smacked bottom" in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is pretty jarring, as popular attitudes towards child rearing have changed from a disciplinarian approach to a supportive approach, and because serious smacking was banned in the UK in 2004. Not to mention, Susan's sixteen... It fits the Doctor's character as being old-fashioned and not a very good grandfather, but the fact that it's played for laughs is not possible today.
The First Doctor finding Nero's sexual abuse of women in "The Romans" funny and harmless (saying "what an extraordinary fellow!" as he sees Nero chasing an underdressed, screaming women down a corridor) is also something that would never fly in a children's programme nowadays. It works well today as Black Comedy, though.
The First Doctor makes a rather racist comment in "The Daleks Master Plan" as a punchline to a comedy sequence that would absolutely never be allowed on the screen today:
Doctor: This place is a madhouse, it's all full of Arabs! Come on, let's go.
In "The Celestial Toymaker", the King of Hearts casually uses an older version of the "Eenie Meenie Miney Mo" rhyme which uses the N-word in place of "tiger". When the BBC released an audio reconstruction of it later (due to it being a Missing Episode), some narration is added in which has the effect of a Sound-Effect Bleep.
In fact, this entire serial is based on a pretty racist stereotype. "Celestial," as well as meaning "of the stars," is also an older term for oriental or Chinese. The Celestial Toymaker is played by a white actor in a vintage Mandarin costume, played very much as a sinister, inscrutable Asian stereotype.
There's an extremely upsetting moment in "The War Machines" where Polly and Dodo go to a club, where Polly acts as a kind of icebreaker. While being friendly to the patron Ben, a man pins Polly up against a wall and says some creepy things. She tells him "Please, take your hand away" in a firm voice, meaning he puts his other hand on her. Ben leaps out of his chair and beats him up on her behalf, but afterwards yells at Polly for it, telling her she should be careful who she encourages, even though she encouraged him in absolutely no way beyond being a pretty woman and existing. It's quite possible the sexism is Intentional Values Dissonance - Polly is shown to be exasperated by the patronising attitude her boss subjects her to at work. Also, the Doctor had been travelling around with companions from the future for a while, both of whom are shown to have no gender prejudices.
Jon Pertwee-era episodes have an occasional undercurrent of antifeminism, containing Straw Feminist characters and having the Doctor put them in their place. The writers and actors were generally at least feminist-sympathetic (Elisabeth Sladen in particular likes to soften the worst of the Doctor's manhandling and verbal abuse by giggling at him in such a way as to make it look like consensual teasing), but few were able to resist poking fun at perceived Acceptable Targets, and some writers made it clear in their scripts that they didn't know what feminism actually is, assuming it's about women being in charge or men being inferior. The Tom Baker era eased up on this a lot, due to fewer Earth-bound settings and because Tom disliked playing Tall, Dark, and Snarky and adlibbed his way out of his nastier scripted lines - but there's still moments. The scene in "The Ark in Space" where the Doctor bellows sexist insults at Sarah in order to snap her out of a panic is particularly difficult to watch - Tom Baker has often expressed discomfort and embarrassment about playing the scene, and even that is heavily toned down from the scripted version, which is longer and meaner.
Carrying from above, there's a pretty uncomfortable part in "The Ark in Space" where the Doctor explains his plan to see the dead Wirrn's memories through connecting psychically to a part of its eye. He relates it to something that "Gypsies" used to believe. Compare and contrast to a scene referencing this in the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Crimson Horror", where the Doctor points out that the belief is rubbish without linking it to a specific racial epithet.
The serial "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" features a Fu Manchu-like Chinese villain played by a Caucasian actor in yellowface with a campy Chinese accent. While this was still acceptable practice in the UK in 1977, television stations in America, Canada, and elsewhere which imported the programme found this problematic enough to refrain from airing the serial. Although the moral of the story is against racism, it's easier to see why they thought it was acceptable when one considers it was made at a time when The Black And White Minstrel Show was also being aired as "harmless" family entertainment. Worse is that "Weng-Chiang" even goes so far as to have the Doctor join in with the racist jokes. Tom Baker performs the lines with as much Refuge in Audacity swagger as he can, as they're intended as a knowing part of the Yellow PerilExploitation Film genre Pastiche (British audiences in the 1970s were exposed to this sort of fiction through constant Hammer Horror reruns). Modern audiences tend not to find it coming off as ironic thanks to all the other racist things going on in the story, and many people (like Paul Cornell) find it upsettingly out of character.
You'll notice that the revival series of Doctor Who is much Hotter and Sexier, yet also a great deal less violent. This is partially due to how frequently the old series was criticised for Family-Unfriendly Violence (it's rarely gratuitous but is by a long way the most violent show the BBC had at time), and partially down to the increased budget (People in Rubber Suits are expensive, and fake blood and slime is not), but mostly due to British culture moving over the course of the '90s to consider funny or cuddly sexual content more child-suitable than violent content.
The revived series makes a point to be more racially diverse and culturally open than the original. Rose (a white woman), is originally dating Mickey (a black man), and both of Donna's fiances are black men also. Martha is a black med student. Jack is, well, Jack. This is lampshaded in the episode "The Sound of Drums", where the Master (currently Prime Minister of the U.K.) remarks that the Doctor's companions (Martha and Jack) "tick all the demographic boxes."
The Hartnell era bigotry is mocked in "Twice Upon A Time", in which the First Doctor makes bigoted remarks at the expense of women and the French, up to and including assuming Bill should be cleaning the Ship and being shocked to discover that she isn't a virgin. The Twelfth Doctor is mortified by this and keeps begging the First Doctor to stop. When the First Doctor even threatens to give Bill a "jolly good smacked bottom", as above, both Bill and the Twelfth Doctor assume it's a fetish thing and are both thoroughly creeped out.
Any sitcom by Dan Schneider could qualify, since in every one of them he shows scenes in which nerds are tortured for laughs. While this would go well in the US and UK due to the negative stereotypes attached to nerds there it would be Black Comedy to someone in places such as the Netherlands, where the nerd stereotype, although decently known, is not nearly seen as as bad as the ones that are commonly said in the US and UK. Inversely, there are also shows in those regions that pretend to appeal to nerds when they have a much larger demographic in mind (this is especially common in edutainment shows there, due to "nerds" being often associated with "science genius"). It could become quite difficult for someone in the US and UK to recognize that such a show has a demographic of not only nerds, but normal people as well.
As pointed out by Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall, the 1967 version of Dragnet is very much a product of its time, and there are occasions that will make modern viewers wince. One example given is a scene where the main heroes talk about homosexuality as a "major societal problem" on par with things like drug abuse. With LGBT people no longer being Acceptable Targets like were back in the 1960s, this of course comes off as pretty homophobic by modern standards.
Emergency!'s main character John Gage is of Native American descent. In an episode called "Peace Pipe," one of the other main characters begins relentlessly mocking him because of this. Gage is clearly upset, but the entire thing is played for laughs rather than recognized as, at best, arrogant insensitivity, and at worst, blatant racism.
Everyone in-universe is aghast at the idea of a 40-year-old man living with his parents, and act as if it's the most embarrassing and pathetic thing a man could do... except that in many cultures (including some minority communities in the U.S.), it's considered perfectly normal (and often fully expected) for the eldest child to do this.
The show, like many shows of the '80s and '90s, mocks the idea of an adult male enjoying comic books and sci-fi. Peter being a comic book fan (essentially, his being One of Us) is treated as if it's some sort of horrible deformity or character flaw, and the in-universe characters and the presumably baby boomer-aged studio audience members treat Peter's comic book fandom with derision. Younger generations don't place the same stigma against comics as the show apparently does.
And that's not even getting into the show's use of Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male; Debra's treatment of Ray (often involving things like Groin Attacks, Ray being tossed against bookshelves, and tons of condescending verbal abuse) is treated as being A-Okay and lovably wacky, while if Ray ever complains in the slightest about Debra, then he is treated as being "obviously wrong" in-universe, while Debra is portrayed as being some sort of martyr.
Fawlty Towers has an in-universeCrosses the Line Twice example in the classic dialogue where the elderly Major (who is slightly senile and blissfully unaware of the faux pas he's committing) is getting nostalgic about a girlfriend who he brought to a cricket match at Lords. He recalls he had to upbraid her about her use of unacceptable language (there's some real dissonance here as well: today the subject is considered by some to be too sensitive even to joke about, leading to the line being cut by the BBC in 2013 rebroadcasts):
"She kept referring to the Indians as niggers. 'No, no, no,' I said, 'the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs.'
Invoked with the episode "The Germans": the last third of the episode revolves around Basil being outrageously culturally insensitive to his blameless German guests. The masterstroke is that Basil is concussed, so the audience can excuse his character as being totally out of his right mind while still gleefully enjoying the utterly un-PC humour.
A season 3 Friends episode features a great example of values dissonance between countries. When Rachel takes Ross out to dinner with her father, Dr. Green pays for the entire meal but only puts out a 4% tip. He's portrayed as a jerk for both this, and for getting mad at Ross for leaving extra money on the table to pad out the tip. To viewers in the US, where waitstaff are often paid lower than minimum wage with customary tipping supposed to make up for it (usually about 15% of the total), Ross's outrage at the small tip makes sense. To viewers in other countries where restaurant wages are better regulated and tipping is just a courtesy (such as the UK), this is not common knowledge, and so Ross comes across as a jerk who's being unreasonable by expecting a man who just paid for a very expensive meal to pay even more for the tip. Also consider that many Americans subscribe to the philosophy of "You get the bill, we'll get the tip", so if someone in the group offers to pick up the tab, other members of the party agree to cover the tip.
One episode had a subplot about the three members of the group with less well-paying jobs (Rachel, Joey and Phoebe) being frustrated by the other three always taking them to eat out "someplace nice", not realizing they can't really afford the food. After they voice these concerns, Ross, Monica and Chandler later surprise them by arranging to take them out to an expensive restaurant, completely on them. This seems like a kind and selfless gesture to many viewers, but how do Rachel, Joey and Phoebe react? They're outraged, saying their gesture "makes them feel 'this big'" and refuse on principle, not wanting to be part of a "poor friends outreach program". To many viewers outside and even inside America, refusing a generous offer by your friends comes off as extremely rude, and what Ross, Monica and Chandler did would be considered friendly, not patronizing.
During its entire run, the show makes various gay jokes at Chandler, Ross and Joey's expenses. While the show tries to be respectful with the portrayal of a lesbian couple, a show with those jokes made nowadays would quickly receive backlash from the gay community and crooked looks from most viewers. The fact that Chandler watched E! and likes theater, and therefore must be gay, are not very well received by contemporary watchers, and is one of the main things that turn off new viewers from later generations.
Also relating to Chandler, Depending on the Writer, his animosity towards his father comes from the fact that his father left his family and the whole relationship is based on the divorce-child anger, or because he's embarrassed of his father being a gay crossdresser, putting Queer People Are Funny into effect. These days, these jokes would at best be outdated and at worst be considered homophobic or transphobic.
The Goldbergs (the 1920's-1950's series), as one of the first mainstream depictions of a Jewish family from a Jewish perspective, likely has quite a few even for its contemporary audience. Fleeing the Nazis is a perfectly normal explanation for why a distant cousin is Irish and doesn't elicit any reaction, while a woman finding out that neither the male nor female potential name for her grandkid is going to be after either of her late parents or her late in-laws is treated as if her kid had dismembered her dog right in front of her (the plot is resolved when her son-in-law explains that they had just chosen Americanized translations of the names). Another plot that has a similar level of anguish is when Sammy discovers that his new girlfriend has escaped from an asylum and that he'll have to trick her into returning for her own good (the episode ends with him getting off with her early to presumably live on the run, but the next episode is lost).
On The Golden Girls, which ran in the '80s and early '90s, the exact circumstances of Dorothy's first sexual experience fluctuate a little in each retelling because they're being described as part of a joke, but today, we know that she's describing a date rape. At one point she even says she was completely unconscious during the sex and suspects Stan must have drugged her, and her mother outright says she never believed her. For women who were growing up during the 50's, it's not any more alarming than "Baby It's Cold Outside", but nowadays it's a lot closer to Gallows Humor.
Another episode has Rose practicing abstinence due to a tradition/superstition in her hometown; Miles, her long-term boyfriend, uses a variety of "blue-balls" style excuses and harassment to cajole her into it. When it doesn't work, he throws a temper tantrum and dumps her because he assumes that since she won't have sex with him, she must be cheating. In the end, Rose is the one who has to apologize, and although it's implied that she could have told him the truth and he would have understood, that still conflicts with the modern idea that "No." is a complete sentence and one doesn't owe consent to someone just because they're in a relationship or have had sex in the past. For all the progressive attitudes this show had in its day, its ideas about rape and sexual pressure are some of the only areas where the characters' ages seemed to inform their values.
In 2015, the Russian TV channel VGTRK decided to make a Russian adaptation of the critically-acclaimed series Homeland. They used the US version as the primary source, instead of the Israeli original. It miserably flopped on many levels. The most obvious reason was the large difference in the perception of POWs between Russia and the US. Unlike the US, in Russia former POWs are never hailed as heroes, don't get public recognition and have absolutely zero chance of success in politics or PR stunts. Moreover, in the US version the FBI are skeptical and reluctant about Carrie's suspicions that Sergeant Brody may be up to no good, so she has to secretly probe him herself. This whole "problem" is absurd in Russia, because intense probing of a former POW is the first thing Russian secret services would do.
Similarly, the Russian version of Prison Break failed to connect with viewers because Russians generally feel no sympathy towards prison inmates, even ones who have been wrongfully acussed. And although Russia abolished the death penalty in the mid-'90s, public opinion is consistently in favor of it—so when the directors had the government reinstate the death penalty at the beginning of the show, viewers rejoiced rather than buy into the whole "we could execute an innocent man by mistake" premise.
Great Teacher Onizuka features a scene where Onizuka, in classic episode-climax speech style, tells his coworker Fuyutsuki essentially that it's her fault that another coworker drugged her and tried to rape her because she was leading him on. Fuyutsuki comes to school the next day in slacks instead of her usual business skirt. The Unfortunate Implications are toned down a bitnote Or maybe made worse by Onizuka telling her she looked cuter in a skirt, but still...
Gunsmoke has one episode in which Quint and Festus have to go to the next town over to buy supplies while playing a game of one-upsmanship on one another. While having a drinking contest at a saloon, and the inevitable Bar Brawl that follows, they meet a lovely young saloon girl who promptly (and separately) seduces both of them, telling them of an evil man chasing her and convincing them to take her with them back to Dodge. Along the way, the man catches up to them; he is apparently domestically abusive, saying the longer she resists coming back with him the more he'll "whoop" on her. Quint and Festus stand up to him, and despite normally being portrayed as decent fighters, get their asses handed to them. Eventually the girl turns on them (saying that two on one is cheating) and gleefully goes back into the arms of her lover, telling the two "It's not so bad; I really do love him! And he doesn't whoop on me too bad!" This is Played for Laughs.
Hey Hey, It's Saturday, an Australian expy of The Gong Show, had a scandal revolving around a sketch where a group of performers do a blackface Jackson Five routine called the Jackson Jive. Two of the judges were Australian, and were longtime members of the judge panel. The third judge was Harry Connick Jr. While the two Australian judges had no problems with the skit (blackface has little stigma in Australia compared to America due to a lack of history surrounding the performance), Connick was not so happy with the act, to the point where if he knew that act was going to be on, he never would've been on the show in the first place.
Some of Hogan's more... aggressive actions towards women come off as creepy to modern eyes.
While Kinchloe gets his chance at two women, both of them are black. He almost never vocally shares the other inmates' interest in beautiful white women. This might also be an aversion of Politically Correct History, as it wouldn't be particularly smart for a black man to do so even among friends in that time period.
When Carter reveals that he is part Native American, LeBeau and Newkirk spend the rest of the episode mocking him over it, to his evident displeasure. Especially jarring given the show's generally respectful treatment of its African-American characters.
In The Honeymooners, Ralph threatens to hit his wife every time they have a fight. Those who watch the show will know that his threats are empty and he wouldn't dream of carrying them out, but there is no way a modern sitcom husband could get away with even an empty threat of domestic violence.
The King of Queens, homage that it is, recasts Ralph as delivery driver Doug Heffernan. The viewer gets a strong conviction that his hard-boiled wife Carrie would hit him back, and harder. Doug, in more sensitive times, has to content himself with the verbal put-down "Shutty!" and variations on a theme.
Hogar, Dulce Hogar, a '70s Mexican sitcom, shows two neighboring couples; Sergio and Lucha on one hand, and Pepe and Juanita on the other. Pepe is extremely chauvinistic and openly misogynistic, to the point that he has Juanita totally subjugated and tries to convince Sergio to do the same to his wife. On the other hand, Lucha is violent and aggressive towards Sergio, frequently physically abusing him and beating him up, which of course is always played for laughs. The show was very popular when it first aired and is fairly light-hearted compared to modern Mexican sitcoms, but there's no way a show like that could ever be made in modern times.
How I Met Your Mother: the premise is that the episodes are stories that one of the characters is telling to his future children. It's assumed the children are young, because all profanity and drug use are edited out (smoking weed, for example becomes "eating sandwiches"). However, sex is openly and casually discussed.
The children aren't that young, they're likely only in their early teens, and most have already had at least some sexual education. And there really isn't a lot being censored by Future!Ted, most of it relating to his past drug use—which he might see as embarrassing—and more extreme sexual situations.
It's also a given that any time Ted imagines a worst-case date scenario, inevitably he imagines his date telling she used to be a man as the worst thing possible. For a show that usually had a progressive leaning, the transphobia can be quite jarring.
When Lucy is pregnant, not only do they not use the word "pregnant", but in the episode where Lucy's trying to get the message across to Desi that they're having a baby, she looks to be about 5 minutes away from going into labor, which makes it all the weirder that it takes him so long to get it.
In one episode, Lucy intentionally gets sunburned so that Ricky will be less likely to hit her when he finds out about her latest clusterfuck. In fact, Ricky also frequently makes somewhat casual threats to punch Lucy in the nose (similar to Ralph Kramden's "One of these days, Alice..." rants). He never does it, and it's usually just a lot of bluster, but nowadays, even jokingly threatening to punch your wife just doesn't happen.
Ricky also has a tendency to threaten Lucy with violence in Spanish. Lucy can't tell what he's saying, but his tone of voice and body language make his meaning plain. She usually looks terrified of him during these displays, while the audience laughs at threats of domestic abuse.
Due to period taboos, Lucy and Desi's bedroom has separate beds and their bathroom has no toilet.
Ricky speaks to Little Ricky entirely in his heavily-accented English. It's now known that a child can learn two languages in infancy as easily as one and would be recommended that he speak to his child in Spanish while Lucy uses English.
In episode 284 (Potato Battle), Canadian challenger Michael Noble creates an appetizing lamb-and-potato dish and starts to lay it out, casserole-style. To this American viewer's eyes, this is completely normal (and the dish looks awesome). The Japanese panel, on the other hand, reacts with dismay at the presentation, as if none of them had ever even seen a casserole before. (Noble lost, leading many to believe it was that moment of dissonance that cost him the battle).
Another sort of values dissonance can be seen between the way the original Iron Chef is judged versus the judging on Iron Chef America. Apparently in Japan, watching celebrities eat is a big entertainment deal, and a lot of TV focuses around this, so naturally the judges on the original show are almost always celebrities, with the very occasional actual food critic thrown in. The American version thought that maybe, y'know, food critics should judge a cooking competition, and the ratio of critics to celebrities is usually flipped. When ICA has more than one celebrity judge, one of them will usually have some gourmet cred (Ex. Jeri Ryan and Lou Diamond Phillips are both restaurateurs).
Just who qualifies as "celebrities" is sometimes a bit off, too. Actors, singers, and athletes, sure. But politicians and fortune tellers?
Similarly, the Iron Chefs seem to get the benefit of the doubt on the original, leading to some absurd win percentages (including Kishi outright rigging battles to avoid OT by randomly docking a challenger point whenever possible). This went away in the American version, and the IC's winning percentages drop since fairness trumps deference. It makes the Japan-esque winning percentages of Batali and Symon all the more impressive.
When Iron Chef is shown in Australia it sometimes has a "contains scenes that may disturb some viewers" warning. This is because the people on the show have no qualms about doing things like chopping up a live octopus that is still crawling around on the cutting board and trying to escape.
French actress Julie Dreyfus flatly refuses to taste a challenger's dish because it contains whale meat.
In episode 73 (Stingray Battle), Chef Noboru Inoue — boss and mentor to challenger Yoshihide Koga — spends almost the entire show standing on the sideline, getting drunk on red wine. The camera even catches him punching assistants on two separate occasions. On an American production, any one of those examples would've seen Inoue quietly hustled backstage — at a minimum — and most of the footage would probably never make the airwaves. Here, the attitude of the commentators is, if anything, patronizing. Apparently, the loss of dignity is important than the fact that there's a drunk guy on the floor punching people.
JAG is an interesting example showing change over the lifetime of the show. In early seasons, the presence of female pilots (or women in general) on warships was controversial. It was the subject of the pilot movie, and they had Raye "Zap" Hollitt playing one of the pilots, apparently because only a woman built like a bodybuilder could realistically be expected to survive on a warship. Not only would this seem dated a decade later to the audience, but female pilots and ships crew eventually became totally unremarkable within the show itself.
"Johan En De Alverman", a Flemish children's show featuring a white man dressed as a Native American character.
There's a song called Een Kabouterindiaantje, which translates to "A Gnome Indian", which may sound racist to Native Americans today.
Kenan & Kel has one episode where the gag is Kel dressing up as a woman so he and Kenan can compete on a couples' game show. When gay marriage became a hot-button issue in the 2000s, it would have been unlikely to appear on a children's show. And in The New '10s, they'd have to tread carefully to avoid the Unfortunate Implications over a joke about two men getting married.
Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU are so long-running that the current characters would have a values dissonance with their own earlier incarnations.
In at least two separate episodes of the original series, it is considered revolutionary and controversial to charge a man in authority with rape for coercing sex from his female employees or charges under threat of termination or homelessness (kicking her out of of a group home).
An SVU episode has the cast about evenly divided on the plausibility or laughability of a male stripper being forcibly raped by women.
In early SVU episodes, Detective Munch espouses the infamous "well she shouldn't have been dressed that way" viewpoint.
The way transgender individuals are treated in early episodes of Special Victims Unit is uncomfortable. They casually throw around slurs like "tranny" without it being portrayed in a negative manner and frequently misgender characters. It's especially noticeable as episodes in The New '10s, barely ten years after some of the aforementioned episodes, go out of their way to portay this sort of thing as negative, and sympathetic characters don't do it anymore. In a 2015 episode about an assault on a transgender victim, the defendant's use of the term "tranny" is used as evidence of a hate crime.
The earlier episodes of both shows regularly have the police (and on occasion the district attorneys) bend or or violate the law to get convictions, such as by arranging for certain people to be unavailable for court, withholding evidence, and assaulting suspects. Elliot Stabler especially uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique just about every other episode to beat suspects into convicting, toys with the idea of terrifying them, and confesses that he fantasizes about murdering the people he arrests. Over the course of The New '10s (shortly after Christopher Meloni left the show), United States police officers were the subject of one scandal after another involving assault and unprovoked violence toward the people they're meant to protect, coupled with a justice system that fudges the details of each incident and protects officers guilty of such actions. Nowadays such episodes are quite difficult to watch, and you have to wonder how long Stabler would last in an era where everyone's first reaction to the police is to take out their phones.
On one Season 10 episode "Lead", a intellectually disabled teenager is accused of murdering his pediatrician. Alex questions about the young man on the stand despite his diminished mental capacity by pointing out that he is "retarded", which by current standards would be offensive, considering the fact that people in the mentally impaired community are frowning upon the word "retard" being used as slang and to describe people with intellectual disabilities, even comparing the use the "R-word" to using the word "faggot" as slang and to describe gay individuals.
Little House on the Prairie ran in the 1970s and early 1980s. The show's aesops are a hybrid of good country living and 1970s values. In the show, it's not polite to make fun of poor people, but it's okay to punch a girl in the face if she says or does something you don't like — and there is no consequence for doing so.
Love Thy Neighbour was aired on British TV in the 1970s as a jolly sitcom for all the family. The premise for this laugh-fest is that a West Indian couple has moved in next door to a white couple, the male half of whom is rather intolerant of black people and who expresses his tolerance in throwaway epithetic one-word descriptions of his darker-skinned neighbour. The West Indian has an equally colourful set of words for his white neighbour, and much hilarity ensues as the odd couple are generally thrown together in comedic and instructional situations where they each realise they need the other's help to get out of deep doodoo. Meanwhile, the two wives just get on with it and are friends over the back fence. While not as completely horrendous as it's been painted and in some respects wickedly funny, it could never, ever be commissioned or broadcast today. Examples exist on YouTube if you want to judge for yourself. (Or, if you really dare, on DVD...)
The series has a massively dysfunctional family (immature father, overbearing mother, the youngest and oldest brother causing destruction and mayhem inside and outside the home, and the middle child who gets ignored, tormented at school, and sometimes joins in on the antics of the other brothers). What was seen as hilarious (and possibly normal for some people) back in the 2000s would have people nowadays wondering why no one ever calls social services on the parents.
A season one episode has Lois being told by another parent that Malcolm has been throwing around "the R word." No, he wasn't calling other kids retarded (an especially easy mistake to make since the premise is that Malcolm is a genius), but the joke is supposed to be that there is no offensive "R word" and the other parents are indulging in Political Correctness Gone Mad.
Invoked by Tina Fey in her acceptance speech for the Mark Twain prize.
"I hope that, like Mark Twain, people one day look back at my work and say, 'Wow, that is actually pretty racist.'"
Even with the controversy of the show (or just plain Black Comedy of its nature), some elements of the show, given its genre and prime-time hours (and the then-nascent network it was on), wouldn't fly nowadays. Case in point, in the first couple of seasons, Peg smoked like a chimney. Also, even if it were for only a few episodes and with that blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, Kelly wore a bomber jacket with a Confederate flag patch on it.
An especially bad one involving Bud when he decides to get revenge on a girl who's been stringing him along in the hopes of making another guy jealous. He convinces the guy—who couldn't care less about the girl—to entice her into meeting him under the bleachers for sex. Later, we see the girl emerging from the bleachers, adjusting her clothes, completely unaware that she just had sex with Bud, as we see him coming out a few seconds later. As a YouTube commentator put it: "Why is the audience cheering the fact that Bud just RAPED that girl?"
Along the same lines, anytime Al had sex with Peg against his will (or vice versa), or Bud was grabbed by a fat woman and forced to have sex with her. Played for laughs, but would be viewed as spousal rape and female-on-male rape, respectively, today.
Also, in the episode "Her Cups Runneth Over"note i.e., the episode that got Terry Rakolta riled up has Steve ogling a mannequin dressed in a leather mini-skirt and match pasties, which he then begins to poke at. Al wanders over, comments to him "Steve, aren't you ashamed of yourself?" for doing it, which makes him reply back, "Oh, come on, Al; she was asking for it! You can see the way she's dressed!"
Both of the episodes "Requiem for a Dead Barber" and "Calendar Girl" would cause a lot of controversy and backlash if aired today. The former can come off as homophobic (particularly the part where Al complaining to his friends about their ridiculous hairstyles and saying how they need to put their heads under a hose and "wash the gay away") and the latter's ending can be seen as extremely transphobic.
M*A*S*H is a show that covers a lot of contemporary social issues in a progressive light (especially after Alan Alda was given a great deal of creative control). However, the show still has a tendency to handle rape in a distasteful manner. Not that an actual rape is joked about or anything' rather, that such a serious subject is handled with a lot of comedic fodder. One can argue that a show that tries to bring humor to dark circumstances is simply attempting the same thing. However, dark circumstances on M*A*S*H are still handled in a dramatic fashion, so the show's trivialization of rape is rather cringe-worthy. Even the writers in the later retrospectives on the show regret the rape jokes, and asked "What were we thinking?"
Mastermind is a popular UK quiz show where people really have to study to be able to answer questions. Only the person who makes it through the first round, the semi-finals and wins the finals gets a prize: an engraved glass. Little time is spent on the candidate him/herself. In the Netherlands, not far from the UK, the format completely flopped. The public was upset that non-winners didn't get anything, and they wanted more details of the candidates' personal lives.
Maury never does shows where the audience tries to find out a trans person's or crossdresser's sex anymore, likely due to changing views on LGBTQ people.
Merlininverts it. By modern standards, Uther is a ruthless tyrant. By general medieval standards, he would be considered rather benevolent.
Miami Vice: The central element of the series is civil asset forfeiture; cops using stuff seized from rich criminals to justify them wearing expensive suits and driving expensive cars. This is extremely uncomfortable in The New '10s, with cops nationwide having come under fire for seizing anything they feel like from anyone they feel like and telling their victims, "You'll burn up the value in attorney fees trying to get it back, so shut up and get lost." Even worse, the assets aren't used for police work, but for luxuries like alcohol for office parties, new houses for administrators, etc.
Mind Your Language is today considered to be at best embarrassingly xenophobic; at worst, blatantly racist. However, when it aired in the late 1970s, the show was appreciated for having a comparatively diverse cast with several actors of African and Asian descent.
Watch the Erizabeth L episode, where Italian director Luchino Visconti is revealed to be a Japanese imposter with a drawn-out Japanese Ranguage joke and Terry Jones in yellowface; he then does it again in blackface, when he plays an African impersonating another Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni.
The name given to the friend of the mother of the Secretary of State for Overseas Affairs, who is just about to make a major speech about Rhodesia in the Commons but wouldn't mind a cup of tea first, is Mrs Nigger-Baiter. This is of course done deliberately for shock value, but the dissonance is much more glaring today than it was in the early 70s.
An episode of Mork & Mindy has Mork go up against an overgrown bully named George. George stalks Mindy, makes threatening phone calls to Mork and hangs out menacingly near their house. This is treated as creepy jerkassery, but no one even thinks of calling the police. Ironically, it would take the death of another of Pam Dawber's co-stars (Rebecca Schaffer of My Sister Sam) to get the first anti-stalking laws passed in America.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 frequently calls out and lampshades Values Dissonance, where Joel/Mike and the 'bots will riff on a movie for the horribly dated or inappropriate attitudes it displays. This is particularly prevalent in their riffs on informational short films from the '50s, where the crew will mercilessly mock the film for its outdated attitudes to family life, gender politics, racism, social behavior and so forth.
This reaches an apotheosis with the short film Catching Trouble (episode 315). Filmed in 1936, it presents a lighthearted look at Ross Allen, who captures animals for his zoo - with his bare hands. This involves poking them with sticks, knocking them out of tall trees - by cutting the trees down - and trapping them in a bag, with the help of "his faithful Seminole". On one occasion he starts a small forest fire in order to drive out a snake, and eventually he grabs two bear cubs who scream in a particularly pitiful way (their mother is strangely absent). Then one of the cubs attempts to escape from the boat by swimming, but as a camera just happens to be underwater, it seems clear that he was provoked into jumping off the boat just so that he could be recaptured. Joel and The Bots became audibly upset over the course of the film, culminating in Joel apologising on behalf of humanity.
A second apotheosis comes with A Date With Your Family, a short film from 1950 which is intended to teach kids how to have dinner with their parents. The film's portrait of family life circa 1950 - in which everything has to be arranged so that the father will not be upset when he returns from a hard day at the office - exactly fits the modern stereotype of that era. The narration, which is delivered by Hugh Beaumont, gives such as advice as "pleasant, unemotional conversation helps the digestion", and observes that "these boys greet their Dad as though they were genuinely glad to see him, as though they really missed him". The narrator further points out how the mother and sister of the family "owe it" to their menfolk to be attractive and charming, and encourages the son to compliment the ladies' cooking as "this will make them want to continue pleasing you."
While not quite as jarring as the above two, the Union Pacific safety film "Days of Our Years" features a segment where a husband drops his wife in labor off at the hospital, and is then encouraged by the doctors to go on ahead to work while they take care of business. (This was during a time when women were kept sedated during childbirth, so it's not like the husband's presence would mean much to the wife either way.) Against that though, the tradition of the new father handing cigars to everyone at the workplace almost fails to rate a mention.
The short advertising spot for a home economics major for female college students takes quite a few hits. While most of the short is rather progressive in asserting that most of its graduates went on to have careers, the hosts audibly boo when the short gushes over a graduate who takes on the "full-time career" of being a housewife.
The short that precedes Catching Trouble, Aquatic Wizards, has the narrator call a Hispanic jumper "a Mexican jumping bean". The Bots proceed to tear him a new one, with Crow calling him a "white fascist", and Tom pegging him as a fat ignorant hick who gets paid to talk into a microphone and eat pretzels all day.
In the season 1 episode "Dead Man Talking" (which was first released in 2004), the team's attitude towards the woman who turns out to be a pre-op transgender person, as well as the killer of the week, comes off as pretty transphobic nowadays:
Tony has flirted and has set up a date with the woman before anybody else found out about her being both the murderer and born male. However, Kate seems far more shocked about "Tony's on a date with a guy!", rather than Tony being on a date with the person responsible for the death of one of their fellow agents and who was most likely planning on killing Tony as well.
The killer most likely didn't transition because he actually identifies himself as a woman, but because it's the ultimate disguise to get away with his crimes, lending to the Unfortunate Implication that transgender is used by criminals to hide themselves from the law.
A more minor example can be found in the season 3 episode “Ravenous”, released in 2006. In it, Tony shows romantic interest in a park ranger he meets during an investigation. He changes his mind when he finds out that - horror of all horrors - she doesn’t shave her legs or underarms. The sight of this causes him to react in disgust and make up an excuse for why he can’t date her. This is played for laughs and it’s clear the writers expect the audience to share his revulsion. Though there still exists a stigma against women who, for whatever reason, choose not to shave, nowadays there is a growing backlash against the idea that the natural body hair a woman has is somehow dirty or gross.
The Odd Couple, in one episode ("The Pig Who Came to Dinner"), features a guest appearance by Bobby Riggs in which he plays up his sexist public image. If similar statements had been made about blacks, for example, they would never have been tolerated, but women were apparently Acceptable Targets back then and Riggs' bigotry is largely played for laughs.
Odisea Burbujas features a scene where Mimoso Raton (a baby mouse) walks into a room, and a woman jumps onto a chair because she is terrified of him. And this is shown as perfectly normal and expected. This show ran in Mexico during the first half of the 1980s. Imagine the backlash and accusations of sexism the producers would have received if the same scene had been aired in the USA during the same time period.
Only Fools and Horses: Del's homophobia, which is Played for Laughs in a way that reflected society's attitudes at the time the early seasons were filmed. Interestingly, the show notes the change in opinions - Rodney is much more accepting, and calls Del out when he suspects that he could have gotten AIDS from an effeminate hairdresser.
On the Buses has one episode where the main characters Stan and Jack notice that their homemade beer makes Stan's sister and brother-in-law so out of their minds that they want to have sex with each other, even though they normally don't. So they decide to make some more and get the women at their work so out of their mind that they'll have sex with them, not really knowing what they are doing. This is treated as harmless fun.
Patrulla Fronteriza: Prohibido Pasar, a reality show on the National Geographic Channel, provides more fun with Latin American Values Dissonance! It's about the patrols of the USA/Mexico border and their heroic fight against the evils from the outside. If you don't get it, just ask how many Latin Americans have relatives living illegally in the USA.
"Pipo De Clown", a Dutch children's show, was very popular in the country from the 1950s until the 1970s. It featured a white man dressed as a Native American, speaking in childlike sentences. Nowadays this seems horribly racist.
In Police Woman, Fair Cop Pepper Anderson's male colleagues keep complimenting her on her good looks, beautiful eyes and so on. Today this would at best be considered unprofessional catcalling and at worst sexual harassment.
Power Rangers Samurai plays out like this, because it barely alters anything from the original Sentai script, which results in a diverse, and western, group of Power Rangers acting very strangely to most western viewers, portraying Japanese values.
All of them have been trained to be Samurai Rangers from childhood onward, and they are expected to drop anything they had going on to take up that duty when called upon. This includes any job they have been holding down. This doesn't bode well to a Western audience, who see no reason why both can't still be performed. Meanwhile, a Japanese audience sees this as appropriate, with familial duty (for the Greater Good) being deemed more important than personal independence.
Blue Ranger Kevin chewing out Gold Ranger Antonio for wanting to be a Samurai Ranger when he was never from a Samurai family to begin with. Aside from the obvious problem that none of the original cast are Japanese, this again ties in with the whole family and honor idea. Most people would commend Antonio for doing something that he considers right and working his ass off to become fit for a Samurai Ranger.
Mia's line of how "every girl's dream is to get married" and her horrible fear of being a bad cook. While dreaming of getting married is still a rather common idea that any person can have at some point, she puts a lot of emphasis on it and seems to have not much of a life plan beyond that. While her not being a good cook isn't a problem to most Western audiences, it does make more sense to a Japanese audience. Getting married is an expected societal norm for women, especially by the age of 25, and being a good cook is expected of a housewife. This goes into the strict gender roles still present in Japan.
In Punky Brewster, the famous episode "Accidents Happen" has Alan bringing a real-looking fake gun to school for career day, claiming he wants to be Rambo; post-Columbine, he would've at the very least been suspended.
QI had an episode discussing a man from Japan who survived both bombings - a man who took a train from Hiroshima to Nagasaki just in time for the second blast. Most Brits wouldn't have thought twice about it. Interesting figures from even the grisliest chapters of history are routinely discussed, lampooned, and milked for laughs on the show, all in the name of being interesting. To British people, it's actually quite cosy comedy, and the clip no more harmful than anything else they've broadcast. Some Japanese media networks disagreed however, and the very existence of such a conversation - not broadcast in Japan, incidentally - was reported as an abomination, as it broke a cultural taboo. To some of the people of Japan, the subject's off-limits to the whole universe. To the UK, it's just quite interesting. It should, however, be pointed out that there are plenty of people from Japan commenting on that video that they don't see what the fuss is about.
All the more interesting when you consider an earlier segment, which features far more jokes at the expense of Japanese accents and culture. If anything, you would expect that segment to have offended Japanese people, but instead a far milder one caused controversy, despite mainly discussing how extraordinary it was that Japanese trains were running the day after Hiroshima, which the panelists said would never happen in London.
The Red Dwarf episode Parallel Universe has Rimmer's female equivalent acting what would be considered pervy for the time (if done by a man), but downright horrible by today's standards. She comes onto male-Rimmer, grabs him by the thigh, claims he's "begging for it", and, when he turns her down, calls him "frigid". When the Rimmers discover the Listers in bed together, she slut-shames male-Lister right to his face.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch has an episode where Harvey says he doesn't want to go to college, and wants to jump straight into being a mechanic - prompting Sabrina to fret about his lack of ambition. After the 2008 recession, Harvey's plan to jump into a job with a steady income seems much more sensible.
Scandal: Abby, on Stephen: "I don't understand why a successful, charming man like him, with a good job, needs to sleep with whores." Abby is hardly an innocent, nor Stephen's actual wife.
SCTV: Dave Thomas did at least two characters in yellowface. Thomas plays Lin Ye Tang in multiple episodes, while playing Tim Ishimuni in 3.
The DVD releases of the early seasons of Sesame Street are given a label warning that they are intended for adult viewing for nostalgia purposes, as the standards of what is appropriate for children to watch have gotten stricter. The episodes include the likes of an adult Muppet approaching a bunch of kids and pulling letters out of his trenchcoat.
Skins has a somewhat... casual attitude toward teenage sex, which significantly freaks out American audiences; British viewers, on the other hand, view it as merely as an over-the-top if, at heart, accurate depiction. Particularly, the U.S. version of Skins had to change the resolution of the Hot for Student relationship in the first season. While the British don't exactly look kindly upon student-teacher romances, in America the cultural taboo against it is so strong that even a neutral portrayal (as the original British version gives) would be seen as irresponsible. So in the American version, we see Chris and Tina's relationship get found out, and Tina arrested and fired with a promise never to contact Chris again. In the original, Chris simply realizes that Jal is better for him than Angie (the character on which Tina was based), and they both move on.
The treatment of women can feel sexist to the modern viewer, despite the fact that the show usually pushes standards of equality that were radical for the time. ("But there was prejudice on Earth once! I remember reading about it in a history book!") In fact, the only reason there isn't more obvious gender equity on the original Enterprise is Executive Meddling by nervous suits who thought the very presence of females would imply rampant promiscuity among the crew. According to producers who worked on the series, though, even though Gene Roddenberry did want more female characters, it was less in the name of real, honest gender equity and more in the name of skirts and tops that exemplified the Theiss Titillation Theory (there's a reason a Trek girl is that trope's image). But hey, at least they're there and (sometimes) involved in the plot.
A reason women are treated as mostly eye-candy on the original series might have to do with the poor reaction of test audiences to the original pilot, "The Cage", in 1964. Gene Roddenberry claimed that a lot of women objected to seeing a woman in a position of authority (Number One, played by Majel Barrett), and the fact that the female crew members wore pants.
Also in "The Cage", somewhat jarring to modern viewers might be Captain Pike's unwillingness to allow, and discomfort with having, a woman on the bridge (when a female yeoman comes up to deliver a report)... with the exception of Number One, that is.
The original series also has McCoy constantly insulting Spock's Vulcan heritage by calling him such things as "you green-blooded Vulcan" or "you pointed-eared hobgoblin". In real-world terms, this is essentially the same thing as racial insults, and shouldn't HR be doing something about that? Within the show, it's considered a harmless part of Spock and McCoy's Vitriolic Best Buds relationship. May also count as Deliberate Values Dissonance, since Spock has no emotional sensibilities with which to be offended due to his Vulcan mental discipline.
Star Trek: The Next Generation gives a possible In-Universe example with Picard's refusal to save populations threatened with natural disaster in the episodes "Homeward" and "Pen Pals" due to being prewarp, so doing so would violate the Prime Directive. Kirk would not approve...
Star Trek: Enterprise doesn't have the Directive yet, but the crew still makes some pretty dissonant noninterference decisions:
The first season episode when Archer decides to let an entire race die out because it's "nature's plan" is particularly upsetting because of its ridiculous use of Hollywood Genetics. Supposedly, a race is unable to "evolve" because of another species, and that species is "evolving" to die out. A passing understanding of genetics shows how foolish it is, making the choice to let a race die out so the other can "evolve", somehow, seem all the more insane.
The second season episode when everyone agrees that extending the right to an education to the third-gendered cogenitor on an alien ship, discriminated against because of its gender, is a horrible idea.
The show presents an uncomfortably realistic view of the morality and ethics of warfare that may seem objectionable to audience members. Almost all of the main characters are shown doing underhanded deeds in the name of victory, up to and including attempted genocide on the part of the Federation.
The show's tacit acknowledgement that Kira was a member of a terrorist cell during the Cardassian occupation can raise a few eyebrows now that the word has become so much more politically charged after events like the September 11th attacks. Had the show been made after 9/11 they'd probably have used "partisan" as a description such as those forces from World War 2 fighting against occupation by the Axis powers.
Still Standing has one episode-long Running Gag mention that Bill took Tina (the youngest daughter) to a bar. Bill, whenever this is mentioned, adds, "AND GRILL!". The joke may be lost on some - it's actually not as bad to have taken Tina to a bar and grill as the characters make it out to be. Many restaurants are in fact a "Bar and Grill" technically, and many actually do allow children, just as long as they don't consume alcohol.
In the British series Tripped, Milo and Danny go to an Alternate Universe, and one of the key things differentiating that world from this one is that gun control is much more relaxed in the UK, as one character actually pulls a gun on Milo, shocking him. In the US, it wouldn't make sense for one to be shocked at someone having a gun. Of course, even your average (unarmed) American would be scared to have someone point a gun at him.
The Waltons episode "The Romance" had the eldest daughter Mary Ellen state that she wished to become a doctor rather than just a nurse as she originally planned, explaining that she believes she has the talent and drive to succeed. Instead of encouraging Mary Ellen, Grandma Walton disbelievingly asks her to name one female doctor. When Mary Ellen names several, Grandma says "Well hopefully, by the time you're grown up, that sort of thing will have stopped happening."
Watching Ourselves, a documentary about the history of television in Scotland, lampshades this. In one clip from an old documentary about glue-sniffing, a father quite casually mentions beating up his son, who can't be much more than eleven or twelve, in front of the police:
"No one seems to care about the wee boy getting battered. Thankfully, some things in Scotland have changed for the better."
Who's the Boss? has this trope applied to the title, as it would never even occur to most viewers nowadays to question whether a live-in housekeeper could presume to be the head-of-household's "boss", merely because the employee happens to be male and the employer happens to be female. Indeed, few of the show's once-groundbreaking role reversals would raise an eyebrow today.
More than once, a villainess is given much a lighter punishment than her male counterparts such as Morn in "The Night of the Flying Pie Plate," who gets a lighter sentence than her other conspirators, or is even allowed to walk away scot-free, apparently simply because she is a beautiful woman. This is compounded at the end of "The Night of the Red-Eyed Madmen", when the villainess gives a rather insightful, moving speech about how she'd only wanted to be seen as more than "just a woman". This small step forward is promptly ignored in favor of having her and another woman fawn over a new dress and begin discussing how to look their best when the train pulls into Carson City.
The entire last scene of "The Night of the Firebrand" just drips with misogyny, as West and Gordon decide that Vixen O'Shaughnessy's punishment (for helping mastermind an attempted massacre at a military fort and a coup against Canada) is to be "forced to return to the feminine fold" so that she will "leave the fighting to us," by which they mean they're just going to make her return to the ladies' finishing school she escaped from. When she objects and goes into a Character Filibuster about all the wrongs that still need fighting against in the world, West basically gives her a Vulcan nerve pinch (a Running Gag in this episode) and reflects that he'd better tell the school's headmistress how to do it.
"The Night of the Tycoons" romps home with the gold in Sexist Episode Writing; other episodes have female villains, but there's an unpleasant tone throughout the episode suggesting women have no business being in charge of huge corporations, capped off by its tag scene with Lionel's fiancee Kyra booted off to the kitchen and Jim telling him he's got to keep these women in their place.
All that said, there are exceptions such as Laurette in "The Night of the Winged Terror, Part 2", Posey in "The Night of the Poisonous Posey", and most dramatically Astarte in "The Night of the Druid's Blood", who's not only caught but will, it's implied, hang for her crimes. And Jim makes it clear he isn't sorry.
WKRP in Cincinnati: Herb's constant pursuit of Jennifer would very likely result in a sexual harassment suit nowadays.
Z Cars, which by today's cop-show standards is exceedingly tame, once ran an episode where the cops have to bust a child-porn ring engaged in making dubious home movies. The series screened in the early evening, just after teatime. In the 1970s, long before the emergence of the modern frenzied hysteria about paedophilia, this passed by a British TV audience without undue comment.