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Deliberate Values Dissonance / Live-Action TV

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Deliberate Values Dissonance in live-action TV.


  • Shows up occasionally on 30 Rock, usually relating to the relics of GE and NBC's past. For instance, a series of flashbacks in one of the live episodes shows a sitcom from The '50s starring a white man in blackface playing a racist black stereotype, or a female news reporter from The '70s being assumed to have forced her way in front of the camera.
    Jack: Look how Greenzo's testing, they love him in every demographic. Colored people, broads, fairies, commies, gosh we've got to update these forms.
    • The autobiography of Jack's mentor and GE CEO Don Geiss contains such phrases as: "because a woman's brain has fewer folds" or "the Negroid musculature".
    • In an episode where TGS has a mother's day special, all of the mothers, who range from late middle age to elderly, tell Liz that she is getting too old to look for an ideal man, and to just settle for somebody before it's too late.
      Colleen Donaghy: You see, that's what "fem-in-ism" does, it makes smart girls with good birthing shapes believe in fairy tales.
  • Agent Carter:
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    • Shows the struggle that a single woman has to deal with in the post-WWII business world, seen as fit only to take lunch orders and answer the phones.
    • The second season has an African-American scientist and doesn't hide the difficulties that a man like that would have in the 1940s, not to mention the issues an interracial couple would have when Peggy finds herself attracted to him. The primary antagonist for the season is also partially motivated by the fact she's utterly pissed off at being considered only useful as an actress for her pretty face, and as she's getting older she's even losing that, when she's a self-taught scientific genius that no one, even her own family, would take seriously.
  • American Dreams being set in the early sixties plays with this trope extensively. While it contains a certain amount of nostalgia, there were pains taken to give characters realistic attitudes in regards to things like race, sexuality and war. There was also a fair amount of care taken to avoid Strawmen (although there were some arguable examples) and people's attitudes and actions were often conflicting. Pete Pryor was shown to be casually racist in his dealings as a cop but also seemed to genuinely respect Henry, his brother's black friend. Jack Pryor might have somewhat archaic views on women but allows his wife to work and offers to help his daughter attend college despite his initial misgivings. Even borderline Marty Stu JJ objects to his sister's budding inter-racial relationship. Some critics (especially since Mad Men has come along) have said it could have hit this trope harder but many others feel that not having a specific political viewpoint gave the show a more expansive perspective on the period.
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  • The Americans: Oleg visits a Russian market and walks past sullen shoppers picking over half-full shelves under ugly fluorescent lights. He then interrogates the market owner on why her market is stocked with such an unusual abundance of quality goods.
  • Andromeda: This gets played with a lot, especially in regards to the Nietzscheans. A stellar examples is when Dylan and his Nietzschean Number One Gaheris play Go. Dylan is surprised and somewhat offended that Gaheris would play in such a cutthroat manner in a friendly casual game. Gaheris is perplexed that anyone can see any test of skill as anything other than a life-or-death matter. And, as Gaheris explains, in his culture, it often is. Nietzscheans constantly jockey for position within their pride, and any loss could be construed as evidence of the loser's genetic inferiority, and disqualify them from anything from parenthood and leadership positions to the right to food and air, should supplies get tight enough.
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  • The Angel episode "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?" shows Angel living in Los Angeles during The '50s. At one point, an African-American family is prevented from staying in the Hyperion Hotel by its manager, who angrily claims that "the sign is wrong" and that he really has no vacancies. Additionally, Angel's neighbor is an Armored Closet Gay man who has to be incredibly careful to hide this fact from the other people of the hotel unless he wants to be thrown out on the street.
  • Another Period takes place in 1902 and uses this trope for comedic effect. Casual racism, misogyny, outdated ideas, and overall prejudice are referenced each episode.
  • Babylon Berlin: The filmmakers make a point about the open sexism of the time almost Once per Episode. In one episode, Councilor Benda (who's Jewish) is also openly told he isn't really German (not in so many words, though the implication is clear), reflecting the very common antisemitism German Jews endured (obviously, we all know it got way worse after the Nazis took power). This remark is apart from those by actual Nazis on the show, reminding us how they were far from the only antisemites then.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The episode "The Corps Is Mother, the Corps Is Father" is made of this, as all three of the episode's main characters are Psi Cops who have grown up in the Corps, and therefore been brainwashed with its skewed values since birth. Also, two of the characters are Naive Newcomers on their first mission, and the third is Bester.
    • Londo provides a number of examples on how their culture is different from humans, such as having no trouble with his lover being a slave (though he does buy her freedom), considering love and marriage completely unrelated (though he's willing to cover for two young Centauri who want to marry for love and buy them time to have a proper arranged marriage), and treating poisoning as a perfectly normal instrument of politics, at least among Centauri. Being an ambassador, he's perfectly aware that other cultures don't share their exact values, and won't get offended when a non-Centauri does something normal to them unless he has to or knows the other guy is doing it on purpose (and even then, he could be tolerant to Troll them).
    • In the backstory it's revealed that the Centauri once used limited piracy as a political tool, the Noble Houses engaging privateers to damage each others' trade when convenient and even attacking non-Centauri shipping if they were trading with a rival House, as nobody was stupid enough to risk a war with the Centauri over admittedly limited damage. This ended when House Jaddo's rivals reacted to them getting the monopoly of trade with Earth Alliance by sending their privateers... And found out the hard way that humans consider piracy of any scope as an act of war and reacted by having EarthForce chase the privateers across the border, firing on anyone who tried to interfere, and only stopping in the face of the overwhelming firepower of a starbase and its fleet and the promise the Centauri would try the pirates themselves, with the last chase ending in the EarthForce squadron nuking a starbase and its fleet because they had realized the Centauri never tried the pirates.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): invoked Per Word of God, this was deliberately invoked when assigning religious practices to the Twelve Colonies of Kobol and Cylons. The Colonials, who are overall the main protagonists of the series, practice a traditional polytheistic faith heavily reminiscent of Classical Mythology, despite largely seeming to be a United Space of America given the Constructed World treatment and having an officially secular government. Meanwhile, the (primarily) villainous Cylons are monotheistic extremists who follow a thinly veiled version of Christianity, to the point where most of their mentioned Scripture sounds like fire-and-brimstone Evangelical Christianity. According to the show's main creator Ron Moore, this was done so as to play on how Christian-centric most Western media portrays religion.
  • Boardwalk Empire is set in the 1920s, and well, here are some of the highlights:
    • Jimmy Darmody has no problem cheating on Angela while he is away and even considers abandoning his family altogether and moving to California before his lover dies, but he reacts violently when he merely suspects that Angela was having a relationship with a photographer while he was in the army. He is, however, surprisingly cool when he learns that she was actually seeing the photographer's wife.
    • Father Ed Brennan compares Teddy Thompson to "the cruel Jews [...] who taunted Jesus when he was on the cross".
    • Among Eddie Cantor's most acclaimed songs is the incredibly misogynistic one called "The Dumber They Come".
    • Chalky White is the most powerful black man in town, yet even he has to be arrested and lie low for shooting a Klansman in self-defense, right after the Klan killed several of his people.
    • In Season 4, after great effort, Chalky manages to have Nucky agree to let him build a club in Atlantic City's Boardwalk. The club is entirely managed and served by African-Americans, but the entry is whites only. And his number includes a white comedian in blackface, building his entire number on calling black people hystrionic and stupid, and there is also a number with scantily clad, light-skinned black dancers in leopard skins. Chalky even complains at one point that not even he can sit in his own nightclub.
  • Played for Laughs in the Boy Meets World episode "I Was a Teenage Spy", where Cory dreams he is sent back to the 1950s. When he says "butt" in class, Mr. Turner and all the other students react as if he'd said a horrible curse word.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Captain Holt, as a black cop in the 1980s, suffered discrimination from his white colleagues. Later, being an openly gay policeman harmed his career, despite having an excellent record of service, to the point that he was only recently named captain, mainly as a way to show how the current police embrace diversity. He also points out how the detectives Diaz and Santiago, being women, could not have been police officers in the 70s.
  • Chappelle's Show:
    • One sketch has Paul Mooney as a black film critic who watches Gone with the Wind alongside two white female reviewers. The white women laud the film for being powerful and feminist, while Mooney savages it for the blatant racism and whitewashed depiction of slavery.
    • A sketch has Mooney remarking on the casual racism in The Godfather, though in this film it's also Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • Cold Case played this for all it was worth. Expect at least five episodes a season to make the era the case's real monster, while savagely taking a Chris Avellone-level Deconstructor Fleet to the notion that earlier decades were happier, more innocent times.
  • Deadwood:
    • Even the sympathetic characters toss about what would be considered ethnic slurs today: Bullock calling Mr. Wu a "Chinaman", Calamity Jane addressing General Fields as "a short nigger", Trixie making frequent anti-Semitic remarks in reference to her Jewish lover Sol, and Charlie Utter often calling Indians "heathens". Then again, the nastier characters (Swearengen and Tolliver particularly) do it even more.
    • Prostitutes in town are little more than sexual slaves to their masters. This is treated as just a natural part of life in the frontier. The show also doesn't shy away from the Stockholm Syndrome felt by prostitutes toward their pimps.
    • As was considered appropriate in the time period, Mrs. Garret does not go outside without a male escort, even if the escort is a simpleton who couldn't be expected to perform any useful function.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": Since it's The '50s, no one in the house reacts when Eddie Connolly mentions he's going to beat his son later, just for wanting to see his grandmother. It's hard to tell if everyone else just thought he was joking, since no one but Tommy saw Eddie's face go from jovial to angry, or whether they just don't care.
    • Martha Jones worries in "The Shakespeare Code" about a black woman wandering around London in 1599, but the Doctor assures her that London has always been a place of many peoples and she should be fine. Indeed, the worst thing that happens is Shakespeare flirting with her by using several terms for "black person" that were common in the day, but not by any means considered politically correct now. (He eventually settles on "My Dark Lady", a term that anyone who knows Shakespeare's sonnets might find a little familiar.)
      • She ends up being inflicted with worse in 1913, with "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" having the students mocking her ("With hands like those, how can you tell when something's clean?"), Joan not believing that Martha could ever train as a doctor because she's black and female, and John Smith believing that Martha can't understand the difference between fictional literature and reality. The best part is that Joan has almost no trouble believing that John Smith was the Doctor and an alien, but can't seem to get her head around a black woman training to be a doctor. Additionally, the aforementioned Family of Blood two-parter shows the young boys at the boarding school being repeatedly insulted and scolded by their teachers for showing "cowardice unbecoming a man of the Empire" (read: symptoms of PTSD) after being forced to use firearms in self-defense, and the uncomfortable jingoism and rampant imperialist attitudes among the British are highlighted and shown to be self-destructive and foolish.
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", Donna feels sympathy for the footman Davenport because his lover Lord Roger has been murdered and, since it is the 1920s, he cannot openly mourn or acknowledge that they were anything other than master and servant, even though everyone in the household appears to have known.
    • "The Next Doctor": The men attending Reverend Fairchild's funeral are openly shocked when Miss Hartigan turns up at the grave, and the priest interrupts his speech to tell her how inappropriate she is. On top of that, she deliberately showed up in a red dress and carrying a red parasol.
    • Played for laughs in "Vastra Investigates", a prequel to "The Snowmen"; a Victorian policeman takes it fairly in stride that the detective he's working with is a reptilian woman from Earth's distant past employing a genetically-engineered warrior from space. The fact that she's romantically involved with her maid visibly freaks him out, though. The actual episode makes a Discriminate and Switch joke out of this, with Simeon apparently being more disgusted that the Veiled Detective is a woman as opposed to not being human, and is especially derisive of her and Jenny's relationship. Vastra rejects his accusations of impropriety; they are married after all.
    • In "The Eaters of Light", Bill is surprised by a Roman legion's casual acceptance of her lesbianism and their Token Gay member's homosexuality. They describe being interested in men and women as "normal", and consider monosexuality to be a fad. Also, the legionnaires do not even mention the fact that Bill or two of their own are black, yet are openly racist towards the white Scottish "barbarians". They are also all teenagers (the eldest is 18), and find nothing weird about being in the army at their age, and are ashamed at being scared of an alien monster because soldiers aren't supposed to feel afraid.
    • Played for Laughs in "Twice Upon a Time", where the First Doctor makes several casually sexist remarks toward Bill, in keeping with his character (who was written in the 1960s). The Twelfth Doctor is deeply ashamed and tries to get his past self to cut it out.note 
    • Played for Drama in "Rosa". While walking around in 1955 Alabama, Ryan notices a passing white woman drop one of her gloves and goes to return it to her. His reward for this innocent gesture is a slap to the face and a warning from her husband, infuriated that a black man would have the temerity to approach a white woman. It almost results in a scuffle. Really, this whole episode underscores the point that a non-white time traveler would be made to feel uncomfortable or even in danger in many periods and places of Earth's history.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman:
    • It features a female doctor/adoptive mom coming to work in a frontier town, without Politically Correct History coming into play. "Dr. Mike" and her children are exceptionally enlightened, as might be expected, but most plots derive from the ignorance of the townsfolk over natives, Jewish immigrants, Reconstruction, Darwinian evolution, or (most commonly, given the series' focus) single mothers as doctors.
    • Even Mike herself falls victim to this. She is at first very apprehensive about the Native Americans, having never even seen them before moving to Colorado Springs, as well as uncomfortable about her son Brian's friendship with Walt Whitman after hearing rumors about Whitman's sexuality.
  • Eureka has a downplayed example on a trip to the past when Henry dryly notes how easily he should be able to blend in. "Eureka was always progressive, but still, nobody would look twice at a black mechanic in 1947."
  • In the Korean drama Faith, Choi Young (a warrior from the 14th century) travels to the present day to find a doctor after the queen is wounded. To test a doctor he found, he slashes open the throat of a perfectly innocent guard to see if she can save him. After she does, he's actually surprised when she tries to escape rather than immediately follow him.
  • Firefly: The series is set several centuries in the future, but it is repeatedly emphasized that social mores don't always evolve going into the future, especially when humanity has spread itself across dozens of terraformed planets and moons and technology has yet to advance to the point of The Singularity. Slavery is actually legal for some worlds in the Alliance, entire villages see nothing wrong with kidnapping travelers, witch trials show up, and some women are sold as property, but the most notable is the Companions. Companions are treated with high-ranking respect, making it a preferable life choice that some women idealize. This has driven criticism from some feminist groups, due to the in-universe admiration Companions earn, while forgetting the much less appealing portrayal of life for more ordinary prostitutes. In part to amend this issue, the episode "Heart of Gold" is about a prostitute who's bearing the child of the most powerful man on that moon, who intends to take the child to raise as his own even if he has to cut it out of her body. And this is because these are lucky prostitutes — the current madame is a former Companion, but before she showed up most of the girls were cruelly abused and heavily addicted to drugs so they could be kept in line.
  • Game of Thrones: As with the novels, this is a notable theme of the series:
    • Zigzagged by Sansa and Tyrion in Season 3. Sansa specifically calls Littlefinger too old for her, but makes no mention of this regarding Tyrion, who (while younger than Littlefinger) is still at least twice her age. Conversely, only Tyrion seems to take issue with Sansa's age, even though he admits to bedding girls not much older. (The implication is that in his case these were sex workers, which both from profession and from social standing would be perceived quite differently from a highborn lady.)
    • In "The Mountain and the Viper", Yohn Royce criticizes Petyr Baelish's Braavosi ancestry and insinuates that his lowborn hands are only good for handling money. Littlefinger's bland reaction implies that these racist and classist attitudes are something he has dealt with all his life.
    • Sacred Hospitality is a really big deal in Westeros. If you're of higher social standing you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want, but don't invite someone over for dinner and then backstab them. The Freys do this with the Red Wedding and everybody, even their allies turn on them.
    • True to the medieval period in Real Life, while the laws and customs of war make clear distinctions between civilians and combatants in combat, in a city under siege that has rejected all calls to surrender the distinction ceases to exist as the responsibility for the safety of the local population falls to the defender. So from a medieval perspective, Daenerys' decision to torch King's Landing with Drogon makes sense, though it horrifies her allies and completely tarnishes her character in the eyes of modern viewers.
    • In the show's finale, after the death of Daenerys at the hands of Jon leaves the throne to the Seven Kingdoms open without a clear successor, the nobles of Westeros are gathered to decide a solution. Samwell Tarly, ever the Nice Guy, suggests that the new monarch be chosen by the smallfolk of Westeros in an election... and nearly every person present laughs at him. Even if they are the "good" guys, they are still nobles from a feudal society, so the idea of smallfolk democracy is utterly ridiculous to them. But they are more receptive to the idea of Westeros becoming an Elective Monarchy.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: As with the book, the series is full of this since it involves a misogynistic and homophobic fundamentalist regime taking over the United States following a Sterility Plague. They push the clock back so far that even reading is now forbidden to women. Birth control is now illegal, and adultery is illegal and punished by death.
  • Very much Played for Laughs on Harry Enfield and Chums during the sketches featuring Miles Cholmondley-Warner and his assistant Grayson. The Public Information Film Women: Know Your Limits is a particularly well-known example.
  • A flashback episode of Heroes takes place before the civil rights movement and involves Angela Shaw (future Angela Petrelli) as a teenage girl running away from the military base with three boys her age, one of whom is Charles Deveaux, who is black. At a local diner, Charles asks Angela for a dance, but they stop when the customers (all white) stare at them and the cook tells that they don't tolerate that sort of thing there. Charles promptly uses his telepathic ability to have the customers and the employees forget this ever happened.
  • A notable theme in the series History Bites is playing this and The Dung Ages trope for Black Comedy. Everybody is a victim of bias, and everybody is a carrier of bias, even if they don't even realize it. At worst, some of the characters are blatant about their biases. Is it any wonder that this series sometimes gets hit with Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
  • Horatio Hornblower: In "Duty", Horatio rescues an American sailor at sea... and promptly presses him into the crew by force. American viewers with a good grasp of history might know that this is not Horatio being a heel, he's just following usual Royal Navy procedure at the time in real life - by some estimates around 15,000 American sailors were pressed into crews on British ships in real life, and this was what in part caused the United States to declare war on the British Empire in 1812 (that and a lack of a decent postal service).
  • Jack Ryan: Suleiman tells his young children the story of how he married their mother: Her father offered her to him for the night when she was 16, but he decided he'd rather marry her, which her father permitted the very next day. Suleiman seems to think that this is a romantic story in spite of it involving a teenage girl being prostituted and then forcibly married without her consent.
  • In Kaamelott:
    • Even though Arthur is very ahead of his time, this trope is sometimes used to remind the viewers that no, despite the way they're talking, the protagonists are not modern people in fancy costumes, but really fifth-century barbarians.
      Loth: Kids, those days, they read, they read... end result: they're still virgins at ten.
    • King Arthur is one of the only characters to dislike torture and public executions of criminals, and he allows them nonetheless. He also has several official mistresses, and not even his wife minds it. Every character find the idea of monogamy utterly ridiculous, and when a random woman Arthur has only met once refuses to become his new mistress, the other knights see it as an affront. And even then, many warlords dislike how much of a "progressive" the king is, which in their mind clearly means "pussy".
    • One episode has Arthur discussing various upcoming executions. Léodagan thinks burning them alive is still good, while the breaking wheel is a family event (everyone brings their staff and gets their turn beating the condemned to death), Lancelot supports drawing and quartering (it's more suspenseful, you don't know whether the arms or legs will come off first), as Arthur floats the idea of abolishing the death penalty. Everyone, including Lancelot, looks at him like he's crazy.
  • It's inevitable on The Knick, which is set in the year 1900 in New York City. Most of the white characters are casual racists, at least one of them is a hardcore social Darwinist, and most male characters are equally casually sexist.
    Dr. Algernon Edwards: Is your race listed on your credentials?
    Dr. John Thackery: There's no need for it to be.
  • Legends of Tomorrow regularly invokes this, being a show about Time Travel featuring a reasonably diverse cast. Examples include:
    • Jax and Amaya, the two crew members of colour, experiencing first-hand the horrors of Civil War-era slavery. Additionally, Jax's full name, Jefferson Jackson, is remarked upon as being composed of the names of two prolific slave owners by some slaves they meet.
    • Sara's bisexuality being considered shocking by various people throughout history.
    • Amaya, being from the 1940s, having some markedly different views compared to the rest of the cast, all of whom were born decades after her. Most notably, when the team visits the Vietnam War, she finds the behaviour of the GIs and the overall moral ambiguity of the conflict hard to reconcile with the more clear-cut and idealistic World War II.
    • Rex Tyler/Hourman of the JSA (also from the 1940s) assumes Martin Stein to be their leader by virtue of him being the eldest of the white men of the team.
  • Gene Hunt on Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes is a racist sexist gay-basher who gives out Police Brutality like presents. He still has enough redeeming qualities to qualify for Noble Bigot with a Badge, but essentially no one wouldn't want him on a modern police force.
  • In the Chilean series Los 80, which recounts the experiences of a Chilean middle-class family in the 1980s, Everybody Smokes, including fathers in front of their children, and when the father and head of the family loses his job, he feels humiliated because his wife must now look for a job to support the family.
  • Mad Men, set in the early 1960s:
    • Male characters smoke like chimneys, drink like fishes, and regularly display what would today be considered firing offenses with regards to sexually harassing female co-workers.
    • The women on the show also display period behavior, especially with regards to their married lives or with the actions of their female peers.
    • Decidedly non-kosher shrimp cocktails are served at a lunch meeting with a Jewish family note .
    • Peggy's gynecologist openly disparages his patient, up to and including accusing her of promiscuity, because she's an unmarried woman asking for birth control.
    • Pete Campbell's pragmatic idea of marketing TV sets to black people so disgusts the clients they almost drop Sterling Cooper.
    • One of the younger men working freelance for Sterling Cooper tells his colleagues he's gay, leading to awkward silence and people talking behind his back, and Betty nicknames her daughter "daddy's little lesbian" because of the daughter's love of handiwork.
    • Betty's low-speed car crash had the kids (restrained only by the friction of their clothing against the car's vinyl seats) thrown into the footwell.
    • One scene of the Drapers leaving all of their garbage behind after a picnic in a public park seemed so outlandish that some viewers wondered whether the show was accentuating the negative on purpose.
    • When Betty sees a psychologist, the psychologist reports to Don about Betty's progress in therapy. Nowadays, this would be considered a breach of doctor/patient confidentiality, but, at the time, a common attitude was that wives were expected to let their husbands make the serious decisions about their health.
    • Later in the series, however, it becomes clear that many of the reprehensible actions on the show are personal and not even fair for their day.
  • Mad TV:
    • A sitcom produced by the History Channel is about a medieval king who travels forward in time and had to work in a fast food joint. He is sexist, racist and casually violent but the characters constantly remind viewers his behavior was perfectly acceptable in his time.
    • Played for Cringe Comedy on the sketch Your New Neighbors. The skit is imagined as a 1956 infomercial. The father is a misogynist who orders his wife and daughter to get the door, the black family moving next door is greeted by the white family with a mixture of Stunned Silence, unintentionally racist remarks, and near violence, the narrator blames African Americans for the civil war, and the infomercial hawks asbestos products.
  • Merlin has rigid class structures be an obstacle for Arthur and Guinevere.
  • Frequently invoked on Mixed-ish, especially as the show features a mixed race black/white family in the 80's (the show notes that the Loving V. Virginia US Supreme Court decision striking down all bans on interracial marriage was decided only 18 years prior to when the series' events started), as well as the gender roles with Paul staying at home and Alicia being in the workplace as well as common racial microaggressions in the office.
  • In Modern Family, Gloria takes Lilly to get clothes and "hairings". Mitch agrees to this, not understanding that Gloria intended to pierce his child's ears. Gloria, being Colombian born where this is common and accepted, cannot understand Mitch's shock when his daughter returns with earrings.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Inspector Brackenreid refers to a woman with undiagnosed mental problems as an "imbecile". George is quick to correct him, "They don't use that word any more, it's insensitive. The accepted term is 'moron'."
    • There's a similar joke with Murdoch 'improving' on Brackenreid's "negro" with the term "coloured".
    • People who haven't met Julia are patronizing towards her at best and outright prejudiced at worst. Even the people she works with who have come to terms with her being a doctor don't view her as entirely equal; when it comes to light that some women have been dressing up as men and living double lives that way, Brackenreid rants (in her presence, mind) that women don't understand the complexities of life and are foolish for impersonating men.
    • Eugenics (the pseudo-science stating that only "genetically superior" people should be allowed to breed, thereby creating "genetically superior" offspring in an early form of designer babies) is depicted as a widely accepted scientific "truth".
    • The Catholic William Murdoch has deep reservations about abortion and homosexuality. He can't help but see them as sins, even if he's deeply troubled by the conflict between his religion and the pain he sees in the people who are discriminated against because of these things.
    • It's also stated that his religion is an impediment to his advancement on the force, due to the Protestant town elite's distrust of "papists".
    • People of African and Chinese descent are shown to continually suffer harassment and discrimination from groups ranging from the police to private restaurants. The effects of Canadian colonialism on First Nations people is also grimly depicted.
    • Inspector Brackenreid is a textbook example of a Noble Bigot with a Badge. He readily admits that a black murder suspect's race initially led him to think she was guilty, he arrests a group of Romani for a series of break-ins to further his political career (though he later lets them go once he tracks down the real thieves), and he dislikes Francophone people. However, he also subverts this trope by keeping Dr. Emily Grace's lesbianism a secret when he finds out about it, is perfectly civil to the black Rebecca James and is far ahead of his time in recognizing eugenics as nonsense.
  • A good amount of humor in Mystery Science Theater 3000 can be derived from this. For example, in the 1950s short "A Date With Your Family", Servo Gag Dubs for the teen daughter, "Daddy, I'm dating a Negro!"
  • Aurora in Once Upon a Time had a mild moment where she is in disbelief that there is a female warrior (Mulan) traveling and fighting alongside Prince Phillip. Part of it may be contributed to Green-Eyed Monster as she might have felt threatened by this beautiful, exotic Action Girl.
  • The Orville:
    • It's mentioned that humans in the future no longer have zoos, discussing it as a barbaric practice.
    • Marijuana is now openly accepted, to the point that it is possible to freely order pot brownies via the ship's food replicator.
    • Boxing and other "blood sports" stopped being practiced on Earth centuries ago.
    • Most Moclans are male, so the rare female is viewed as an aberration to be corrected. When the human crew points out the fact that gender is not an aberration in their societies, they are called out on it, with several Moclans noting that what is right for one species is not necessarily right for another.
    • Isaac is a member of the Kaylon, a xenophobic race of artificial beings. As time goes on, he becomes torn between the Kaylon's core values and his growing affection for humankind.
    • It's noted in "Krill" that space-faring societies tend to become very secular. The Krill are an exception, and their religion teaches that all other beings are on par with how we see bugs.
    • Darulio's people are apparently so casual about sex that they consider turning down an offer to roll in the sheets to be rude and are oblivious to the concept of consent.
  • Outlander:
    • This is often explored In-Universe since Claire is from the 1940s, finds herself transported back to the very different era of the 1740s, and experiences first-hand that some of the values and standards of the 1740s are... different. Claire's 18th-century husband Jamie is a very sympathetic character — but when Claire disobeys him and puts their group in danger, he feels morally obligated to take a belt to her bottom... It doesn't go well for anyone. Jamie later swears on his knife never to lay a hand on Claire again and she tells him — while they're having sex — that if he ever does, she'll cut his heart out and eat it for breakfast. Said while holding the knife to his throat, no less.
    • Jarring to modern audiences is Claire drinking alcohol during her Season 2 pregnancy in Paris. Yet, though Claire is an educated and well-versed nurse trained in the 20th century, she is still from the 1940s and even she couldn't have known alcohol use could have been harmful to her baby because it was not well-known before the 1970s.
    • Jamie's quite unhappy at seeing a photo of Brianna in her bikini which Claire shows him, since it's scandalously indecent for his time. He gets over it.
    • Even though it was to defend his mistress, Ulysses killing a white man means he must go underground.
  • Pan Am is also set in the 1960s and has some pretty clear examples in the way the stewardesses are treated, but others include the strong taboo against interracial relationships (shown in the outcome of the public display between Laura and a black sailor) and the treatment of women's sexuality.
  • Parks and Recreation:
  • Penny Dreadful: City of Angels: Endemic, casual racism from the nearly all-white LAPD (along with many civilians) is shown toward Latinos (plus other minorities mentioned). It's made clear that Townsend, who's gay, cannot be out about this (and a film of him having sex with a man is made for blackmail if necessary).
  • Perry Mason (2020):
    • The series explicitly shows the corruption and racism of Los Angeles in the early 1930s. While not explicit, Della has to stay in the closet about being lesbian due to homophobia too.
    • In the first episode, Perry starts smoking in the Dodsons’ house without asking permission and when Mrs. Dodson catches him, she’s not mad and he even offers her a cigarette. Nowadays smoking in a stranger’s house without permission would often get you thrown out of said house.
  • Pose has a lot of this, as it takes place in the 1980s. There is a lot more casual homophobia, and even within the gay community Blanca is thrown out of a gay bar for being black and trans. Additionally, the trans characters refer to themselves as "transsexual" as that was the "correct" term at that time.
  • Quantum Leap, all the time — for example, when Sam leaps into a black man in the pre-civil rights era South, or a secretary in 1961 who's being sexually harassed by her boss. One famous episode dealt with gay people in the military, and has Sam contend not only with the gay-bashing (and -killing) cadets at the academy, but his own partner Al, who doesn't believe gay people should be allowed to serve and changes his mind over the course of the episode.
  • Rome:
    • Lucius Vorenus is devoted to a code of honor that often seems barbaric from a modern point of view; at one point he's willing to kill his wife's illegitimate son to preserve honor. In Real Life ancient Rome, the man who did not put his wife's illegitimate newborn to death would be considered not just dishonorable but immoral. However, if the child was older and freeborn (or if the mother had been married to the biological father at the time of conception), killing it would be a felony punishable by death.
    • There was also a hilarious bit when Atia took a servant's rumors of Caesar and Octavian coming out of a pantry at the same time after making some strange noises (Caesar was having an epileptic fit) and ran with it. This also becomes a case of deliberate hypocrisy later when she beats Octavia for being in a lesbian relationship with Servilia, an enemy of the family, as immoral. Of course, in the show this relationship led to the downfall of Caesar, but that was a ways off and due to a single seemingly unimportant comment to all involved.
      Atia: For what reason, I wonder, would you and Caesar possibly be skulking around in a cupboard...?
      Octavian: What? We were... it was nothing.
      Atia: "Nothing"? It doesn't sound like nothing. [beams] You seduced him, you sly little fox!
      Octavian: I did not!
      Atia: I am not clear it is decent, him being your great uncle... but who's to say what's decent in times like these? In any case, well done. Let's see Servilia compete with a soft young boy like you. What power we shall wield...!
    • The final straw for the conspirators who assassinated Caesar? He had the gall of offering common Roman people and non-Roman conquered peoples a seat in the Senate... thus giving everyone a say (well, every male at least). This is offensive to the Patricians, while in the modern day and age it would be viewed as progressive and natural. As a result, the conspirators look less like freedom fighters for the Republic and more like Evil Aristocrats trying to preserve their own power.
    • Sex is treated very casually, sometimes to a hilarious degree. The teenage Octavian frequently gets chewed out by his mother for not having enough sex, and she eventually forces him to visit a brothel so that he won't dishonor his family by being a virgin. Earlier in Season 1, she also forces him to eat sheep testicles to make him more virile, telling him "When my mother's father was your age, there was not a slave girl safe!"
    • In Ancient Rome basically any sexual partner was acceptable for a free man, the only limits would be very young children, close blood relatives, another man's wife, or another man's daughter or slave (without permission). However, while homosexual encounters were not only tolerated and sometimes actively encouraged, it would have been shameful to be the receiving partner. This unspoken assumption that Every Man is Bi runs in the background of many interactions: i.e. Octavian is offered his choice of male and female Sex Slaves; meanwhile uber-macho Marc Antony doesn't bat an eyelid when Atia suggests he has had sex with a male slave, but the implication he would have taken the "woman's role" in such an encounter drives him into a violent fury.
    • Slavery is prevalent in Roman life and it is okay to beat them or have sex in front of them.
      • Slaves would rather die with their masters than live without them. The well-fed domestic slaves at least.
      • When Pullo kills Eirene's husband out of jealousy, Vorenus chastises him only for destroying his property and doing it indiscreetly.
      • Vorenus gets his share of the spoils from Alesia in slaves. When all but one of them die of the plague before he can sell them, the audience is moved by how bad this is for him and his family.
    • Anti-Semitism is just a normal part of Roman life. When Herod visits, the news reader announces that Jew mockery is to be kept at an "appropriate minimum".
    • Characters partake in pagan ceremonies shocking to modern audiences. Examples include Atia bathing in bull's blood for good fortune and Vorenus and Niobe having sex on a plot of land in front of their children for a good harvest.
    • Marriages occur as soon as couples are able to breed. Niobe apparently married Vorenus when she was just 13.
    • In Rome, A Real Man Is a Killer. Young Octavian has no qualms about killing. It's fighting he has no talent for.
    • Octavian bluntly proposes to his wife Livia while she is already married. Livia isn't remotely upset at the idea and both she and her mother are visibly excited at her trading up for a richer and more powerful husband. The fact that the two have a child isn't seen as any encumbrance to a swift divorce (in fact Livia's proven fertility is a selling point), it's simply assumed that Livia's husband will happily hand over his wife and child to another man as a matter of patriotic duty. And he does.
    • While a mob is about to batter down their front door, Atia and her household discuss their own suicides to avoid rape and dishonour. She wants to kill her daughter Octavia, and then have her head slave kill her, and then himself, since it would be improper for him to stay alive without her, to which he readily agrees. Octavia, who is still angry with her mother for an incident from earlier in the episode, protests that she would really rather be killed by someone else. Octavian asserts his independence by insisting on killing himself rather than letting someone else kill him, and Atia plays hostess by offering a visiting Servilia and Brutus the services of their slaves to kill them, which Servilia graciously declines, saying they'll "sort [themselves] out somehow". There's never any dispute that they will all kill themselves and each other, they're just quibbling over who will kill whom.
    • When one character suggests that she might like to marry someone she loves, her parents consider it very funny and remark that "strange marriage it would be" if a couple loved each other from the start.
  • Roots (1977). Black characters are always called "niggers"; a white sailor describes them as being essentially animals, their languages being no more than grunts. Rape of black women is widespread and accepted. The owners discuss how teaching them to read — if it be possible — would only make them unhappy. (Of course, the entire point of Roots is to describe this sort of thing.)
  • The Sopranos, in its desire to authentically depict the Italian-American criminal subculture, does not shy away from the casual racism, sexism, gay-bashing and Moral Myopia that are commonplace within it, even among the (by comparison) more sympathetic characters. Among other things, Tony disapproves that his daughter dates a black man in college; it's seen as normal for mafiosos to have affairs with women but a mob boss's wife having an affair is generally not tolerated; the crew are considering giving the gay Vito a pass for his homosexual activity until they find out he's the receiver; and even Tony's and Junior's Jewish friend catches a few slurs (clearly intended as affectionate, but the character often seems to be holding back irritation when it happens).
  • The Spy: Given that it's The '60s in the Middle East, being gay is out of the question. When Eli Cohen seems to register that Ma'avi has a sexual interest in him, he turns him away in disgust without even acknowledging the matter. Later, Cohen is advised to get a girlfriend so his cover identity isn't thought to be "funny in that way."
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Numerous in-universe examples between the various alien races that inhabit the series.
    • A particular is in "Tribunal", when Miles O'Brien is put on trial in a Cardassian court. The Cardassian justice system is based around the notion that the state is infallible and therefore anyone accused must be guilty and the entire trial process is nothing more than an elaborate prelude to confession and sentencing. To them the notion that anyone who is guilty might escape justice is barbaric. Miles's attorney is downright flummoxed when Miles tries to put up any form of defense — and is horrified when he wins the case.
    • Cardassian society has a few, very specific examples of or, more accurately, gender essentialism. While most occupations, e.g. art, law and the Obsidian Order are open to anyone, science and engineering are seen as strictly female professions, while the military is almost exclusively male. This does not mean one is more prestigious than the other, as prominent scientists are well respected and privileged, but any man trying to work in technical fields will find himself ostracised and with his work constantly scrutinised and criticisednote . Similarly, according to spin-off media, while women can join the military if they want, there is a significant glass ceiling and they tend not to rise above the equivalent of Lieutenant. However, medicine seems to be more egalitarian, as mention is made of several prominent male doctors and medical researchers (the most prominent Cardassian medical researcher, who might be described as Mengele if he had practiced the scientific method, is male).
    • In "Sons and Daughters", Martok dresses Worf down for stopping a knife fight in the mess hall. Martok considers the fight — between Worf's son Alexander and a more senior warrior — to have been a potentially important formative experience for Alexander, and sees Worf's intervention as a failing in both his capacity as the Rotarran's first officer, and as Alexander's father.
      Martok: Ch'Targh might have cut him a little and maybe broken a few bones, but nothing more. You told me Alexander never wanted to be a warrior. Clearly he has changed his mind. Worf, you are his First Officer. Teach him to survive. The Jem'Hadar will be less forgiving than Ch'Targh.
    • Cardassian art — and Cardassian attitudes towards others' art — are in-universe versions of this trope. Garak, for example, claims that Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is not tragedy to the Cardassian perspective — that such a great man could not see the plotting all around him could only be the stuff of farce. Meanwhile, Bashir finds a Cardassian genre, the "repeating epic", to be boring — the same things happening to different members of the same family over generations (the most well-regarded repeating epic, "The Never-Ending Sacrifice", details seven generations of a Cardassian family's selfless service to the state). Garak claims that the repeating epic is the highest form of Cardassian storytelling art. And in "Improbable Cause", after Dr. Bashir tells him the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", Garak argues that the actual Aesop isn't "Don't lie", but rather "Don't tell the same lie twice".
      • Another note from the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" example, when Bashir reveals the boy's ultimate fate of the wolf gobbling him up, Garak is horrified that this is supposed to be a children's story. Cardassians are very family oriented to the point that abuse of one's own child is a career ending scandal. (Of course, this only appears to apply to legitimate children — killing an illegitimate child to "protect" one's official family, while not openly condoned, is apparently common enough that Dukat seems honestly baffled by why Kira is so vehemently opposed to letting him do so.)
    • "Far Beyond The Stars" pulls no punches in showing the racism and sexism of 1950s New York City, right down to the only occurrence of the N-word in the Trek franchise.
    • For the Ferengi, Capitilism is a religion while the rest of the cast have post scarcity economy and have no need for wealth. When a terrorist attack occurs on Earth (the first in 100 years), Quark does offer what seems to be a genuine sympathy by saying he felt the same way during a major market crash on his home planet. Miles and Julian don't see this as remotely close comparison and Quark is offended by this.
    • Not just the Federation, but this comes up in the Dominion ranks as well. The Vorta are political officers to the Jem'Hadar and the two have no understanding of each other despite both serving the founders as gods. The Vorta are pragmatic schemers and the Jem'Hadar are spartan honorable warriors and the latter respect the former because their gods said too, but view them as dishonorable, while the Vorta see the Jem'Hadar as disposable. Ironically, the Jem'Hadar respect the Federation and the Klingons as they can understand that they both have rules of engagement. In a twist, Sisko meets a Jem'Hadar commander that is willing to kill a Vorta for all the trouble the Vorta puts him through, but a later episode reveals that this one is the one out of cultural step with his people: The Jem'Hadar will follow a Vorta's commands no matter what, even if it's quite clear the Vorta is trying to get the entire unit killed by walking into a trap.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • When a simulation of Abraham Lincoln is projected onto the Enterprise, he immediately notices Uhura is black, noting "What a charming Negress." This is a bit of an inaccurate portrayal, as although some of the plans Lincoln advocated early in his life regarding slaves (such as the government buying them, freeing them, and then sending them to Liberia) would seem bothersome today due to Values Dissonance, he was remarked about at least once for not reminding people of their race.
      Frederick Douglass: In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color.
    • Uhura's response is an example as well; she implies that humanity has "outgrown" categorizing people by race, or being offended by archaic labels such as "Negress". Needless to say, while there are those who believe we should aspire to this, we're not there yet.
    • In another episode, the crew finds Zefram Cochrane on a planetoid being cared for by an energy being, which he assumes to be asexual. When it is revealed to be female and in love with him he is horrified, much to the bafflement of the 23rd century crewmembers. Spock even calls his reaction a "provincial attitude". Specifically, it's the alien part that bothered him, not the 'female' part.
    • A lot of episodes dealt with alien cultures which often starkly depart from human values in some way. For instance, one planet has an annual day-long orgy of violence and destruction while they are endlessly polite and controlled the rest of the year; one world modeled their culture on the prohibition era, with murder and lawlessness as the norm; at least two planets practice slavery, one of them with televised gladiatorial fights; two planets are engaged in a centuries-long war which has essentially become a massive LARP with people willingly committing suicide if a computer decides they had died; etc.
  • Strange Empire runs on this trope, considering the show's primary purpose is to show exactly how awful the Wild West was for anyone who wasn't white, straight and male. (Specific attention is given to female (especially prostituted women), Native American, Black (ex-slave), Chinese, lesbian, transgender, and mentally atypical perspectives.)
  • Stranger Things doesn't shy away from some of the less squeaky clean parts of the '80s, such as the very pervasive homophobia or the rather casual attitude towards bullying.
    • Two teenagers buying bear traps, a sledgehammer, nails, gasoline and revolver ammo in bulk from a hardware store doesn't get much from the clerk beyond a weird look. In a post-Columbine world, they never in a million years would've gotten away with that purchase.
    • And of course, Everybody Smokes. Even when on the job and around their kids.
  • Taken:
    • In "Beyond the Sky", two Army Air Force officers listening to the radio on July 7, 1947 hear that Larry Doby has become the second black player to break baseball's color barrier after Jackie Robinson in April of that year. One of the officers says that there is no turning back after "letting them in" while the other believes that it is the end of the world as they know it.
    • In "High Hopes", Owen Crawford takes up smoking to relieve tension at the request of his doctor in October 1962. In "Acid Tests", he dies of a stroke on May 4, 1970, which may have brought on by his smoking.
    • Also in "High Hopes", two young black men enter the diner in Ogden, Utah where Russell and Jesse are having lunch on October 18, 1962 and order a cup of coffee. The owner Gus pours them a cup and spits in it. A racist diner patron then fires his shotgun through the window at the two men but Jesse pushes them out of the way. Russell, who visibly disapproved of the racist attitudes of the other white people in the diner, later asks Jesse if "those two colored guys" were alright after he recovers from his seizure, having heard the shooting.
  • Torchwood has Clem, a 60+ year old man had been in a fugue state since he was about twelve, spout this Non Sequitur after he had already smelled that Gwen was pregnant.
    Clem: [Indicating Ianto] So who's the Queer?
    [Ianto turns around, outraged]
    Ianto: OI!!! This is not 1965 anymore!
    Clem: [matter-of-fact] He's a Queer — I can smell it.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "No Time Like the Past", Hanford, one of Paul Driscoll's fellow boarders in Homeville, Indiana in 1881, expounds at length on his views regarding American imperialism at dinner. He believes that the United States will remain isolated and weak if it does not expand its sphere of influence by conquering the Orient and Australia before going back across the Pacific to South America. Hanford repeatedly says that they must plant the American flag as they go. He also believes that the US government was too conciliatory to the Native Americans during the Indian Wars five years earlier, describing them as "savages" and "Redskins" who should have been wiped out by 20 George Custers leading 100,000 men.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "The Once and Future King", Mr. Harris, Elvis Presley's boss at the Crown Electric Company in Memphis, Tennessee, is disgusted that the Elvis Impersonator Gary Pitkin has a picture of a "nigger" on his undershirt. Gary, a time traveler from 1986, is wearing a Chuck Berry T-shirt.
    • In "The Junction", Ray Dobson, a miner trapped in a cave-in in 1912, is initially reluctant to let John Parker, a similarly trapped African-American miner from 1986, touch him. He later notes that he didn't know that there were any "colored" working on his shift. When John suggests that Ray talk to his union rep as he only makes $50 per month, Ray angrily tells him that the only union men in the mine are dead ones.
  • The Unusuals has the episode "The Circle Line", which is a forty-three-minute-long attempt to justify the "blue wall".
  • Victoria: Naturally, as a period piece, there is a lot of this. Victoria is distrusted by even her uncle as a female monarch who is felt to need a man's supervision. Lord Melbourne, though a liberal and progressive for his time, refers to the Chartist petition for universal suffrage, among other "radical" reforms, as impossible (all are taken for granted now). Even Victoria scoffs at the idea of women having the right to vote. All Truth in Television, of course.
  • Warm Springs is a 2005 HBO movie about Franklin Roosevelt's recovery from paralysis. Set in The Roaring '20s, the treatment of physically handicapped people as deviants can disgust the modern viewer. A teenage polio victim is locked in a baggage car and starved. Franklin's mother refers to the spa as a "leper colony". The film portrays Roosevelt's understanding of this injustice as turning him into the man that would fight human suffering as president.
  • The War of the Worlds: In order to make its point about the evil of imperialism, the series shows just how widely popular this was, with British government officials publicly touting it early on.
  • In the PBS game show, Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego, Kevin is sometimes met with In-Universe Values Dissonance, especially in the Cluefinder sketches involving someone from the future. Among other people, we meet a 13th century barber surgeon who uses leeches and bloodletting to cure people, a Proper Lady from 1892 who thinks her sister is practically naked for wearing bloomers, and an Ellis Island official from c. 1900 who changes the names of immigrants because she can't understand what they are trying to say.
  • The White Queen: In the final episode, Queen Anne, consort of King Richard III, becomes upset with her husband because she believes he is having an affair with his niece, Elizabeth of York. He explains that he is not, he is just deliberately creating the rumor that he is, because Henry Tudor, a rival claimant to the throne, had betrothed himself to Elizabeth. Therefore, by making people believe that he is sleeping with her, Richard is, in effect, cuckolding his adversary, humiliating Tudor and costing him political support. Of course, to a modern audience, the idea of a man having an affair with his own niece is much worse than the idea of a man's fiancée cheating on him (especially when they are forced to live apart from each other for a long time), and certainly much worse for one's political career. However, the show leaves at least some ambiguity about whether Richard was being sincere in his explanation to Anne, and about whether there really was an affair. note 
  • Wolf Hall shows just how fragile a woman's life was in the 1500s. Katherine of Aragon is discarded for being unable to provide a male heir and it's taken as read that her daughter Mary can't become regent not because of her ill constitution but her gender. Anne Boleyn's position depends solely on whether or not she can give birth to a healthy boy and when she doesn't, Henry disposes of her in even more brutal fashion. Her father and uncle don't care because her only value was as influence with the king; her uncle also wishes he could dispose of his wife because she's old and he doesn't want to have sex with her anymore (or rather, she's the same age as him). Jane Seymour's brothers discuss her as a commodity to be traded right to her face. For all this, both of Henry's daughters would become England's first Queens Regnant, and Elizabeth's long reign was so iconic that her name is now used to describe the era.


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