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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 Best 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 amount of quality goods.
  • One episode of Angel showed he lived in LA in the fifties. We see scenes like a black family getting turned away from a hotel and his neighbor probably being gay.
  • 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.
  • The Babylon 5 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.
  • Boardwalk Empire is set in the 1920s, and well, here are some of the highlights:
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    • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 traveller 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) 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.
  • 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.
  • In Firefly slavery is OK for some people, entire villages see nothing wrong with kidnapping travellers, 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. Notably, this draws criticism from feminist groups, due to the in-universe admiration Companions earn, while forgetting the much less appealing portrayal of life for more ordinary prostitutes. (To wit: 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 and everybody, even their allies turn on them.
    • 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. However 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. 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 being 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 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.
  • 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, 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".
  • 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 most people wouldn't want him on a modern police force.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • It's a Running Gag that all of the murals in Pawnee's City Hall are incredibly racist. They proudly depict various sordid events in the town's history that are shocking by today's standards. Leslie shows them off with some embarrassment:
      "She was one of the first feminist leaders in Pawnee! She was the first to dare wearing pants on a Sunday, she spent 30 years in prison for that."
      "In 1867, the progressive Reverend Turnbill officiated a wedding between a white woman and a Wamapoke Indian chief. The secret ceremony was beautiful and romantic. But then word got out and the reception was a bloodbath. Fortunately, there were two survivors. Unfortunately, they were both horses."
    • In one episode, we find out that every year, the entire town uses an obscure, misprinted loophole in the town charter to legally harass a man named Ted. Ted finally becomes fed up and decides to use other obscure clauses in the town charter, namely the extremely racist and sexist ones, to bully Tom and Leslie and teach them a lesson about why the laws of the Pawnee founders shouldn't be held in such reverence.
    • Leslie, looking forlorn, stands in front of a map of Pawnee. The map is blue, with a few scattered white dots on it.
      Leslie: This is a map of all the atrocities the Pawnee settlers inflicted upon the Wamapoke Indians.
      [beat]
      Leslie: The atrocities are in blue.
  • 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 will 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 about how bad this is 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 in 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. There's never any dispute that they will all kill themselves and each other, they're just quibbling over who will kill whom.
  • 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).
  • 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".
    • "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.
  • 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.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "No Time Like the Past", after the main character decides to live out the rest of his life in the year 1881, he gets into a conversation about global politics with someone from that time. The native goes on about how war is the best measure of the strength of a nation and that the United States should fight wars of conquest against Asia and South America. This angers the main character who says that going down that road will lead to disaster and untold loss of life. (He's right.) He is criticized for this belief. Of course, the whole point of that episode was to show that Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be.
  • 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 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.
  • 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. Of course, 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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