Follow TV Tropes

Following

Unfortunate Implications / Live-Action TV

Go To

Please remember to cite your sources so we have proof it's not just one person's thinking! Citations are done as follows:

  • Blah Story Blah Blah Circumstance Blah Blah Implication Blah. Example Website

  • The citation needs to record the opinions of several people; a citation that mentions only one person isn't enough.
  • The citation should be in a reputable source. We'd prefer you cite something a bit more formal than someone's Tumblr blog. Anyone can write a blog post and then call it a "citation".
  • Advertisement:
  • Also, citations stuck behind paywalls or mandatory logins don't count. If people can't see your proof, then it doesn't prove much.

Keep in mind that Unfortunate Implications are unintentional. An intended offensive message (for example, a piece of Axis propaganda about Jews) does not belong here, nor does natter about the author's true intentions.


  • The Briefcase was a 2015 CBS reality TV show described as poverty pornography, about two struggling families deciding whether to keep a briefcase of money or give it to the other family.
  • In the Mexican Soap Opera La rosa de Guadalupe, as stated in this blog, there are quite a few misconceptions about Asperger Syndrome, making it seem like something that makes people violent, and a Fate Worse than Death. Not only that, but apparently, Aspergers can now be cured, you don't even need a doctor or anything.
  • True Blood:
      Advertisement:
    • As this article shows, the series has a tendency to downplay rape with sentences such as "I was almost raped in Dallas, but this is so much worse." In the series, women are very often victimized and their safety tends to depend on the men. The Hemo Erotic nature of vampire/human relationships does not help either. Sookie could be viewed as someone who voluntarily seeks out emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships with vampires like Bill and Eric. She knows that they are murderers and that they do things such as Mind Control people. But it is treated as something to be overlooked because they are sexy.
    • A rape victim is actually considered deserving of his fate because he really got around and because of his gender. The character in question is Jason Stackhouse.
      Alan Ball: It’s kind of interesting to see the kind of guy who really gets his sense of worth from his sexual prowess to all of a sudden to be kind of objectified and sort of [laughs] used against his will.note 
  • Doctor Who:
      Advertisement:
    • Susan Foreman of was not originally intended to be the Doctor's granddaughter, but a writer created the family tie because of the connotations of an older man traveling around with an attractive young woman.
    • The TARDIS Eruditorum has observed that it's uncomfortable watching "The Daleks", which has a theoretically anti-racist moral but also uses Beauty Equals Goodness and presents the Inhumanly Beautiful Race as resembling Aryan supermen — not least that Carole Ann Ford, the actress playing Susan, is Jewish and is asked to say dialogue calling them "perfect". This was also lampshaded indirectly in the Big Finish Doctor Who drama The Alchemists, set in 1930s Germany, where Susan remarks that a young Nazi SS officer looks "almost Thal-like", while herself receiving negative comments based on her dark-eyed appearance.
  • Star Trek:
    "By calling attention to the elephant in the room, they've unwittingly drawn attention to the mammoth standing next to it."
  • The Newsroom:
    • There have been many criticisms of the portrayal of female characters in the series. These tend to center around how female characters tend to have their competence undercut by naiveté/personal problems to a greater extent than do male ones, and are often corrected on their ignorance by male characters. While improved over the course of the series, these features stood out because at least in initial episodes, the supposed competence of the female characters was an Informed Ability.
    • The show's penultimate episode "Oh, Shenandoah." drew a great deal of criticism over the subject of rape accusations, the potential for false accusations, and which party, if either, should be treated as correct. In the episode, a woman who accused a man of rape but found no justice with the police or college made a website where women can anonymously accuse men of rape. Don interviews both the man and the woman in turn, and tells the woman, whom he admits is credible and has no reason to lie, that he is "morally obligated" to believe the man, whom he regards as "sketchy", just on the off chance that she could be lying. The Internet lit the fuck up, with many critics launching the accusation that Sorkin was again using men to correct women and mitigate their concerns, this time in the worst way possible.
  • Many a Lifetime Movie of the Week featuring women being beaten to near-death have been repeated over and over and over and over again on broadcast television. One Movie of the Week produced by CBS in 1993 dealt with a male victim of Domestic Abuse. This film, Men Don't Tell, never aired on that channel again, though Lifetime snuck in a few repeat showings. At least one reviewer discussed this disparity and pointed out exactly what message this was sending in an article in the New York Times.
  • This review of Hemlock Grove points out that, for a show that tries to "shake up" the horror genre, it still kills off a good chunk of its female cast, especially the ones who are sexually active.
  • For the 13th season of Survivor (Cook Islands), the tribes were separated by race. Although this meant that there much more racial diversity in a show that had previously been very monochrome, and the tribes were mixed up after only two episodes, many viewers couldn't help but feel offended by the stunt, finding it reminiscent of Jim Crow-era segregation.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • There have been issues with how the show treats homosexuality. Raj is repeatedly given effeminate quirks. His relationship with Howard is once outright said to be a replacement for a traditional heterosexual relationship that neither can get, with the idea being that it's sad and pathetic as claimed by a professional and well-renowned psychologist, and his later close relationship with possibly bi Stuart is treated similarly. Asexual Sheldon was noted prior for subverting usual sitcom standards by having no interest in women until they decided to add in a female love interest to avoid people thinking he was gay (ironically, his actor actually is).
    • The show has additionally attracted criticism for portraying Sheldon and Amy as characters who embody characteristics of neurological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder but play them as nothing beyond the butt of ridicule, with the implication of neurodivergence being both a nuisance and an acceptable target being seen as representative of a still-pervasive culture of ableism within western media.
    • The stereotype that women cannot be comic book, sci-fi, or video game geeks, no matter how nerdy they are, has not gone unnoticed.
    • This two part series on the show discusses the show's more problematic elements when it comes to gender politics, such as treating sexism as a harmless joke or promoting toxic masculinity.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Fans have expressed disapproval over how the show treats potential matters of race, due mostly to killing off non-white characters in the show who are still alive in the books or having them played by lighter-skinned actors; a particularly egregious example is having two black characters from the books, mother and (adult) daughter prostitutes Chayata and Alayaya, replaced with the Caucasian Ros. As well, there's the problem that the most significant use of characters of color, in Essos, has them as little more than means to an end for a "white savior" (Daenerys Targaryen).
    • While the book and show do feature a lot of sexual violence, the show has also been accused of sexualizing violence and using rape for cheap shock value, in the case of the latter devaluing the seriousness of rape itself. This treatment of sexual violence has gotten a lot of negative reactions from fans.
    • As of Season 5, there have been issues and some fan disapproval regarding how the show treats religion and religious people. Several religions and religious institutions in the show are hit with Adaptational Villainy, especially the Faith of the Seven, three religious characters from the books - Brienne, Sansa, and Davos - are changed into irreligious people despite how out-of-place it is in a medieval setting, and any morally good religious characters are either Adapted Out or killed off (as was the case with show-only Septon Ray). It's gotten to the point where the showrunners have been accused of anti-religion bias and trying to push it through the show. This interpretation only gains weight in light of the fact that one of the showrunners, David Benioff, was also responsible for the film Troy, in which the Greek heroes were practically all stripped of the piety they showed in the Iliad, and the few remaining people's belief in the gods was used to highlight their own stupidity.
    • The final two episodes were regarded by many commentators as sexist in their implications. The execution of Dany "breaking bad", which is closely linked to Jon rejecting her and putting her down like Old Yeller, flimsy In the Blood justifications by Varys and others that she was always destined to be evil because of her father, as well as framing the conflict between Dany and Cersei as Evil vs. Evil, essentially amounts to saying that God Save Us from the Queen! is the only end result of any woman on the Iron Throne. To make matters worse, the third major female character who is elevated to Queen status does so by abandoning all of her compassion, screws over her own siblings for political gain, informs another character that she essentially was glad she was raped because it made her a stronger person able to discard said compassion as if it was a childish thing, and the script notes said that she was inherently antagonistic towards Daenerys to begin with because Dany was "prettier than her".
  • Glee:
    • The storyline about Quinn trying to get Beth back was criticized by adoption advocates for giving a bad image of open adoptions, as well as just factual inaccuracy (i.e. once the birth parents sign away their parental rights, they're gone for good, so if the adoptive parent is declared to be "unfit," the child is taken into foster care, not given to the birth parents). They petitioned the show to do a PSA dispelling myths about adoption; so far, nothing has come of it, but the controversial storyline also seems to have been wrapped up.
    • Kurt's behavior in "Grilled Cheesus" was treated as unreasonable, but was it, really? It would be one thing to tell friends they're not allowed to pray, but they went beyond praying — they made a big show of being religious in his dad's waiting room, despite the fact that no one except Carol, Finn, and maybe Mercedes actually knew Burt, and Rachel, the person in the room who was the least close to Burt (tied with Quinn), was the one who does the solo over his bedside. Also, Mercedes wouldn't accept Kurt's atheism until he went to church with her, but Kurt is supposed to be the intolerant one? No wonder some atheists got really pissed off.
    • Kurt's speech to Blaine (who is questioning his sexuality) in "Blame It On The Alcohol", where he states that bisexuality doesn't exist and that men claiming to be bisexual are really just closeted gay people. While it could just be dismissed as Kurt holding the Jerkass Ball, and Blaine does call him out on his insensitivity, the fact that Kurt is validated at the end of the episode combined with his usual history of being seen as an Author Avatar regarding LGBT issues was seen by many viewers as a case of the show being biphobic. Not helping were comments from Ryan Murphy made soon after regarding the fact that Blaine is 100% gay that "it’s very important to young kids that they know this character [Blaine] is one of them", as if bisexual kids don't matter. Especially considering male bisexuality has even less representation in the media than male homosexuality does.
      • The controversy got reignited after "Tina In the Sky With Diamonds", where Santana spends half of her courtship with Dani panicking over having no "real" experience since she dated a bisexual woman, and the other half sighing in relief that she didn't have to worry about her girlfriend "straying for penis". Between implying that bisexuals aren't "real" members of the LGBT community, claiming that they're unfaithful and promiscuous by nature, and wrongfully smearing Brittany's character (Brittany didn't even end the relationship between her and Santana — Santana did), viewers got angry.
    • Kurt, in general, has been accused of being an unflattering stereotype of gay people. While Kurt is commended for his courage in not hiding his sexuality and standing up to adversity, he is also rather disliked by many gay viewers for being hard to identify with due to his extreme Camp Gay tendencies or criticized for doing more harm than good for representation of gay people in the media. On top of that is resentment over the above-mentioned issues and the way he's seen as a mouthpiece for controversial views expressed by some portions of the gay community that are not necessarily shared by the rest of its members.
  • One of the criticisms of Joss Whedon's Firefly was the fact that despite taking place in a future where China was a massive superpower and Chinese influence could be felt in everything from dialogue to clothing, there were almost no actual Chinese (or indeed any Asian) characters in the show. Even the Tam siblings, who had a Chinese surname, were played by white actors.note 
  • And prior to that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was subject to criticism about its treatment of minority characters, namely the fact that there were very few of them, and the ones that did exist had a nasty habit of getting killed off.
  • Merlin:
    • The treatment of female characters was bad enough for commentator Dave Bradley to write an article on the subject, pointing out that without exception, all its female characters were either a Distressed Damsel, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or a Disposable Woman.
    • The Problem of Morgana points out that Morgana's Face–Heel Turn is presented as her choosing the dark side - except she only becomes evil because she gets her trust betrayed by a friend who thought killing her was more convenient than revealing his secret, and is presented as irredeemable despite being a victim of everyone else's meddling. That one of the show's only prominent female characters is robbed of any agency in her own story, and has her fate dictated by the males around her did not go unnoticed.
  • Teen Wolf:
  • Season 8 of the American version of The Amazing Race provided a rare funny example. The season was an experiment with family teams of four rather than teams of two of different relationships. The only non-white family was a black family whose surname happened to be, well, Black. Cue the Cringe Comedy of them always being called “the Black family” both by the other teams and by the show itself. They were the first team eliminated so at least the unintentional hilarity didn’t last.
  • The Disney Channel has been criticized for playing Jerkass, bullying behavior for laughs in many of their live action shows, as well as portraying adults as useless and continuously implying that girls need to be attractive over being kind, smart, or successful. This is especially unfortunate given the target audience for such shows are tweens, who are likely to emulate such behavior.
    • There have also been at least two Disney Channel shows — So Random! and Shake it Up — that got flak for making light of eating disorders. When Demi Lovato (who had left Disney Channel to go into rehab for her own eating disorder) called the network out, both episodes were pulled until the offending jokes were edited out.
  • 2 Broke Girls had been accused many times of showing negative stereotypes of various characters, including Han Lee, an Asian American character who is the boss of the diner. Many viewers felt that the show was showing negative stereotypes of Asian Americans through Han’s character, which includes speaking in broken English and not understanding American culture very well. It only dug itself deeper with this one joke that goes:
    “I’m in a casual flirtation with a woman in Australia! She’s part Aboriginal, but has a great personality!”
  • Homeland:
    • There has been criticism of the show's depiction of Muslims and the Middle East in general. Whether seemingly westernized and educated or ignorant and fanatical, the overwhelming bulk of the show's "Muslim" cast has ended up being linked to the terrorists in one way or another. The Islam of Homeland is presented almost like a monolith, with Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda teaming up to kill Americans without complicated ideas like "Shia" and "Sunni" being introduced to complicate such a team-up or acknowledging that Hezbollah has never targeted the United States for an attack. The show's presentation of Hamra Street in Beirut — in reality, a bustling and cosmopolitan area with shops and cafes — as a dirty haven for terrorists and armed militias even led Lebanon to threaten legal action.
    • The third season makes things worse by making the entire nation of Iran the enemy and by making Javadi a cartoonish Evil Muslim who stabs his ex-wife to death because all Muslims are Straw Misogynists. Iran, a country whose people once held candlelight vigils for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, is here shown as a place where everyone cheers Brody the suspected terrorist when they discover who he is, with the CIA bomber quickly becoming a national hero.
  • Jersey Shore: They portrayed all Italian-Americans as drunken, steroid-fueled party kids and Hard Drinking Party Girls. In addition to several Italian-American groups, Kevin Smith (a New Jersey native) commented that it's an Italian equivalent to the early 20th-century practice of "cooning", where black entertainers played to the "Uncle Tom" stereotype.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has garnered a lot of flack for casting Jane Krakowski, a white Polish-American, as a Native American pretending to be Caucasian and hiding her past.
  • De Nieuwe Orde lampshades in the second episode the problems that arise from All Germans Are Nazis, since one of the interviewed of that episode is clearly pro-Nazi Germany, saying that this trope is one proof (among with many other reasons, such as the idea that people had more freedom there) that everyone was happy under the Nazi regime. Maurice De Wilde himself then answers back by saying that there was German resistance, but that the Nazis themselves hid it away from the public. The interviewed man promptly ignores it.
  • El Chavo del ocho has several gay jokes, including Don Ramon's famous Catchphrase: "Yo le voy al Necaxa" (I support the Necaxa [soccer team]) this is because the followers of the Puebla (Necaxa's rival team) were accused to be gay. But probably the most inappropriate example was an episode in which Don Ramón and Profesor Jirafales are mistaken to be homosexuals and the rest of the cast reacts with anger, fear, and disgust. This will be very offensive for modern audiences, especially in some very liberal parts of Mexico like Mexico City (where the show is supposed to happen), a very progressive place and the first part of Mexico in legalizing same-sex marriage.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: A prominent episode guide noted that in the episode Night of the Hawk the behavior of Sara Lance — an established bisexual — promoted the stereotype that bisexuals are only after casual sex. Sara determines that one of the nurses at the 1950s' hospital she's infiltrating is a lesbian and begins to woo said nurse, dismissing her teammate's concerns over what her eventual abandonment of this woman once their mission is complete and they return to their own time will do to her.
  • The Price Is Right had a short-lived pricing game in 1978 called "Shower Game", where the contestant had to guess which of six shower stalls had the correct price of a car. Complaints soon ensued from viewers that its rules and setup reminded them of The Holocaust, which ended over 30 years earlier. While this wasn't why the game was retired, the complaints probably didn't help its case.
  • One episode of House called "Better Half" sent the message that asexuals are all either in denial or have a hormone imbalance, accusations real-life asexuals have to deal with from people who don't realize (or don't care) that it's a legitimate orientation. The asexual community was not pleased by this.
  • During the 2016 Oscars, host Chris Rock spoke about the #oscarssowhithe controversy, which sought to bring attention to the lack of representation by ethnic minorities in Oscar nominated films. His gag, that the Oscar ballots were counted by some Asian kids, had many labeling Rock a hypocrite.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
      • The show took criticism for having the first super powered threat be an Angry Black Man. Later episodes with this character in the first season may have made things worse. Most of the criticism appears to stem, however, from individuals unfamiliar with the character Deathlok, who Peterson was always intended to become and who, by the end of season 1 and into season 2, was not an "angry black man" at all, but a hero.
      • "Yes Men" was a clumsy attempt at a female empowerment story that managed to garner accusations of sexism from both sides. For women, it was the episode's need to "justify" Sif's presence in the plot by having a Villain of the Week only a woman could defeat, and for having the first major female supervillain to appear on the show be a seductress. For men, it was the episode's sentiment that "men are weak", which is echoed by several heroic characters and never contested, as well as the treatment of Grant Ward, who is brainwashed and raped by the female villain, the implications of which are ignored.
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • It had been brought up that out of all the stereotyped criminal organizations in Wilson Fisk's criminal enterprise in season 1, the Chinese and Japanese are essentially modern-day Yellow Peril cliches. Moreover, there's the fact that they're basically not even considered human (Matt killing Nobu isn't even counted as a blip on his moral radar, despite his Catholic guilt and Thou Shalt Not Kill being a huge part of his character). Doesn't help that canon-wise they are not human: Gao is clearly supernatural and Nobu is undead (as Nobu reappears towards the end of season 2).
      • The second season also came under fire. The need to equate the Asian gangs and ninjas comes across as a bit racist, as does the fact that the one decent person tied to The Hand is Stan Gibson, a white accountant who is being forced to help them against his will. In fact, Iron Fist (2017) takes steps to make the Hand a lot more ethnically diverse: Madame Gao uses Caucasian, Mestizo Latina, and African-American women to market her heroin; Radovan's jailer, King, seems of Middle-Eastern origin; Danny gets pitched against a pair of Slav brothers; Bakuto's camp includes black and Hispanic kids, etc.
      • Some people take issues with the way the show treats Matt Murdock's potential love interests. Namely, that Matt takes great pains to hide the darker aspects of his personality from the white Karen Page, being very chivalrous and gentle with her, but is hostile and abrasive with the Afro-Latina Claire and the French-Cambodian Elektra, continuing an unfortunate media trend wherein white women are seen as the "happily ever after" instead of non-white ones. The article also takes issue with the way Karen has quite a few men who shield her from harm compared to Elektra and Claire, who only ever have Matt or have no one at all. Or that whenever Karen does get injured, the injuries disappear to avoid tarnishing her appearance, but the same is not said for Claire or Elektra.
    • Iron Fist (2017):
      • Particular ire has fallen on the Mighty Whitey overtones of a scene where Danny lectures Colleen about East Asian philosophy and the true nature of martial arts in her own dojo. Bad enough in-universe, and worse when you consider that everything he's saying is based on a fictional martial art made up in the '70s. Though she does get her own back a couple of episodes later when she calls out Danny's sword work (using a traditional Japanese katana like a Chinese sword) and shows him the proper technique, to which he calls her amazing.
      • As one review put it, "It blows my mind that despite the sheer number of people who worked on this episode no one flagged that it would be a bad idea to have Danny chastise a room full of black and brown students by calling them 'chattering monkeys.' It's stuff like that that makes me hesitant to give the show the benefit of the doubt when it comes to issues of representation. If the creators aren't even aware of basic racially charged language, how am I supposed to trust that they've thought out the racial politics of their show?"
  • Done In-Universe in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring The Time Travelers where Jonah calls out the movie for using an actor with an actual deformity to portray one of the mutants.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • Throughout the series, some feel there is a running theme that the only success for a woman is raising a family, leading to some claiming the show made female characters into nothing more than just a walking uterus. There's also talk of how it reduces the value of the gang's friendship and every message about how important it is by having them split up, essentially saying that his friends had no value outside of how they got Ted and Robin together.
    • The Season 9 episode, "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra," got a lot of criticism on the Yellow Face. Carter Bays admits that they were trying to pay homage to the Kung Fu movies that they grew up on and apologized to people who were offended.
  • In 2017, Netflix ran a short-lived show starring Naomi Watts as a psychotherapist who gets overly involved in her patients' lives. The series was titled Gypsy, a word now considered a racial slur for the Romani people, which the creators didn't seem to realize. The resulting controversy was discussed briefly by Bleeding Cool and in-depth by Bitch Magazine.
  • The Orville's episode "Cupid's Dagger" drew the ire of both viewers and reviewers for its poor grasp of sexual consent. Darulio is essentially guilty of three known counts of date rape (by way of estrus pheromones that evidently work on humans) by the end of the episode, which is ignored completely. The episode was made worse by its real-world timing, having aired amidst a wide-ranging spate of sexual misconduct scandals that started with Hollywood casting mogul Harvey Weinstein being publicly accused of crimes up to and including rape.
  • Pretty Little Liars took a massive flak broadside when it revealed that A was actually Ce Ce Drake, formerly known as Mister Charles DiLaurentis. This was heavily criticized for playing into negative stereotypes about transgender women, in that they're deceitful crossdressing men at best and depraved, violent, and insane at worst. The fact that the character wasn't played by a transgender actress either did not help matters.
  • When one strips away the various pieces of flat-out wrong information produced on Ancient Aliens, it can fall into this: a great deal of the "alien" artifacts or human sites built "with alien assistance" are from pre-Columbian civilizations or sub-Saharan Africa, the implication being that these civilizations were too backward or stupid to create such impressive structures. For instance, the show once claimed that Puma Punku, a fifth-century Aymara site in the Bolivian Andes, was "the only site created directly by extra-terrestrials". At the same time as Puma Punku was constructed, the Romans were building equally-if-not-more advanced stone structures... but of course those stupid Amerindians couldn't build anything white people could, they must have been helped by aliens!note  It's not hugely far-removed from the 19th-century theories that Great Zimbabwe was built by "southern Jews". In fact, many such claims do date back to 19th century theories which claimed ancient artifacts in Africa and the Americas were built by lost white people. Modern theories just replace this with aliens (though some white supremacists still push the original ones, and even combine them at times, for instance claiming the white race descended from more advanced aliens, with everyone else slowly evolving from apes-the claim that people of color "devolved" has also been made). Erich von Daniken, basically ur-popularizer of the ancient astronauts idea (though others before and since have also made them) offered some bizarre theories about humankind's origins in his lesser-known Signs Of The Gods, ranging from the above into humanity being created by aliens, with white people posited as the best result. Regardless, they all rely upon distinct and biological races, saying their supposed different abilities were possibly "programmed" by ancient aliens. Not only are the racist claims extremely unfortunate, it all relies on a very poor understanding of evolution and genetics. Worse, he then advocated eugenics. The first citation also mentions that there is a significant crossover between Ufologists and antisemitic conspiracy theorists (a supposed media coverup of UFOs/aliens has often been blamed on "the Jews"), while some theorists have made similar claims in regards to malicious aliens which echo antisemitic canards even when Jewish people aren't explicitly mentioned.
  • Heathers has received intense criticism for its decision to change the conflict from a bunch of rich socialite bullies into Political Correctness Gone Mad, pushing the narrative that minorities are the real power now in schools (which is very much not the case) and that the straight white kids are the "real" victims.
  • Blue Bloods: This critique of the show points out how the show reinforces negative stereotypes about racial minorities by often having them portrayed as untrustworthy by having them manufacture fraudulent claims about police brutality.
  • Quantico
    • Has been called out various times for its grossly egregious misrepresentation and villainization of queer characters, with some calling out the fact that Simon became a better, more competent person AFTER he revealed he wasn't gay.
    • This article also points out that Simon's story is full of anti-Semitic stereotypes, since he lies about his identity and is presented as someone unreliable and misleading (plus adding a fake claim of Israel blowing up greenhouses in Gaza, which were actually destroyed by Palestinian rioters).
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit dropped a planned subplot for this reason. Originally, it was going to be revealed in Season 2 that Olivia Benson's mother hadn't actually been raped. Realizing that would feed into a problematic cultural narrative (one which, in fact, the series debunks or deconstructs on multiple occasions), producers made the decision to cut the subplot, and those scenes were never aired. (In fact, a subplot several seasons later that did make it into the series raised this possibility but then debunked it, confirming that Olivia's mother was raped.)
  • Stranger Things:
    • A few commentators have perceived a sexist streak in the first season. It doesn't exactly help that the treatment of Barb Holland is textbook Stuffed in the Fridge.
    • Season 3 seems to gladly indulge in toxic masculinity, and no better place is this shown than in Hopper's behavior. Many of the commenters have noted that the behavior Hopper exhibits is the kind of behavior that's tantamount to domestic abuse, both in his handling of Mike spending time with Eleven, and in his constant belittling of Joyce (which many see as character derailment from the way Hopper treated her in seasons 1 and 2). However, this behavior is treated as a minor character flaw at best, not to mention Played for Laughs several times and ultimately excused by the show.
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel's relentless pursuit of Laura's affections was a staple during the height of the shows popularity but more recent reception of the show has taken a more negative view of the character. In hindsight, Steve's behavior has been viewed as creepy and disrespectful of Laura's boundaries. Not helping matters is that female foils in the show to Steve Urkel, Myra Monkhouse and Myrtle Urkel, did not receive the same type of sympathetic portrayal that Steve did, leading to views of double standards being at play.
  • 13 Reasons Why:
    • Listing all the articles describing how the show/book can be construed as "romanticizing suicide" (among other things) would take too long. Many experts advise that parents of young people watching should at least have a conversation about the events in the show. An article in Psychology Today weighed in too, arguing that it severely misrepresents the entire issue to the point that, even if someone walks away wanting to help or get help, the show has done nothing to equip them for this. Some points of particular criticism are the idea that suicide is a "blame game" primarily driven by external factors and downplaying the severity of mental illness (while external factors absolutely play a role, internal ones do as well and are important to not overlook like the show did). Additionally, it argues that the show fails to paint alternative options that Hannah could have taken, often due to the actions or incompetence of those around her, and spends little time emphasizing various coping methods or the importance of professional help, ultimately ending up with an aesop that's closer to "Being kind to others can stop them from committing suicide" (which is both overly simplistic and also, once again, places more autonomy in the hands of others than the victim themself in terms of getting help). The crew took notice of this, and Season 2 opens with a PSA from several of the actors laying out some of the tricky subjects you're about to see, and warn that if you're struggling with them yourself, you might want to turn the show off and have some serious discussions about them first.
    • The way the show handles the school shooting plot in Season 2 has attracted some criticism, especially considering the real-life prevalence of such tragedies in the US. It's considered quite problematic and irresponsible to have the main protagonist Clay confront the would-be shooter outside the school ball and try to talk him down which is ultimately successful. Even Dylan Minnette and the experts the show's writers consulted admitted this was an extremely dangerous thing to do and that the correct response in such a situation would be to warn other people, lock down the building and contact the authorities; approaching a mentally unstable person with a loaded gun and the intention of committing murder is a very bad idea, even if you are acquainted with the person. It further carries the implication that simply being 'kind' to school shooters can prevent tragedies, which unrealistically glosses over the far more complex reasons people commit such crimes. The plotline was also criticized for presenting Tyler sympathetically, with his motives for trying to murder his teachers and classmates being revenge and trauma over being bullied; the catalyst for the shooting was Tyler being sexually assaulted, carrying the implication that school shooters are just victims pushed too far and that the actual victims of shootings are in some way to blame for the violence. In real life, the idea that most school shooters are bullied outcasts who eventually snap is actually a popular myth.
    • Bryce’s arc in Season 3 and his relationship with Ani have been criticized for this. The show attempts to portray Bryce in a grayer light than previous seasons; he starts to feel some remorse for his crimes while struggling with having to move to a new school, his parents' divorce and being shunned by most people. He also pursues a more equal and respectful relationship with Ani compared to his previous relationships, with Ani believing that Bryce isn't all bad and could become a better person. However, it has been pointed out that trying to make Bryce more sympathetic potentially undermines the show's message about the seriousness of sexual assault; despite being a Serial Rapist and brutal bully who traumatized several people and contributed to one of his victims taking her own life, the worst punishment Bryce got was three months probation. He gets a second chance at life while his victim, Hannah, will never have this opportunity. It doesn't help that Bryce's personal struggles are given far more screentime than that of his victims' (Jessica and Chloe really only get one episode each focusing on them, while the other girls Bryce assaulted don't appear). The fact that his attempts to make amends seems to be triggered less by a Heel Realization and more by the fact he hates being ostracized by peers, and that he continues to treat others poorly throughout the season, makes his motives come off as rather selfish and Unintentionally Unsympathetic to some viewers. Meanwhile, Bryce's relationship with Ani has also attracted criticism for coming off as a classic case of I Can Change My Beloved; Ani pursues a relationship with Bryce despite being warned to stay away from him, emotionally supports him, is physically intimate with him and defends him to others even though she knows what he's done because she believes there's good in him no one else can see; on Bryce's side, it can come off as him being rewarded with sex simply for having the common decency to not rape or abuse Ani like he did with almost every other girl he interacts with. While Ani does end up distancing herself from Bryce after seeing his more unpleasant side first hand, some have argued that it's never really presented as wrong or misguided of her to have put herself at risk to act as an emotional crutch for a serial rapist, which they argue sends a very unhealthy or downright dangerous message to viewers. Some have also pointed out that Ani's attempts to defend Bryce can come across as downplaying the severity of his actions and even echo the arguments of rape apologists at times, which comes off as particularly tone-deaf in a show like this.
  • 24's trope-naming abuse of the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique has been accused of normalizing torture by law enforcement, military, and intelligence officers. Even the US Army brass complained.
  • Mission: Impossible was frequently criticized for the protagonists' Pay Evil unto Evil ethos. Patrick J. White sums it up in his series history The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier:
    Mission: Impossible matter-of-factly offered the premise that the United States government sponsored a group of saboteurs who were answerable to no one. In the course of their duties, the IMF could — and did — lie, cheat, steal, falsify media, hold persons illegally, falsely incriminate, destroy the property of innocent people, kidnap, plot (though never personally execute) assassinations, and break any civil and criminal rule that stood in their way. Individual rights were ignored... The IMF framed and entrapped opponents with no qualms, regrets, or remorse. If they couldn't nail [a villain] for something he did, they'd see to it he was punished for something he didn't do, or something they made him do.
  • Wheel of Fortune: The week of March 20, 2017, designated as Southern Charm, came under fire for one of the backdrop images portraying African Americans in slave-era clothing. Since the controversy erupted while the week was being reran, Wheel only had time to pull the Friday episode.
  • In the wake of the George Floyd protests, a large number of cop shows, including COPS, Live PD, and Chicago P.D. were called out for presenting a very one-sided, very black and white view of the police as good guys who all too often were right for doing the wrong thing in the pursuit of justice. This backlash against what has been described as "copaganda" ultimately got the former two shows cancelled, and may have started the police procedural's decline into Discredited Trope territory.
  • For Fate: The Winx Saga, the Live-Action Adaptation of Winx Club, the decision to cast white actresses as Musa (an Asian character in the cartoon) and Terra (replacing the Latina character Flora) has sparked accusations of racism from fans of the original series.
    • The series has also drawn criticism for homophobic subtext in its depiction of the fairies. The original cartoon has a sizable LGBT Fanbase and several of its artists were also gay, and the live-action series on Netflix has been panned for reinforcing heteronormative relationships and its casual use of homophobic slurs.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report