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YMMV / You Can't Do That on Television

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  • Acceptable Political Targets: The slobbish father, Lance Prevert, is a Senator. Specifically, a Canadian Senator note  (an even more acceptable target). Originally, the writers wanted Lance Prevert to be a prime minister, but they thought American audiences wouldn't get it, so they made him a Senator since U.S. and Canadian Senators have more in common than people may think.
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  • Accidental Nightmare Fuel: Many fans recall getting creeped out a little by the show's intro. Not surprising, given that it was a deliberate homage to Terry Gilliam's bizarre animations from Monty Python's Flying Circus. The very first version is perhaps the freakiest of the bunch, but judge for yourself.
  • The Cast Showoff: Averted with Alanis Morissette, as she never got to sing on the show. Although Roger Price and Alanis's fellow cast members knew she could sing and was already writing her own songs (Vanessa Lindores says she still has a copy of Alanis' self-pressed first 45 single), Roger was adamant about not letting her perform on YCDTOTV, as he feared the hassles with record companies, agents, etc. that would have ensued had Alanis become a star during her time on the show, as had happened with some of his actors back in England.
    • In-universe, played straight with Kevin Somers in the local 1979 season. And for part of one episode, with Kevin Schenk as well.
  • Deleted Scene: Once Nickelodeon added commercials in 1984, scenes had to be trimmed from the 1981, 1982 and 1983 season episodes to make room for commercials. One of the cut scenes was Lisa Ruddy's slime scene in the 1982 episode "Ripoffs," which was nevertheless preserved in the slime scene montage in The Worst of You Can't Do That on Television seven years later.
    • Alanis Morissette, in addition to her sliming in the "Pop Music" episode, was also slimed for the episode "TV Commercials". However, only still photos remain as evidence of the sliming and it's unknown whether it was even filmed. If it was filmed, the film is lost for good, as 1986 season director Brenda Mason has confirmed that no "lost film" footage was saved.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The preempt "Michael Jackson Gets Old and Wrinkled" becomes this after his death in 2009
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    • A sketch in "Commercials" mentions jumping off the top of the World Trade Center.
    • A sketch in "Discipline" where Snake Eyes stops on the railroad tracks as a train approaches becomes this after the Fox River Grove railroad crossing accident in 1995.
    • Big Bird getting roasted became this after the death of Carroll Spinney in 2019.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the show was a big hit as a local show in Ottawa, it was a cultural phenomenon when it hit the United States of America and the green slime on the show became associated with Nickelodeon. The show's airing history in Canada was in fact spotty after 1982 and until 1988 when it was part of the original YTV lineup, and by the time the series was finally getting some recognition in Canada due to its airings on YTV, its ratings in the United States were down and the show was cancelled.
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: George Bush Shoots The Wrong Quail, from "Mistakes," comes off a bit more harshly in retrospect after George W. Bush's Vice President, Dick Cheney, did aim at the wrong target during a quail hunt and consequently shot a friend in the face.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The fact that the first episode to feature Alanis Morissette was called "Pop Music." Even more hilarious in hindsight: the episode features a sketch in which Alanis is dressed like Cyndi Lauper and trying to convince Mom to let her go to Lauper's concert, and Mom refuses, because rock musicians aren't acceptable role models and she won't have any daughter of hers behaving that way. Fast forward a decade and Alanis is the biggest rock star on the planet.
    • That scream in opening theme song sounds an awful lot like the scream that cost Howard Dean the Democratic primaries in the 2004 Presidential election.
    • Les Lye's Senator Lance Prevert is a lot funnier when you realize he's more or less like Canadian mayor Rob Ford. Could also be Harsher in Hindsight, considering the sad ending to Rob Ford's life.
    • Former Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne recalled that the show got some flack from parents and educators because of the green slime gag, the likes of which hadn't been seen on North American television previously. No one thinks twice about someone being slimed today since Nickelodeon "mainstreamed" slime, but back in the '80s, Laybourne recalled, one educator considered sliming an act of violence, akin even to beheading someone.
    • In the "Politics" episode, Justin promises "free video games in the cafeteria" if he's elected class president. In the 2019 revival of The Twilight Zone (2019), Oliver Foley forces the video game industry to give away free games to all Americans as a fulfillment of his campaign promise in "The Wunderkind."
  • Hollywood Homely: Christine got hit with this hard starting in the 1983 season, especially from Lisa. If the majority of fans who grew up with the show are any indication, Christine was about as far from ugly as a person could get.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Christine McGlade and Lisa Ruddy were often the target of "fat" jokes, although neither one was even close to being obese. The same was true of Jennifer Brackenbury and Rekha Shah in the 1989-90 seasons. On the flip side, Alasdair Gillis often got Hollywood Thin jokes aimed his way. One memorable scene from 1983's "Medicine" episode combined both:
    Alasdair: The doctor said I'm suffering from malnutrition.
    Christine: Sounds like a pretty fair verdict to me. To look at you, you'd think there was a famine in this country.
    Alasdair: Well, to look at *you*, you'd think you'd *caused* it!
    [Christine slugs Alasdair with the cast on her leg and he falls behind the risers]
  • Periphery Demographic: The show has a slightly disturbing Misaimed Fandom with WAM (wet and messy) fetishists.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Alt-rocker Alanis Morissette appeared as a cast member on five episodes in 1986.
    • Klea Scott, a cast member from 1982-1984, went on to star in several American network shows including Brooklyn South.
    • And Rekha Shah, a minor cast member in 1986 and 1989, starred in the Canadian teen soap opera "Hillside", which was broadcast on Nickelodeon in 1990-1991 as Fifteen.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Modern day viewers who are accustomed to more recent kid-focused sketch shows like successor series All That may have a hard time appreciating how revolutionary YCDTOTV was in the 80's.
  • Uncanny Valley: What may have contributed to the Accidental Nightmare Fuel, the nigh-iconic image (particularly, the one the show ran with beginning circa the 1982 season) of Les Lye's bug-eyed face getting the show's title stamped upon it—And then beginning to slowly crack to the drumstick-clacking near the closing of the show's theme before breaking in half to reveal the show. This is even used for in-show bumpers, meaning the unwary viewer never knows when they'll get kicked through the face by it. Sometimes these bumpers like to end with a longer-sustained chord as well.
  • Values Dissonance: The show's title was very prophetic, when you think about the stuff it did on television that you totally can't do now:
    • A Les Lye character from the first season, Frederick the wardrobe master, was a pretty flamboyant and blatant gay stereotype. In another sketch, one of the kids lets his wrist hang limply in a stereotypically gay way; and in one of the live links, it's mentioned that same-sex couples are welcome to participate in the couples disco dancing contest, which, although it would raise fewer eyebrows today than it would have in 1979, likely also wouldn't have been played for laughs today as it was in 1979.
    • The Firing Squad sketches. No way they'd show a trigger-happy dictator hell-bent on executing a kid these days. In addition, these sketches played on 1980s stereotypes of what Latin America was, and such sketches might very well be perceived as racist today.
    • The earlier episodes had no problem with showing adults smoking on-camera in front of the kids, which would cause today's Moral Guardians to have apoplectic fits. In the 1981 "Safety First" episode, Christine instructs viewers who smoke on how to properly dispose of their cigarette butts, although she does grimace and refer to smoking as a "disgusting habit" first. This suggests that, despite Christine's referring to smoking as disgusting, that the show was aware that some of the viewers in their target audience were smokers.
    • The show did in fact tackle the topic of smoking later that same season and again in 1989, but both episodes were done in typical YCDTOTV fashion, intended more to entertain than to preach. (The same was true of 1981's "Drugs" despite Christine's explanation of the episode's premise - taking drugs is as stupid as hitting yourself with a custard pie - in her opening monologue.) That said, the first smoking episode features a bit at the end with Christine giving major props to Les Lye, who didn't smoke but made the sacrifice for the episode. He briefly comes out-of-character to say that it was one of the grossest things he'd ever done, and he didn't understand why people paid money to do it.
      • Similarly, in the early years the kids drank coffee a lot - not a big deal in Canada, but the coffee drinking was toned down in later years, possibly at Nickelodeon's insistence. In one later (1986) episode, Ross flat-out tells the kids they can't have coffee because "it's for grown-ups."
    • Christine was the butt of numerous fat-shaming or ugly jokes, though it's mitigated by how she's clearly thin (and tiny) and attractive, plus she often got to retaliate with a punch in the face. Lisa Ruddy, Jennifer Brackenbury, and Rekha Shah were also the targets of fat jokes when they weren't particularly.
    • Speaking of the above, there's no way the show could get away with the style of slapstick humor it used. Moral guardians today would be outraged at the show for not only implying that a violent response to an insult is acceptable, but could even be funny.
      • On the other side of the coin, the green slime gag raises few eyebrows today because it has become so commonplace, but in the 1980s, it was quite controversial. According to former Nickelodeon president Gerry Laybourne, one critic rated the act of sliming as being as violent as a beheading!
    • One sketch plays for laughs the act of abandoning a disabled little girl (played by Vanessa) to die in a fire in order to use her wheelchair to save the television set. This use of Abandon the Disabled to get an easy laugh from the viewers comes across as horrifyingly callous and unfeeling nowadays.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Multiple cast members:
    • In the 1985 episodes and the very early 1986 episodes, Vanessa looks rather gender-ambiguous, having short to medium-length hair and typically dressing rather masculine, though she does wear earrings. By the time the second batch of '86 episodes premiered, her hair was noticeably longer and she had begun dressing more like a typical teenage girl.
    • And Doug during the seasons when he had long hair. In the "Illness" episode (1986), he outright states that he got his hair cut because he was sick of people saying he looked too girlish, although his hair was still rather long at that time; midway through the 1986 season, he had his hair finally cut short, a move that got him (temporarily) fired from the show (since Roger Price didn't want the kids on the show making drastic changes in their appearances and thus tampering with their "trademark" look). In the 1985 season, his hair was actually longer than Vanessa's.
    • 1986 cast member Jody Morris may have been mistaken for a girl by some viewers at first, due to his unisex first name as well as his own shoulder-length hair.
    • Alanis Morissette also sported a boyish short haircut in her first two episodes ("Pop Music" and "Parties"). Thereafter, her hair was still short, but styled to look more feminine.
  • Wag the Director: Christine McGlade in the 1985 season had "veto power" over being slimed or drenched: if the script called for her to be slimed or soaked, she could have the script changed to have someone else face the slime or water if she so desired. As a result she was only slimed twice in the entire 1985 season, and drenched only once: her slime scene in 1985's "Movies" originally called for her to be slimed twice, but she had it changed to being slimed once and then soaked afterward; and Vanessa Lindores' double sliming in "Wildlife and Animals" that same season was originally meant for Christine. This "veto power" was apparently the carrot that was used to get Moose to return for the '85 season, as she had moved to Toronto and was ready to move on with her life.
    • Speaking of which, the 1985 season also had a noticeable reduction in instances of Christine being called "Moose" in the first place. In the handful of 1986 episodes she appeared in, she was never slimed, watered or pied at all and never called "Moose."

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