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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.
    • Donald Trump's presidency was still 32 years away at the time, but he was parodied as "Ronald Rump" in the 1984 episode "Wealth," with Adam Reid playing Ronald.
  • 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 (and the most Canadian), but judge for yourself.
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  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the show was a big hit as a local show in Ottawa and remained popular locally through its entire run, it was a cultural phenomenon when it hit the United States of America and the green slime on the show became associated with Nickelodeon. By contrast, the show's airing history in Canada between the cancellation of Whatever Turns You On and the 1988 debut of YTV was more spotty, with the show airing on and off in Saturday mornings on CTV or on pay cable channels like Superchannelnote  or Atlantic Satellite Networknote . By the time the show was finally a ratings hit in Canada thanks to YTV (while still remaining popular Saturday mornings on CJOH), its ratings in the States were down and the show's fate was sealed.
  • 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.
    • The pre-empt for 1989's "Age" episode: "Michael Jackson Grows Old and Wrinkled." Because it didn't happen.
  • 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.
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  • 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]
  • Pretty Boy: Kevin Kubusheskie was something of this during his original tenure, he was a tall, slim, handsome teenaged kid with long floofy feathered hair and even had some shirtless moments. He looked almost like a girl in his earlier episodes and even was in a skit where he was wearing make-up... and he looked good in it (even if it was applied comically heavy) note .
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The Big Bang Theory creator Bill Prady got his start writing for YCDTOTV.
  • "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.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many longtime fans' reaction to the 1989 and 1990 seasons, which not only featured a mostly new cast (with only Amyas Godfrey returning from the previous era as a regular) but were targeted at a younger age demographic than the show had previously targeted and thus relied significantly more on Toilet Humor (especially flatulence) and other gross-out gags.
  • 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.
    • Corporal punishment was often applied and Played for Laughs, both in school and at home. One opposite sketch had the teacher threatening to "give [Lisa] the strap," which consisted of Schidtler actually handing Lisa a leather strap rather than beating her with it.
    • 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 concept of race was also skewered in some other skits, particularly regarding Les Lye and Abby Hagyard (both Caucasian) playing the parents of kids who were Black, Asian, First Nations or some other ethnicity.
    • 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. This was Truth in Television, as crew members thought nothing of smoking around kids early on, which eventually led Roger Price and Geoffrey Darby to ban smoking in the studio. It's theorized that the 1981 "Smoking" episode was made in response to the non-smoking directive. A second episode about smoking was made in 1989, and was considerably more revolting than the first, floating the theory that green slime was mucus scraped from smokers' lungs.
      • Nevertheless, both of the Smoking episodes, as was 1981's "Drugs," were done in typical YCDTOTV fashion, intended more to entertain than to preach. That said, the first smoking episode features a bit at the end with Christine giving major props to Les Lye, who had quit smoking years earlier 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.
      • Also, 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 obvious distaste for smoking and calling it a disgusting habit, the show was aware that some of the viewers in their target audience were smokers.
      • Similarly, in the early years the kids drank coffee a lot - not a big deal in Canada, where coffee is considered an "all ages" drink, 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 was also the target of many such jokes when she wasn't particularly fat or ugly, as were Jennifer Brackenbury and Rekha Shah in later years.
    • 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. The Covered in Gunge type of slapstick comedy (as opposed to the older and more established Pie in the Face gag) had been commonplace on British television for years via shows like Tiswas, but YCDTOTV was largely responsible for introducing it to American and Canadian viewers, some of whom found it hard to take. No one thinks twice about someone being slimed today since the popularity of Nickelodeon (thanks to YCDTOTV and Double Dare in particular) "mainstreamed" slime, but back in the '80s, recalled then-Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne, one educator considered sliming an act of violence, akin even to beheading someone.
    • 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.
    • A pair of sketches featuring "Motormouth Lisa" in school during an early episode. The first part featured teacher Mr. Schidtler sending Lisa to the principal's office because she wouldn't stop talking. Not bad on its own, but the follow-up pushed the concept of Dark Humor to its limits. Lisa comes back to class, having been sent back by the principal (because she was annoying him too much). As she goes on rambling, Mr. Schidtler and all the kids each pull out a gun and start pointing at their own heads. Mr. Schidtler then quickly holds up a finger, and he and students slowly change their aim to Lisa. Really, it's only the shock of the Bait-and-Switch on the usual Driven to Suicide joke, the timing of the scene, and the fact the camera cuts before anyone fires their gun that saves it at all.
  • 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 longer and more feminine looking.
  • 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."