Anyone who's worked shoveling shit at a circus can tell you that making entertainment isn't as much fun as watching it.
The same goes for TV shows, and in some cases, it's even worse than the elephant shit thing. There are shows you loved and grew up with that, behind the scenes, were a constant, dark carnival of torment.
An extraterrestrial puppet confounds his adopted Earth family with his cat-eating ways.
But Behind The Scenes...
A dictatorial puppeteer confounds his cast with a deathtrap set.
In his Inferno, Dante never described a torture with which to punish 80s sitcom stars. But if he did, working on ALF for all eternity would win hands down.
ALF creator and head puppeteer Paul Fusco epitomized eccentricity. By "eccentricity," we mean "he sorta fuckin' believed ALF was real" and demanded nothing but the best for his cash cow. In practical terms, this meant that multiple puppeteers needed 14 trap doors built into the show's set to manipulate the puppet.
Keep in mind, the set was living-room sized. Take a glance at your living room floor, and imagine it's riddled with over one dozen Viet Cong tiger traps. Now imagine having to walk around that space without ever looking down because you're too busy making eye contact with a horrifying puppet with a syphilitic phallus for a nose.
Resetting the trap doors was an arduous process, as the only alternative was to let actors randomly fall to their deaths. Shoots, therefore, took much longer than usual, which exhausted the actors, but was the only way to avoid being the subject of a "broken neck" storyline next week.
The cast did this deadly waltz for five long years causing Andrea Elson, who played daughter Lynn Tanner, to say, "If ALF had gone one more year, everybody would have lost it." It's worth noting that Elson went on to appear regularly in absolutely nothing else. When someone whose career highlights include guest spots on Step by Step and something called Frankenstein: The College Years says her only starring role in a TV Show sucked, we believe her.
#5. The Price is Right
A geriatric man tries not to fuck up stating the price of a projection TV in a legally-binding way.
But Behind The Scenes...
A geriatric man builds a game show dynasty founded on sexual harassment.
The 106 years Bob Barker hosted the show were a hard time to be a Price Is Right spokesmodel. For a guy so concerned about animals (or at least their genitals), it's pretty insane how The Bark treated his Beauties like his own personal petting zoo.
In the early 90s, model Dian Parkinson alleged that if Bob Barker wasn't allowed to drop his "plinko chip" down her "prize board," she'd lose her job.
But at least he gave her dignity.
Although Parkinson did have a tumultuous off-camera fling with Barker, she wasn't the only TPIR girl to complain about the host's wandering, pruny python. Since 1996, six female employees have sued the horny old gnome. All of them, save one pending case, received out-of-court settlements.
Models who evaded Barker's attempts to discover their "Secret X" got a bum deal. Model Holly Hallstrom, who was famous for her adorable clumsiness...
...claimed Barker ordered her to make the rounds on the talk show circuit to defame Parkinson. When Hallstrom refused, she was suddenly fired for gaining weight. When Janice Pennington, a 29-year veteran of TPIR, testified in Hallstrom's wrongful termination case, she too mysteriously got the heave-ho.
The craziest part of these dismissals was that the Beauties were never officially fired, as they were never "hired" in the first place. The women had to re-up their contracts every damn week, effectively rendering them indentured servants. At this point, we're surprised the Beauties' salaries weren't determined using the Showcase Showdown.
Congrats! Your paycheck this week is 25 minutes of sex with Bob!
Marketable moppet steals white people's hearts without asking, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis?"
But Behind The Scenes...
Marketable moppet steals white people's sitcom without asking.
So imagine you're a husband and wife. You start your own production company, you make a show starring yourselves and, eventually, it gets picked up by the networks. That's probably about as awesome as it gets in a town where most aspiring actors wind up offering blowjobs for a chance to wait tables at the Chili's Ted Danson frequents.
But couple Susan Clark and Alex Karras lived that dream, selling ABC on a couple-in-love sitcom titled Another Ballgame, starring themselves. Then, at the last minute, ABC suggested a twist: adding a young black actor to play their adopted son. The couple loved the idea. You had the racial element and storylines about the challenges of raising a fish-out-of-water child who had lost his own parents.
The network hired child actor Emmanuel Lewis:
What they didn't realize was that ABC was jealous of all the money NBC was making on Gary Coleman's show, Diff'rent Strokes. ABC next went about slowly changing the show into a terrible Diff'rent Strokes ripoff, selling the only celebrity their show had: a young black dwarf.
When ABC implemented a policy informally called "all Webster, all the time" in the show's storylines, Clark and Karras acquiesced, with the provision that ABC not change the show's name to Webster.
Soon after, ABC changed the show's name to Webster. By the end of the first season, the 12-year-old Lewis was given a full production credit, meaning he was also a boss.
Through the first few seasons of the show, in between scenes of Webster's lovable hijinks the set consisted of actors screaming expletives at each other. After all, Clark and Karras had gone from producing their own racially-sensitive family show to kowtowing to a middle schooler to make a cheap knock-off. That's like if you built your own rocket ship in your garage and NASA made you hang back while a hamster pilots it.
"Want to hear a joke? I just cut your health insurance."