Back in the day, TV was a lot more subtle than it is in the current fast-paced, My 600-Pound Life-laden world. Today you have sitcom characters like Barney Stinson, who in every episode of How I Met Your Mother seemed to have an hilarious joke about chunnel fisting or beaver bashing or whatever. Or Allison Williams on Girls, who got her ass eaten on camera, though we hear that her father misremembers the incident. We've come a long way from Lucy and Ricky having separate beds and barely ever celebrating an anniversary with more than a casual Dirty Sanchez.
And while nowadays sexuality is clearly in your face, almost to the point where we can expect CBS to just introduce a semi-erect dong as a character next season, when you were a kid, it was less so. Sure we had slutty characters, but their sluttiness was a lot less explicit, and sometimes the nature of it was so creepy that it probably caused undue trauma to your brain without you even realizing it.
All shows -- all media, in fact -- try to present those who are sexually adventurous and promiscuous as admirable and kind of awesome. (Except when they're women and we're forced to decide between having them portrayed as stupid, predatory, or insane. That's not my decision though, I swear. Down with slut shaming!) The problem is that sometimes writers, producers, and actors start resting on their laurels, and characters' sexualities get a little skewed, a little weird, and a little flat-out unsettling.
#4. Blanche Devereaux
Disney-ABC Domestic Television
The literal grandma of all skanky TV characters, Blanche was the hussy of The Golden Girls, a show about four women of retirement age living together and humping their way across Miami one dry, denture-cream-lubed rendezvous at a time. Right away, this level of sexuality is off-putting to the majority of viewers, who don't want to think of grandma gagging on some schooner captain's kielbasa. But apparently that's what Blanche did each and every episode, when not planning fundraisers or volunteering to organize some charitable event which would introduce her to a grey-haired gentleman whose ass she'd inevitably try to finger blast.
Disney-ABC Domestic Television
"Thank you for being a friend with benefits."
There were 206 episodes of The Golden Girls, and while it's arguable that only one in four of them would be Blanche-centric, she likely had at least a secondary story in every episode, and that means nearly 206 separate stories about a lady in her late 50's having rampant sex with strange men.
Rumor has it that there was in fact an episode in which Blanche addresses her own promiscuity by acknowledging that she uses condoms, which is great and was a good message for the '80s. But how many children who watched this on the family-friendly Friday night lineup week in and week out started to wonder if the reason they only saw their own grandma every so often was because she was too busy ironing some old timer's pork whistle to come hang out?
Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Or drumstick in this case.
Should old people be allowed to have and enjoy their sexuality? Of course, but for a kid, that shit is just mind-blowing. Sex is mind-blowing in general, but trying to wrap your head around the concept of Blanche Devereaux having three-ways with shuffleboard champs is the kind of stuff that leads to nightmares about being eaten by freeze-dried Southern clams.
#3. Mrs. Roper / Larry Dallas
There was an interesting dynamic afoot on Three's Company as far as sexuality went. Characters were basically camped as either asexual or hypersexual, with very little in-between room. Jack spends most episodes either trying to convince people he can cook worth a damn or trying to bone anything with hair longer than Mr. Furley's, while his smoking hot roommates walk around in short shorts and completely useless bras and act like sex is Christmas -- an event that happens once a year and need not be discussed until the season approaches.
Jack is a baseline character whose sexuality seems more or less normal. He's not too weird, too ghastly, or too abhorrent in his behavior, so he's OK. He's a precursor to every character currently on TV. In contrast to Jack, there are the sexual mutants on the show who have evolved beyond him and are far out of control. Their desire for the beast with two backs trumps all reason and humanity. They are no longer human, they are smutmeisters. They are Larry and Mrs. Roper.
"Have dinner with me, and you can get two kinds of crabs."
At first glance, Larry Dallas, used car salesman and Jack's wingman, for the most part seems no different than Jack -- he's a player, he somehow gets tail despite his terrible haircut and wardrobe, he seems admirable to those who aspire to be professional booty hunters. And then comes the fact that Larry is arguably one of the most unscrupulous pussy hounds in the history of television. No lie is too big, no deception too egregious to be used in the pursuit of ass. Is Larry actually a former Marine? He claims it in one episode. Is he a photographer for Playboy? A talent scout for MGM? No. And why did he enter jack's cookie recipe in a competition for old ladies, forcing his friend to dress in drag to win anyway? No one knows. Larry is just a compulsive liar.
"It's not a lie if she sleeps with you."
On the other side of the apartment building is Mrs Roper, who I think wore a muumuu in every single episode of the show, thus shattering any sex appeal a woman in her 60's could have hoped to muster with the efficiency of a tactical nuke. You could stuff a muumuu with Scarlett Johansson and free hot wings, and it'd somehow turn out disgusting and sleep-inducing. It's nobody's fault except that of the wicked djinn who created the garment in the first place, long long ago.
I take it back. Thank God for long billowing muumuus.
Mrs. Roper's MO is that she has a never-ending lady boner for her useless lump of a husband Mr. Roper, who had the sexual prowess of rancid custard in a Ben-Gay-scented sweater and loafers. But she was DTF all the time. Was Stanley packing some kind of donkey dick in his trousers? We can only speculate. Cringe and speculate.
Both Larry and Helen reek of not quiet but loud and ungainly desperation. Angry, almost rapey desperation. All presented under the cowl of hilarious '70s comedy. Neither seemed above dropping a Cosby in someone's drink, which was probably the plot of at least one episode, though I can't be sure.