5 Completely Absurd Dark Episodes Of Light-Hearted TV Shows
Those of us raised by sitcoms tend to have a soft spot for "very special episodes," those moments in your favorite shows where someone gets hurt, or someone different comes into town, etc, and everyone ends up learning a valuable lesson. ("Wow, cocaine is bad for you? Who knew?")
It's a popular trope that nearly all shows have tried out ... and some of them have turned out insanely bad ...
George Lopez -- Learning To Forgive Max's Horniness
George Lopez's popular self-titled sitcom was groundbreaking in various ways, but "tackling rape culture" definitely wasn't one of them. In the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" George's daughter Carmen brings a female friend over to hang out and when her friend changes out of her clothes in Carmen's room, his younger son/sex criminal Max peeps on her through a hole between his room and Carmen's.
When Carmen realizes what he's doing, she sprays perfume through the hole on purpose to get him to stop, which is some nice quick thinking to protect her friend, but her dad disagrees. George lectures her on hurting her brother, taking away her phone privileges for a week, and when she (rightly so) demands to know why she's being punished, and little brother isn't, George says Max is, "just a little boy who doesn't know any better."
Knows enough to operate a drill, apparently.
Max didn't suddenly accidentally discover an opening between the bedrooms -- he had created a peephole and hidden it behind a poster, which he deliberately pulled aside the second he heard her friend needed to change. That brings up a lot of questions, none of which George was interested in asking. Carmen decides to take punishing her brother in her own hands and distributes a picture of him sleeping with a stuffed animal around school, which gets him beat up. The rest of the episode focuses on that and George's relationship with his daughter, not the fact that his son made a hole in the wall of his sister's bedroom so he can spy on her and her friends getting undressed.
Glee -- Overcoming A Devestaing Slushee To The Face
Glee has had a lot of ... odd moments (starting from the pilot when a teacher plants drugs in a student's locker to get him to join a glee club), but one truly bizarre one happened during its Michael Jackson tribute episode "Michael." There's a weirdly aggressively filmed dance-off that two separate Glee clubs have while they sing "Bad" (which I watched open-mouthed like four times in a row; there's nothing quite like watching a large group of white teens in uniform sing a Michael Jackson song about being gangsta).
But it's what happens at the end of the song that's important -- the villainous head of the rival glee club (as villainous as you can be while being the head of a rival glee club) throws a slushie at Kurt, Blaine jumps in front of him like he's protecting him from a bullet, then Blaine starts screaming -- turns out there was rock salt in the slushie which got in his eyes, so he's got to have eye surgery. Santana goes to meet the bad guy who did it to get revenge, and they sing "Smooth Criminal" at each other, and I had to go make a cup of tea because my throat was sore from laughing so hard.
It takes a lot to create a scene so stupid even the 2Cellos guys can't redeem.
To be fair, the writers needed an excuse to temporarily write Darren Criss off the show so he could take some time off Glee to perform "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" on Broadway, but deciding to do this by having his character, "get eye surgery from a doctored slushie thrown in his face during angry Michael Jackson dance-off" is ... an interesting choice.
Family Matters -- Urkelcoholism Is No Laughing Family Matter
Everyone remembers this episode as the one that spawned the infamous Urkel rap/dance "Do The Urkel" (which I may or may not have tried to do at least once), but they might not remember the events around it. Laura's best friend throws a rooftop party, and a bunch of boys (led by Willie, the high school bully and Laura's second most famous stalker) crash the party and bring alcohol. Laura's furious, but her homegirl tells her to chill, and that's when Steve Urkel decides to distract everyone by doing the Urkel.
Pop culture has sort of changed since 1991.
Willie, feeling like Steve has humiliated him and ruined his chances with Laura, spikes Steve's drink, and gets him cartoonishly drunk to the point where Steve topples over the side of the roof and hangs on the ledge for dear life.
This is where things veer from normal "very special episode" territory -- Aunt Rachel (who catered the party) suddenly turns into a trapeze artist and walks across a clothing line like it's a tightrope, grabbing Steve before he falls. I know all 90's sitcoms had at least one anti-drinking episode, but none had the sarcastic cool aunt suddenly turn into Spider-Man.
Sex and the City -- It's Not Racism If You're Horny
Wow, who would have thought a show about four rich white women and their shoes would misstep when handling the topic of interracial dating?
In "No Ifs Ands Or Butts," Samantha starts dating a black music mogul (of course he's in hip hop because the first black boyfriend of any of the leads being a professor or something would be too subtle) and fetishizes him immediately, both in describing their sex life and even changing her language and clothing to "fit in better with his crowd" (watching this woman try to use AAVE is truly cringe).
But shockingly she's not the bad guy in this episode -- it's her new boyfriend's sister, Adeena, who (somewhat understandably, given everything we know about Samantha) has a problem with her brother dating her and forbids it from continuing. They run into each other in a club and end up throwing hands, and when the boyfriend takes his sister's side, Samantha breaks up with him, while Carrie's voiceover solemnly calls him a big black pussy for not standing up to his sister.
Really take a minute to stretch your cringing muscles before hitting play. Wouldn't want you to be subjected to this and have to visit a chiropractor.
You read that right -- we get a hypersexualized passive black man and an Angry Black Woman getting in the way of their relationship, all in one episode, cause apparently when it comes to offensive stereotypes HBO was having a two for one sale.
Big Bang Theory -- Sex Pests Have Feeling Too
Even Big Bang Theory fans have to admit that Howard Wolowitz is a creep, especially toward Penny. She's tolerated this budding sexual predator for years because she likes Leonard, but in "The Killer Robot Instability," after making her uncomfortable one too many times she snaps, calls him a pig, and tells him that no woman would ever want to be with him and that he was going to "grow old and die alone!"
It was very much an appropriate response to a man who a few moments earlier was pushing her to go to a dance he was attending because she'd be "the only do-able girl there", but Howard is devastated to the point of being bedridden. This means he's not able to help the gang out with their toy robot fighting competition, which panics Leonard enough that he coerces Penny into apologizing to Howard and getting him out of his funk. That's right; she apologizes to him.
Did Howard at least learn his lesson? Nope, he tried to kiss her after this very generous act of hers, and when she reacts by punching him in the face ...
... he ends the episode telling the guys he was "halfway to pity sex."
Now I'm not saying some people deserve to be bullied, but ... I think a toilet swirlie would have come in handy here. Just saying.
Top image: Warner Bros. Television