4 TV Moments That Broke The Audience's Brains
Any TV show that’s been on the air long enough is bound to have at least one episode that leaves viewers scratching their heads until their scalp bleeds. (See: Cory's murder spree dream on Boy Meets World.) And there are other TV moments that didn’t exactly make or break the show, but if you were to ask the shows’ producers about them today, they might try to change the subject.
Redman On MTV Cribs
By 2000, MTV was entering its awkward phase where they started phasing out music videos, the one thing they were known for, in favor of more experimental fare like reality TV. One of those early experiments was a flashy Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous knock-off called MTV Cribs, where celebrities would invite a camera crew into their homes and show off all of their expensive belongings. The show was superficial as hell, and that proved to be a brilliant marketing tactic because the show appealed to both the “I wanna live like that” crowd and those who wanted to laugh at how out-of-touch these celebrities were.
But there were some episodes that showed celebrities living surprisingly humble and modest home lives, like when Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains showed off his family’s Oklahoma farmhouse. The camera crews and editors, bless their hearts, tried their best to give these regular-ass homes the same flashy treatment as the other multi-million dollar mansions on the show, and the results were often pretty damn funny. But the best of them all had to be the tour of Redman’s Staten Island home in 2001.
While a lot of celebrities who went on MTV Cribs had resorted to renting out luxury cars or even using someone else’s house for the shoot just to make themselves look better, Redman didn’t even bother to clean up. There’s some strong “divorced dad trying to impress a date” energy going on here. If it weren’t for his sense of self-satisfaction, this whole segment would feel like a fractal of sadness; the closer you look, the more chaotic it appears.
Every segment on MTV Cribs typically begins with a 2-3 minute montage of the outside of the house, showing off all of the expensive cars in the driveway, ornate landscaping, people partying, etc. Not this time! The crew shows the outside of Redman’s house for less than two seconds and immediately goes inside. Once inside, it really doesn’t get much better. There are clothes hanging on the bannisters on the way up the stairs. They go into the bedroom for Redman to pretend to be asleep for a “Oh, the tour was today?” gag, and once the lights come on … holy shit.
His stuff is piled up along the walls of the house, and he’s stepping over shit left and right to get to the next thing he wants to show off. He spends fifteen seconds demonstrating his regular sized closet is a walk-in because he is able to stand inside of it. He shows off the Herbal Essences body wash in the shower and the Gorton’s fish filets in his freezer like he’s expecting those companies to cut him a check. His DVD collection, the only thing in the house that’s actually on shelves, is like 80% porn. And for some strange reason, he owns two copies each of Blue Streak and Body Double.
It’s hard to tell which is funnier: the fact that he keeps calling his house “De La Casa," which literally translates to “of the house" ... or that he ends the segment by showing off how to hotwire his doorbell … or that four minutes in, they show some dude passed out on the floor in the living room and Redman just shrugs it off. Meh, that’s just his cousin Sugar Bear. He does this all the time.
Cable News Networks Book The Wrong Guests, Anchors Try To Roll With It Anyway
With over a dozen cable news networks running live broadcasts 24/7, mistakes will be made. And the other channels love to report on those screw-ups. Hell, some anchors count on that. Just look at Tucker Carlson. He knows his takes are bad, but it gets people to tune into his show, and then those clips get fact-checked on other channels, which allows him to mock that criticism on his next show. The man has practically weaponized living rent-free in other people’s heads.
Anchors and reporters who are further down on the totem pole, however, actively try to avoid becoming famous for being wrong … but as the old bumper sticker says, shit happens. Occasionally, a live interview comes along that might start off with the best of intentions, but by the time the anchors realize they’re talking to the wrong person it’s too late to pull the chute. Such is the case with this Fox & Friends First segment from July 2018:
Yeah, we know criticizing the journalistic integrity of Fox News is like giving a one-star Yelp review to a crack dealer. But still, it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly get trolled this badly. The anchors were expecting to talk to Democratic congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick from Arizona, who was recently booed by her own party for her anti-immigration views. The woman who appeared on-screen instead was Massachusetts State Senator and Democratic congressional candidate Barbara L’Italien, who had the exact opposite viewpoint as Kirkpatrick, and came out swinging the second she was allowed to speak.
News mannequins Rob Schmitt and Jillian Mele did their best to maintain their composure and ad-lib a defense against L’Italien’s remarks. It’s important to note that this show had the 4am-6am time slot, and the thought of their screw-up trending on Twitter before dawn must’ve been dreadful.
Producers later issued a statement about the mishap, explaining that they had called the press contact they had on file for Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign, Joe Katz, not knowing that Katz had since jumped ship and was now working for L’Italien. L’Italien accepted the interview not exactly pretending to be Kirkpatrick, but then again Fox never bothered to ask. Surely, they started checking IDs from then on.
But Fox News’ lack of due diligence doesn’t hold a candle to this 2015 HLN segment about Edward Snowden joining Twitter, where they interviewed a “Snowden supporter” named Jon Hendren, not knowing that Hendren was a popular Twitter comedian.
Interviewers never actually listen to their guests, they just nod and ask the next question
For the first couple of minutes he played the interview completely straight, but then it became clear he was talking about Edward Scissorhands, not Snowden. The interviewer kept trying to ask about Snowden, but all she got back was Tim Burton references. Hey HLN! You know what should’ve been your first clue this guy might not be on the up and up? His Twitter handle is @fart, and the fact that they put that handle on-screen during this interview is just (chef’s kiss).
James Brown And Little Richard Team Up On Wheel Of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune has been on the air for over 46 years now, and you would think there wouldn’t be a single person alive on the planet who would need an explanation on how the game is played, but stranger things have happened. On May 6, 1994, Wheel was wrapping up its Music Stars Week, featuring the biggest names in the music business (who had absolutely no other gigs going on at the time) competing for prize money to be awarded to their favorite charities. It must be stressed how odd it is to put these names together in a sentence, much less a game show, but the contestants ended up being “Weird Al” Yankovic, country star Lee Greenwood, and James Brown and Little Richard working together as a team.
Not once does he buy an "I, for I FEEL GOOD."
To truly understand what makes this episode weird, you need to know the context behind it. In a 2014 interview with Seth Meyers, Yankovic stated that James Brown showed up over an hour late for rehearsals, followed by his 20-person entourage. Once he had arrived, producers tried to rush Brown through his rehearsal, and quickly discovered that he knew nothing about the game and had never watched the show. Some other stats to keep in mind:
1) James Brown was 60 at the time, and had spent the better part of the past 30 years bombed out of his gourd on various subtstances and surrounded by people who were terrified to tell him no.
2) Wheel of Fortune only tapes four days a month, shooting up to six episodes a day, so having to tediously walk James Brown through the gameplay was putting the whole week’s worth of shows behind schedule.
3) Take one look at this interview he gave to CNN just a few months later and try to tell us this man didn’t spend his time on the Wheel of Fortune set thinking he was on an alien spaceship:
The producers brought in Little Richard to be his teammate at the last minute not just to keep the taping on track, but also to help keep James Brown tethered to this dimension. It’s just fun to watch everyone else in this episode trying to fake smile their way through this game knowing that they’ve been putting up with this crap all day.
But it was all worth it to see the joy on James Brown’s face when he got to solve the third puzzle, even though earlier in that round he pulled the dumbass move of asking for the letter T a mere 26 seconds after Weird Al had asked for the same damn letter. Weird Al is a nice enough guy not to call out James Brown’s awkwardness in that moment, but we like to think he remembers that experience each time he gets a royalty check for “Living With a Hernia.”
Every Rudy Giuliani Cameo Ever, In Hindsight
Some men are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them, and some men jam a cinder block on the gas pedal and send greatness straight off a cliff for the insurance money. In the latter category lies Rudy Giuliani, the hard drinkin’, hard fartin’, shirt tuckin’ former mayor of New York City turned attention-starved political hobgoblin.
Of all the titles Giuliani has held over the years: Mayor of New York, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Associate Attorney General, cyber security advisor, presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer … the title he seems to have loved the most is that of “special guest star." The man loves the spotlight, and sometimes dominating the news cycle in the real world isn’t enough for him, so he had to insert himself into fictional universes as well. But knowing what we know of the man he has become, those past cameos have aged about as well as an egg salad sandwich on a summer sidewalk.
Most of his movie cameos were of the blink and you’ll miss it, probably cut this scene to make time for commercials, “Look, it's the Mayor!” variety. It was a smart move on Rudy’s part choosing movies where his actions had no bearing on the plot, because his time as mayor (1994-2001) was also the golden age of New York getting destroyed in disaster movies. His speeches in the wake of 9/11 wouldn’t have held the same weight if he had used the same words to urge calm after the meteor storm at the beginning of Armageddon.
He hosted Saturday Night Live in what is widely regarded as one of the worst episodes the show has ever done, mostly due to Rudy having the comedic timing of a dead squirrel. And if you’re thinking, “Hey, it was probably right after 9/11, and none of us were ready to laugh again quite yet … ” Nope! This was in 1997, and he had just been reelected by a very narrow margin with the lowest voter turnout the city had seen in twelve years. This was him trying to elevate his reputation, not coast on it.
He even ruins Norm Macdonald's bit. The audience only really laughs when Rudy messes up.
One Giuliani cameo that’s really hard to process given what we know now is from Season one, episode 14 of Cosby. Back in 1997 when the episode aired, it seemed perfectly innocent. If it was 2001, this would’ve been seen as America’s mayor meeting America’s dad. But in 2021 terms, seeing these two men share a scene together almost feels like watching the prequel to a snuff film. None of the people in that studio audience have a clue what's gonna come to light down the road, and their cheers sound incredibly hollow today.
Why is Cosby dressed like Hugh Hefner? Actually, don't answer that.
Another Rudy Guliani cameo that seems particularly ironic now is his appearance in season eleven, episode one of Law & Order. For one thing, it’s kinda hard to watch Rudy appear on a show called Law & Order as one of the good guys knowing of the legal scandals that have now led to his law license being suspended. For another, he was only on the show to introduce and personally vouch for the new interim DA Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest), who was taking over for outgoing DA Adam Schiff (no, not that Adam Schiff). Lewin left the DA’s office two seasons later after becoming disillusioned with the position Rudy had put her in, a sentiment all that’s all too common for people who’ve worked with Giulianni in the real world.
When Dan Fritschie isn’t busy screwing up his ad algorithms by forgetting to do his research in incognito mode, he can occasionally be seen doing stand-up somewhere. You can find him being mistaken on Google Search for a hockey player whose name is one letter off from his, or you can find him on Twitter.
Top image: CBS