4 Hilarious Sitcom Moments That Are Actually Incredibly Dark
When the vast majority of the population is looking for a show to help them unwind, they turn to one of the most timeless television formats: the situational comedy. Entire networks have risen to glory thanks to a solid sitcom lineup. The type of sitcom you like is a de facto personality quiz these days, and entire relationships have been built on the back of a mutual love of The Office. (You could argue entire personalities were as well.)
With such a massive presence, some sitcoms have been able to sneak in events that, outside of the narrow laws of that sitcom, would be absolutely life-ruining. Something that, a few years later, you remember and think, “Man, that was actually pretty fucked up.” Of course, I’m not an absolute idiot, who thinks sitcoms are incapable of including anything dramatic or weird. Even laugh-a-minute comedies can and have inspired genuine tears, and shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are completely based around horrible people’s misadventures.
Sometimes, though, sitcoms can unintentionally bury a deep, deep bummer somewhere in the search of a funny situation. Here are four of those times…
Ross and Rachel from Friends
The old “will-they-won’t-they” dynamic is tried-and-true, and almost feels like a requirement for a long-running sitcom. Friends’ Ross and Rachel are maybe the most iconic example of this, with the back-and-forth continuing over the entire run of the show. It’s that length, though, and their constant co-sabotage of each other, that ends up with you basically watching two people destroy each other’s lives.
Sure, when it’s happening, it’s fun, and who doesn’t love David Schwimmer nasally screaming that they “were on a break”? But when you take a look at the entire saga? Jesus, what a bummer. Only a television friend group could watch two of its members burn each other’s future to ash for that long without a full-blown intervention. Let’s take a look at the carnage they’re both left with: a failed marriage (not theirs) that likely left a perfectly nice lady named Emily in emotional shambles for years; a failed marriage (theirs) that included Ross lying about having annulled it; and a child who will forever be deeply confused about how any of this happened. I mean, Ross buys a fucking pet monkey. That is not the act of a man in good emotional health.
‘Straight to the Moon, Alice’ from The Honeymooners
Younger people might not be familiar with The Honeymooners, but it’s undeniably a central piece of sitcom history. Unfortunately, it might be even harder to get modern watchers to give it a fair shake, as soon as you try to explain the series’ most famous joke. That being, of course, when the beleaguered Ralph Kramden says to his wife, “One of these days, Alice,” followed by something like, “POW! Right in the kisser!”
Look, I understand it’s an old show, from a different time. But so is Amos ‘n’ Andy, and no one’s telling their friends to check out a sitcom where everybody’s in blackface. I realize too, that this is perfect fuel for the “snowflake/annoying scold” furious men of the internet, but even knowing it was just a joke in bad taste, it’s still hard to watch without the slightest crease of a cringe in your face. If your friend made a joke that he was gonna punch his wife in the mouth, you’re telling me the rest of that Super Bowl party would be normal?
The Junior Mint from Seinfeld
Seinfeld is a show about total assholes. Like Always Sunny, that’s what makes it so fun to watch. If a single member of the cast was capable of solving any problem with anything less than basically criminal fraud, it would truly have been a show about nothing. Most people who have run-ins with the Seinfeld crew don’t come out of it with their life improved. One man, in particular, though, over the course of a single episode, has probably the worst block of time in his entire life. This man is Roy, from the episode “The Junior Mint.” Which is a great episode, don’t get it twisted. But the man spends roughly 22 minutes with both his emotional and physical well-being getting beaten to a pulp by the crew.
Over the course of the episode, Roy is visited by Elaine, who broke up with him because he was overweight, but who, seeing he lost a lot of weight (due to the deep depression from his breakup with her) is interested again. They make plans for after the operation, which Kramer and Jerry end up observing because, well… because of Kramer reasons. At which point Kramer famously drops a Junior Mint into Roy’s body cavity. Roy, unsurprisingly, develops an infection afterward. Hearing that Roy, an artist, may die, George buys a bunch of his art, hoping it becomes valuable when he does. Miraculously, Roy recovers, and, eating a post-recovery meal with gusto, asks Elaine when they’re meeting up. Seeing how much he’s eating, she cancels the plans. We never see Roy again.
Elaine destroys his mind (we can assume he’s going straight back into that depression), Kramer and Jerry almost destroy his body and George bets on the whole thing. Even for Seinfeld, it’s pretty dark.
Meredith Gets Rabies from The Office
Again, we’re looking at maybe one of the best episodes of a beloved sitcom, but the darkness here isn’t from the outcome of the episode that aired, but what could have been. Besides Michael absolutely nailing Meredith with his car and then spending the whole episode claiming it wasn’t his fault. The episode is called “Fun Run,” and it gets its name from the charity run Michael cooks up after finding out that Meredith has been exposed to rabies.
Let’s just, for fun, though, imagine a Scranton timeline where Meredith actually contracted rabies, or had been too late to get the immunization. Rabies is a funny disease to say, but it’s also, in reality, one of the most gruesome possible ways to die. Once you start displaying symptoms, rabies is a death sentence. If Meredith had really contracted rabies, no run, no matter how fun, would have prevented her horrific descent into what is called the “acute neurologic period” of rabies infection, where Meredith would exhibit symptoms including delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, thrashing and biting, before most likely dying of sudden cardiac arrest.
Though if they were going to write her off the show anyways, that would have been one hell of a way to go.