The 5 Dumbest Notes TV Shows Have Received from Standards & Practices
Every major TV network has its own standards and practices office, the specialized unit that works tirelessly to ensure that the world of television in no way reflects our nudity and F-bomb-filled real-world lives. While many suggestions from the TV censors may seem pretty straightforward, occasionally, the notes dispensed to creatives are idiotic enough to give even the most Flanderish prude pause, like how…
‘Friends’: NBC Had Weirdly Specific Rules Concerning Condoms
The second season of Friends featured a classic episode where Monica and Rachel argue over who should get the last condom left in the apartment (because Richard and Ross are apparently too useless to bring their own). While the 1990s zeitgeist was dominated by conversations about safe sex, NBC had some extremely persnickety rules regarding this scene. Not only were they forbidden from showing the condom’s “foil packet,” none of the characters were actually allowed to say the word “condom,” lest millions of Americans be exposed to the basic idea of contraception.
‘The Simpsons’: Make Sure Homer Is ‘Screaming in Pain’ After Pouring Hot Wax in His Mouth
Homer Simpson jumped Springfield Gorge on a skateboard, drank flaming cocktails hastily made with children’s cough syrup and once used a loaded handgun as a can opener, but network censors were especially concerned about the time he briefly drank hot wax, in the episode “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer).”
According to Matt Groening, the network censor wrote: “To discourage imitation by young and foolish viewers, when Homer begins to pour the hot wax in his mouth, please have him scream in pain so kids will understand that doing this would actually burn their mouths.” The writers didn’t take the suggestion and instead used this piece of condescending advice as dialogue for the simple-minded Ralph Wiggum.
‘The Mob Doctor’: Make Sure the Urine Isn’t Too Yellow
The short-lived Fox series The Mob Doctor was an attempt to infuse the mafia intrigue of The Sopranos with the medical drama of the roughly 5,000 shows about doctors that are constantly on TV. Since it was a show about a medical professional, naturally bodily fluids were occasionally shown. According to creator Josh Berman, they received a note from standards and practices concerning a scene depicting someone’s pee, warning: “When you show the character’s urine, make sure it’s not too yellow because too yellow violates network standards.”
No word on whether or not the censors had specialized swatches to determine the least offensive shade of piss.
‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete’: Be Careful with the Word ‘Blowhole’
Nickelodeon’s live-action comedy The Adventures of Pete & Pete found one of its child protagonists, “Little” Pete, routinely using the word “Blowhole” as an insult. Adorable, right? Well, not to the Nickelodeon censors who tried to get the writers to remove the word because it “sounded vaguely R-rated.” The show’s creators were eventually forced to read the “dictionary definition” of “blowhole” to these literal adults before it was given the green light to use on the show.
‘Gravity Falls’: A Dude Can’t Put His Arm Around Another Dude
Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls — aka Twin Peaks Babies — once shared the staggering number of “real emails” he received from Disney’s standards and practices department concerning the show. They included everything from losing the phrase “pooface” to scrapping the word “chub” since it has a “sexual connotation.” But the peak of Disney’s censors’ feebleminded rage, and their apparent corporately-mandated gay panic, was their issue with a scene in which one male cop puts his arm around another male cop because “their affectionate relationship should remain comical versus flirtatious.”
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