4 TV Shows You Loved That Were a Nightmare Behind the Scenes
Like many people from my generation, I was raised by the streets: Sesame Street, Street Sharks, Street Fighter. I've spent so many years obsessively watching those shows, and hundreds of others like them, that television is now the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to my childhood ... which is why I can never, EVER learn how my favorite TV series were made. Whenever I do, I discover that the same shows that brought me so much joy when I was a kid have brought nothing but pain and misery to the people making them, like how ...
Star Trek: The Next Generation Was Terrorized by a Dying Despot and Body Odor
In 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on television with all the enthusiasm of a death row inmate heading toward his execution by lethal enema. Back then, no one really thought that this follow-up to the adventures of Kirk and Spock would be a success. Not the studio, not even Patrick Stewart, who took the role of Captain Picard because, according to his agent, the series was bound to fail miserably, so he was essentially signing up for a free American holiday and a chance to work on his tan.
A chance he hasn't taken to this day.
The only person who really believed in the show was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and when I say "believed," I mean "believed" with a capital BELI for "Beyond Excessive and a Little Insane." As executive producer, Roddenberry told the writers that, in his vision of the new Trek verse, interpersonal conflicts no longer existed.
Everyone on the show was supposed to act and feel like this great big family full of love, sunshine, and Tribble farts, even if that made it impossible to write drama. Ironically, the writers who had a problem with this were promptly told to live long and prosper in another job, while those who stayed had to sit around and discuss Roddenberry's ideas about sex in space, so who was the real winner here?
The staff's therapists?
While working on TNG, Roddenberry was reportedly suffering from brain disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, which ultimately culminated in a stroke in 1989 and his death in 1991. It's easy to see how his condition could have influenced his fanatical behavior while developing the series. For a man in rapidly declining health, it's not unusual to cling to an idea of a utopian future without lust, greed, or conflict after realizing he probably won't live long enough to see it happen for real. Still, by the end of the third season, Roddenberry's tyrannical grip on the scripts had purportedly caused 24 writers to quit the show out of frustration. Or maybe it had something to do with the unbearable stench caused by the new TNG uniforms, which apparently smelled worse than the inside of Shatner's girdle.
Everyone in this picture might as well be wearing a tiny red shirt on their nose.
It turns out that spandex is like the memory foam of smells, retaining the whiff of every drop of boob, armpit, and ball sweat you ooze into it. This slowly turned the TNG uniforms into skintight torture devices that steamed the actors in their own disgusting aromas throughout the day.
Also? They were apparently very painful. According to the show's costume designer, "Tight spandex fabric also gave the cast members recurrent back problems" until the costumes were thankfully replaced with wool alternatives around Season 3. However, that still leaves nearly 50 episodes of The Next Generation where the main cast was constantly in a state of nauseating olfactory agony.
Best Star Trek series ever.
The Power Rangers Crew Was Full of Raging Homophobes
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was one of the first non-cartoons I really got into, mainly because it still felt like a cartoon, you know? Every character was a color-coded cliche, the fight scenes were more like grunting ballet, and it was all just so silly and campy and stupidly enjoyable, but only as long as your name wasn't David Yost.
David Yost played Billy Cranston (the original Blue Ranger) throughout MMPR, their first movie, and later Power Rangers Zeo, before his character finally moved to another planet to boink some aliens. We were of course sorry to see him go, but on the whole, it felt like a deserving end for a character who's taught kids everywhere that even nerds can kick some impressive amounts of ass. Except the show's producers, writers, and directors felt that Yost didn't deserve to play a badass space ninja in the first place. Not because he was nerdy, but because (and I'm paraphrasing here) they felt that a person can't be a superhero while constantly craving so much dick.
"Anyway, here's your battle phallic symbol."
Yost didn't come out as gay until after he left the show, but there has been talk about his sexual orientation pretty much since he first joined the cast in 1993. So naturally, not wanting to accidentally treat a gay guy like a human being, a lot of the crew decided to just play it safe and be complete jerks to Yost whenever they had the chance.
According to the actor, he had been called a "faggot" on numerous occasions while filming the show, and even had to deal with the producers calling in his co-stars and questioning them about his sexuality. You'd think that that could have been summed up by a quick "I heard the dude likes dudes," but maybe they wanted details or something? Pictures? Videos? I don't know how horrible people think.
It eventually got so bad that one day Yost decided he'd had enough and simply walked off set during lunch, never to return. Some may call it unprofessional. Yost called it trying to avoid suicide due to all the anger and emotional abuse. That sadly didn't help much, because he then spent two years trying to "pray the gay away" before finally suffering a nervous breakdown.
Silly fight scene break! No tears, dammit!
But as heinous as I find these accusations, I think that it's ultimately a good idea to have a conversation about whether gay people (even if their characters are never portrayed as such) can play superheroes. Therefore, I propose that we take every awkward, geeky, and dorky kid who has ever felt inspired by Yost's Blue Ranger, put them in the same room with the allegedly homophobic producers of Power Rangers, then lock the doors and ignore the screams for the next 20 minutes.
Related: Wait ... 'Power Rangers' Got Good?
The A-Team Had a Strict "No Girls Allowed" Policy
The A-Team was like a secret government experiment to create the ultimate TV show for boys. The series starred Special Forces soldiers; it had gunfights; it had high-speed collisions; and it taught us the joy of making improvised weaponry. Needless to say, I loved every second of it, but then sort of forgot about the show until I moved to Japan and discovered that its Japanese title is actually A-Team: Suicide Attack Bastards.
That title really stuck with me, because doesn't it perfectly sum up what The A-Team was all about (that being the cartoonish adventures of the four humors shooting homemade explosions at bad guys)? It certainly conveys the right level of preteen machismo that inundated the show, both on and off camera. In fact, the series was so much about the penis that half the cast actually took it upon themselves to make sure every woman on set felt like a recently laid turd atop a pile of fresh laundry.
"Girls are gross!"
Melinda Culea, who played the go-getting reporter Amy Allen, was the sole off ingredient in The A-Team's sausage stew throughout Season 1 and half of Season 2, until she was replaced by Marla Heasley's Tawnia Baker. Now, we don't know the exact reason for her departure, but according to Dirk "Faceman" Benedict, it was because she complained a lot. What about? Oh, you know: wanting her character to fire a gun, get in on the action, be more assertive, and other chick stuff like that.
"But ... but ... your vagina." -The A-Team writing staff
Culea's replacement was eventually let go as well, which shouldn't have been that much of a shock, after George "Hannibal" Peppard allegedly said to Heasley during her first day:
We don't want you on the show. None of the guys want you here. The only reason you're here is because the network and the producers want you.
Peppard later claimed that his comment concerned the nature of the show and not Heasley's abilities as an actress ... and yet he later uttered crap seemingly straight out of Anchorman: "Whenever the studio slips an actress onto the team, she becomes a distraction. She always slows down the action. She's someone who's only there for the glamour shots."
It's a miracle that he didn't accuse Heasley of attracting bears with her periods.
"You know that you're endangering the lives of everyone on this plane, right?"
The Cast of Saved by the Bell Had to Constantly Deal With Screech's Douchebag Antics
In the late '80s/early '90s, television was flooded with a string of innocuous sitcoms starring a group of teenagers who looked like the aftermath of a vicious prank perpetrated on a blind person's closet. But among all the pastel-washed shows with painfully unrealistic portrayals of high school life, one stood out from the rest: the 1989-1993 series Saved by the Bell.
The first sitcom with an openly sociopathic protagonist.
Saved by the Bell wasn't necessarily better than all the other shows that came before it, but it arrived just as a new generation of viewers found themselves in need of their own cliche stories about cliques dealing with "problems" that could be solved in 24 minutes or less. I think that's the main reason why so many people loved this show and its characters, although hopefully your favorite character wasn't Dustin Diamond's Screech, because, by the man's own admission, he is what made working on the show less pleasant than getting a colonoscopy with a GoPro camera.
And about twice as shitty.
On the show, Screech was the squeaky-voiced nerd and what some would consider the heart of the SBTB gang, despite being the butt of the occasional joke. But according to Diamond's 2009 tell-all book, Behind the Bell, the man behind Screech was no butt, because everyone else was the butt, and he was the especially large penis fucking that butt. So take that! He calls his penis a "monster" and describes shooting in different locations as "all you can bang buffets" and "subsidized trips to Assylvania."
Yeah, the entire book is pretty much just that mixed with stories about Diamond "owning" his colleagues, like when he sneaked backstage and pissed in the bag of an extra who had previously insulted him. Between every line of his book, it's clear that the truth is that Dustin Diamond didn't fit in with the rest of the cast because he was a bit younger and several bits douchier. Instead of owning up to this loneliness, he went around spreading baseless rumors about everyone being involved in drunken/stoned threesomes and later published them in a book with his old co-workers' photo hovering above his dick on the cover.
But that is not what Diamond ultimately wants you to take away from his book. He mainly wants you to know that he was a dangerous, partying playboy, always ready with a sick burn or a clever putdown.
Just going to leave this picture here for no particular reason.
For example, he frequently refers to Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack) as a "bitch" and calls Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Kelly) a "set whore and Hollywood's pass-around girl." Interestingly, he never claims to have slept with her, but that's OK, because his huge penis has allegedly helped Diamond bang over 2,000 other women. I guess he really wanted to hammer in the point that Screech's squeaky voice was the side effect of Diamond's mutating body struggling to grow a permanent popped collar out of his bones and cartilage.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist an editor. Contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more television goodness, check out 19 Classic TV Shows (If They Never Got Cancelled).