17 Classic TV Shows That Would Be Off Air Today Due to Their Portrayal of Relationships

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Mass media plays a very important role in educating, entertaining, and setting new societal agendas. The ever-evolving modern landscape is one of inclusivity and mutual respect. Classic TV shows from the past have portrayed several relationships that would be brutally rejected, leading to the show’s cancellation today. Here are 17 classic TV shows that wouldn’t be aired today because of such portrayals.

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Honeymooners

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While Honeymooners was a hit in 1955, it would never air today. While liked by many for its humorous nature, the threats of domestic violence by Ralph Kramden towards his wife Alice were very real. Regardless of its humor, these threats would be highly problematic and unacceptable in today’s landscape. Additionally, Ralph disregarding his wife’s opinion in many instances, coupled with his threats, would receive backlash for its misogynistic nature.

Bewitched

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Samantha was a powerful witch in the 1960s series Bewitched. She could do anything she wished. Instead, the show made her support her husband’s career, and she used magic on her mortal husband, Darrin, to influence his behavior in her favor. Feminists would find it oppressive that the show focused on her husband’s career. They would also find it oppressive that she used her magic to manipulate her husband.

Three’s Company

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The show’s premise of roommates in unconventional relationships might be tame today, but the constant sexual innuendo wouldn’t be suitable for today’s family-friendly sitcoms. The whole dynamic was based on stereotypes. Today’s audiences wouldn’t find humor in forced situations. They would prefer emotional intimacy instead of forced sexual tension.

The Jeffersons

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The Jeffersons was a groundbreaking show but would struggle to air today. The show’s portrayal of race relations could be seen as outdated. George and Weezy’s constant bickering with their working-class neighbors, the Bunkers, relies on stereotypes. Additionally, Florence, the Black housekeeper, reinforces certain tropes.  Modern audiences might find these dynamics insensitive.

All in the Family

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This was a revolutionary show, but it wouldn’t fly today. Archie Bunker’s constant bigotry towards Edith, minorities, and anyone with different views would take it off the air in an instant. The show used humor to expose prejudice, but modern audiences might find it offensive.  Edith’s submissiveness and stereotypical portrayals, such as Gloria’s “ditzy blonde” persona, wouldn’t be tolerated.

Gilligan’s Island

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Gilligan’s Island wouldn’t fly today. Gender roles are rigid: Mary Ann cooks, Ginger worries about looks, and the Skipper bosses everyone. The portrayal of the “savage” native character, the Minnow Wash, is a stereotype. Romantic relationships are non-existent, replaced by unrealistic will-they-won’t-they-tension.

The Love Boat

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The Love Boat’s romantic escapades wouldn’t sail today.  Relationships were fleeting, built on unrealistic instant attraction during a vacation fling. Gender roles were rigid, with objectification of women as prizes to be pursued.  The show lacked depth, ignoring the challenges of genuine relationships like communication or commitment.

I Love Lucy

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“I Love Lucy” wouldn’t fly today. Lucy’s schemes to get into showbiz often manipulate Ricky, creating a control dynamic instead of a partnership. Her wacky antics rely on him being the husband who has had it up to here with his wife. Additionally, the show reinforces traditional gender roles: Lucy, the housewife with big dreams, and Ricky, the breadwinner who gets frustrated by her antics. While funny then, these portrayals might be seen as unhealthy and outdated today.

Different Strokes

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The show “Different Strokes” comes under fire primarily because of the relationship between Mr. Drummond and his adopted children of color, Arnold and Wilis Jackson. Interestingly, despite Mr. Drummond’s good deed of adopting the children and acting as their guardians, this show is criticized for perpetuating the white savior trope.

Saved by the Bell

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Every episode of “Saved by the Bell ” was punctuated with controversial content such as clicking pictures of girls in swimsuits without their consent and even kissing one in another episode. In addition to these problematic storylines, an episode titled “The Lisa Card” features Lisa Turtle being exploited by Zack Morris. After maxing out her dad’s credit card, she agrees to Zack’s offer of kiss coupons at the Bayside beach for $1. The idea of such events, let alone its manipulative nature, would never hold today’s standards.

Friends

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Millions of people around the globe love this sitcom, and it is one of the best comedy series in television history. However, one of its arcs that did not age well was the one that portrayed Monica in a relationship with her father’s best friend, Richard. He knew her since she was a baby and this glaring age gap accompanied by the circumstances makes this relationship frowned upon. The discontentment from Monica’s parents upon hearing the news made it clear why this was not a great idea, eventually leading to the dissolution of the relationship.

Leave it to Beaver

Rigid gender roles and stereotypes have been outdated, with equal opportunities and mutual respect thriving among family members. The relationship portrayed between Ward and June in the show “Leave It to Beaver” is a typical patriarchal one. June was restricted to the role of homemaker, and Beaver, the breadwinner, solely solved all the problems. Such representations that limit opportunities for women would be off the air in modern society.

Everybody Loves Raymond

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There is no doubt that Raymond was a momma’s boy. He used to prioritize his mother’s wishes to the extent of hurting his wife. Raymond Barone’s relationship with his wife, Debra Barone, is considered dismissive and condescending. To please his mother, Raymond often ill-treats his wife and always puts her in a secondary role.

Dawson’s Creek

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It was customary to have huge age gaps in TV shows. In the show Dawson’s Creek, 15-year-old Pacy Witter, a high school student, got into a relationship with his teacher, 36-year-old Tamara Jacobs. This relationship is inappropriate for its sexualized student-teacher dynamics, making such a portrayal unethical.

Gossip Girl

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Hook-up culture, which is widely prevalent today, disrupts the true notion of love and replaces its significance with lustful desires. In “Gossip Girl,” Dan Humphery has a brief fling with his teacher Rachel Carr. This one has crossed boundaries so far that it borders on fantasy.

Gilmore Girls

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Gilmore Girls, which first aired in 2000, has its own controversies, from relationships showcasing Rory Gilmore’s affair with her professor, Asher Fleming, to Lane Kim’s unhealthy relationships.

The Fosters

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A common theme in many TV shows and movies is the relationship between step-siblings, who eventually fall in love. As the show’s name suggests, “The Foster” revolves around the romantic journey between Brandon Foster and Callie Adams Foster. Dating step-siblings is not only socially unacceptable but also perpetuates a very wrong idea about family dynamics.

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