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10 scandalous TV moments that aren’t so scandalous anymore

By / Published on Saturday, 21 Nov 2015 05:00 AM / No Comments / 2230 views
Lucille Ball’s character tells her husband she is pregnant (without ever using the word).BlondieDct/Youtube

Lucille Ball’s character tells her husband she is pregnant (without ever using the word).

TV shows have long been known to occasionally push the envelope — but some shows tend to shock more than others.

Here’s a look at 10 TV moments that once seemed scandalous, but years later seem tame:

1. The pregnancy on “I Love Lucy”

In an episode called “Lucy is Enceinte” — she couldn’t even be called pregnant on the show — Lucille Ball’s character tells her husband she is pregnant (without ever using the word).

For 1952 audiences, the subject was extremely controversial.

Lucy and Desi slept in separate beds on screen and it was one of the first open references to the real-life consequences of doing the dirty.

Exported.;Nick at Nite

“The Lucy Show” was a spin-off of “I Love Lucy,” and showed a widowed Lucy Carmichael sharing a home with Vivian Bagley.

2. A divorced woman on “The Lucy Show”

“The Lucy Show” was a spin-off of “I Love Lucy,” and it also featured controversial elements.

It ran on CBS from 1962 to 1968 and showed a widowed Lucy Carmichael sharing a home with Vivian Bagley, a divorced woman at a time when divorce was still a scarlet letter.

3. The Kirk-Uhura “Star Trek” smooch

In 1968, during the tensions of the civil rights movement, “Star Trek” featured a shocking interracial kiss.

At the behest of telekinetic aliens who compelled them to do it, Nyota Uhura shared a steamy on-screen kiss with Captain Kirk and the pair went down in interstellar TV history.

4. The kiss on “All in the Family”

In 1972, Sammy Davis, Jr., made a guest appearance as himself on an episode of “All in the Family.” The episode was filled with jokes playing on the racial tensions of the day — and on Archie’s blatant racism — including a moment in which Davis wrongly assumes that Archie’s daughter Gloria is married to a black man.

In the show, Davis accidentally leaves his briefcase in Archie’s cab and ends up paying a visit to the Bunker home to retrieve the lost baggage.

Davis spends most of the episode at their home and, just before the 30 minutes is up, he and Archie pose for a picture — and Davis plants a wet smooch on Archie’s cheek right as the camera goes off.

It wasn’t on the lips, but it was still an interracial — and same-sex — kiss, and for that it seemed shocking to viewers of the day.

5. Maude’s abortion

In 1972, just before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal throughout the country, Bea Arthur, as the title character of the show “Maude,” made a controversial TV decision: She had an abortion.

It wasn’t actually the first abortion on the small screen, but it was the first time a show explicitly referenced the procedure and involved a main character in a major TV show.

For usage credit please use; Courtesy Everett CollectionCourtesy Everett Collection

In 1972, Bea Arthur, as the title character of the show “Maude,” made a controversial TV decision: She had an abortion.

6. Billy Crystal on “Soap”

“Soap,” which debuted in 1977, featured Billy Crystal as Jodie Dallas, one of the first gay characters on TV.

It caused a backlash from conservatives and at the time. Crystal said he caught some flak for taking the role.

At the Television Critics Association in 2015, Crystal said: “I did it in front of a live audience, and there were times where I would say to Bob, ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, ‘What is your problem?’”

By today’s standards — with shows like “The L Word” and “Orange is the New Black” — that role seems incredibly tame.

In 1986, Mark Harmon played Dr. Bobby Caldwell, who was diagnosed with AIDS on an episode of “St. Elsewhere.”Nancy Smith/Youtube

In 1986, Mark Harmon played Dr. Bobby Caldwell, who was diagnosed with AIDS on an episode of “St. Elsewhere.”

7. AIDS in “St. Elsewhere”

In 1986, Mark Harmon played Dr. Bobby Caldwell, who was diagnosed with AIDS on an episode of “St. Elsewhere.”

The doc contracted the disease from a prostitute, giving the already controversial plot move an added salaciousness.

Candice Bergen (l.) in character as Murphy Brown, and Elizabeth Taylor are shown in a scene from an upcoming episode of "Murphy Brown."BYRON J. COHEN

Candice Bergen (l.) in character as Murphy Brown, and Elizabeth Taylor are shown in a scene from an upcoming episode of “Murphy Brown.”

8. Murphy Brown’s baby

“Murphy Brown” irritated conservatives and family values supporters when, in the show’s third season, the title character ended up pregnant as the result of a one-night stand.

The affair was with her ex-husband, but nonetheless it meant she was bearing a baby out of wedlock.

In May 1992, Brown gave birth to a boy, and later that month Vice President Dan Quayle roundly condemned the show for “mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”

NO SALES MARCH 14, 1997 FILE PHOTO AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED ONLY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE. AP provides access to this publicly distributed HAAP Photo/Touchstone Television/Mike Ansell

Ellen DeGeneres made history when she came out both on TV and in real life.

9. Ellen coming out on “Ellen”

In an amazing two-fer, Ellen DeGeneres made history when she came out both on TV and in real life.

There’d been rumors both about the actress’s own sexuality and about a possible on-screen revelation from her character for months when DeGeneres came out personally with a TIME cover story in April 1997.

Then, a week later, Ellen Morgan — DeGeneres’ TV character — came out in a two-part episode titled “The Puppy Episode.”

More than 40 million people tuned in to watch the episode, but afterward ratings fell and the show was cancelled at the end of the following season.

10. Alexis on “Ugly Betty”

One of the first trans characters in a primetime broadcast series, Rebecca Romjin played Alexis Meade, who came out as transgender in 2007 during the show’s first season.

A few episode after the pilot, it was revealed that the shadowy, bandaged figure named Alexis was actually the post-transition version of magazine editor Alex Meade.

That same year, Candis Cayne played a transgender character on “Dirty Sexy Money” but since then there have been other characters, notably Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black.”

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