Recently, we’ve written about shows that were canceled before even airing a single episode – now, we’re back to writing about shows that did manage to air, but barely. Here are 13 shows that were quickly pulled due to controversy!
1960s variety show Turn on it didn’t make it through a single episode before it was pulled off the air – after 11 minutes. The experimental show blended sketches (often offensive and raunchy), stop-motion, animation, puppets, and synthesizer clicks—and the audience wasn’t a fan. After too many phone-in complaints from impatient audience members, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland quickly cut the broadcast, telling ABC, “If you naughty little boys have to write dirty words on the walls , please do not use our walls. ” Other affiliates followed suit, and the show was canceled, and the already filmed second episode never aired.
In case you’re wondering how offensive it was … the sketches featured blackface, KKK members in the audience, and star David telling a Christian monk, “We’ll forget Auschwitz if you drop the charges for murder!” Other sketches joked about foot fetishists, birth control, the benefits of domestic violence, and a woman offering a sexual favor to a firing squad about to kill him. Television even today.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it America’s Funniest Home Videos, and you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there was an Australian version — but you probably haven’t heard of its outcome, Australia’s most daring Home Videos. The show followed the same format as Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, except that all the videos were a little (okay, a lot) clearer. The show only aired one episode*, which was cut a little over half an hour into the show, after network head Kerry Packer called and demanded that the broadcast be stopped.
One of the videos, just so you can get an idea, showed a man lifting weights with his penis.
Videos after dark tried the same thing in America. Although the first episode aired in its entirety, it was quickly canceled – apparently American audiences weren’t too kind to Australian audiences.
The 2000s were the decade of the dating show, and not every show was a winner. For example, Playing it straight A woman named Jackie dated 14 men — only five of whom were straight. Jackie’s goal was to choose one of the straight men (if they shared $1 million) – if she chose one of the gay men, he would win all the money. The critics found the show offensive, and the show stopped after three episodes, the official reason being poor ratings – but Jackie herself said she thought there was “something deeper” going on.
A more popular chat show from the 2000s, Rock of Loveproduced a ton of spin-offs: including one named Megan wants to be a millionaire, which focused on Megan Hauserman’s search for a rich husband after a stint on several VH1 reality shows.
However, only three episodes aired before the show was cancelled. Why? Because one contestant, Ryan Jenkins (later revealed to be the show’s third runner-up), was a murderer. After leaving the show, he married Jasmine Fiore, then killed her a few months later. He then died by suicide a few days after her body was found.
Many reality shows focus on lifestyles that viewers are unfamiliar with – like the 2015 show, Neighbors with Benefits, who followed swingers in Ohio. The show was canceled after only two episodes, likely due to backlash from viewers, critics, and the community depicted in the show.
Another controversial reality show was called off a little further back Who is your Daddy?. In the show, TJ Myers, who was adopted as a child, tried to guess who her birth father was from several different men – if she guessed correctly, she would receive $100,000.
Adoption agencies slammed the show, which they found exploitative and trivialized the experiences of adoptees, saying it was appalling and destructive.
The Chop: Britain’s Best Woodworker it may be an innocuous woodworking show from its title, but it made waves when viewers appeared to recognize racist tattoos on a cast member’s face – including 88, which is widely believed to mean “Heil Hitler.” Darren Lumsden denied this, but the show was still cancelled, with A&E UK releasing a statement saying, “Contestants’ tattoos include symbols that may be linked to far-right ideologies and may to be the cause of attack; we sincerely apologize for that and regret doing so. Our processes did not prompt further investigation earlier.”
It is one of the most infamous sitcoms of all time Heil Honey, I’m home! which showed Hitler and Eva Braun living near a Jewish family in the suburbs. Unsurprisingly, the British show was extremely controversial, and only one episode aired (in the 90s), although seven films were made.
A controversial sitcom later work it a 2012 comedy about two men who dress as women to get a job after they quit. GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign were so opposed to it, that they took out a Diversity ad against the show. The show – which was also panned by critics – was canceled after two episodes aired.
The Dana Carvey Show made waves in its first episode when it started with a sketch showing then-president Bill Clinton breastfeeding babies, puppies and kittens. In the first few minutes, millions of viewers changed the channel or turned off the TV.
The show never achieved this audience, and was eventually canceled after seven episodes. You can watch the sketch here.
ESPN took a chance in 2017 by greenlighting the late night show Game Barstool Van Kent. Dan “Big Cat” Katz and Barstool’s PFT Commenter star in this film and various ESPN and SportsCenter personalities were guests on the show. The controversy stemmed from Barstool’s history of misogyny, with NFL reporter Sam Ponder calling out ESPN for giving Barstool a bigger platform. After the first episode, ESPN president John Skipper canceled the show, saying “While we were allowed the content of the show, I made the mistake of assuming that we could separate our efforts from the Barstool site and its content .”
And finally, we can’t entirely blame this one on controversy, but on the controversial medical drama, Wonderland, It was canceled after only two episodes in 2000, and it seemed at least partially to blame. The National Alliance on Mental Illness criticized the show, which depicted a psych ward, for portraying patients in psych wards as “killers, crazies, and freaks.” However, since it was also broadcast at the same time ERperhaps the network felt it was facing too much competition.
What controversial TV show has been more successful than these shows you can’t believe made it on the air? Let us know in the comments below!