I've been thinking about this off and on for a while now. When was the very first "non-cable" TV show that used curse words?
Generally the words "ass" and "bitch", because I never heard these words prior to the 90s. To find the answer, we'll have to go back to 1987. Of course Fox-TV debuted in 1986, but the programs weren't out of the norm. In one year FOX Television brought forth a new ranchy sitcom called: "Married With Children". This show was a trendsetter, never have there been a show like this. So this marks the beginning of television downfall.
Two years later (1989) on the same FOX network came an animated comedy series: "The Simpsons", again, there was never an animated program that had characters behave so rudely. There would have been though, "The Garbage Pail Kids" was scheduled to debut on CBS Saturday Mornings in 1986 but it never did... probably because the Garbage Pail Kids looked hideous, and it promoted bad manners... so it was pulled before it aired.
So *The Simpsons* marked the "Toilet Humor" in animation... but it never began using the swear words that I've mentioned above. The animated "toilet humor" trend followed with Nickelodeon's "Ren & Stimpy" and MTV's "Beavis & Butt-Head" and from there it became even more stranger with South Park, Family Guy, need I say more?. In "Beavis & Butt-Head" the swear word "ass" and "bitch" was used often, but this was cable televison... not analog broadcasts, so I wouldn't count this as the first. Read on and you'll find out, I'm merely blueprinting the moral decline on regular television, not cable or satellite.
Okay, here's one you probably never heard anyone mentioned. "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" was the trend setter to being the first sitcom to have "hip-hop" as it's theme, along with "rap soundtracks" during the episodes.
Can you think of any sitcoms with "hip-hop" themes and soundtracks prior to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air which debuted in 1990?
"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" came out in the fall of 1990, and all of the black sitcoms at the time had general themes and soundtracks in the episodes, none of them sounded "hip-hop." And futhermore, Fresh Prince was for the general audience. It's strange, these days sitcoms aren't done in front of a live studio audience... but they'll play fake laugh tracks to let a person know what's funny.
Shortly after the success of "Fresh Prince" came various black sitcoms from Fox Television, all having "hip-hop" themes songs and soundtracks. Shows like "Martin", "Living Single", "South Central" (remember this?), and a few others. The difference between "Fresh Prince" and the other Fox sitcoms was that his show was family oriented and clean humor. But the Fox sitcoms were ranchy and they centered more on "relationships" and "sex" and the humor was not for kids.
In pre-90s television, they used inside jokes that only the adults who watched them understood, but it went right over the kids heads because they thought the character was talking of about something else. For example, in one episode of the Cosby Show... Cliff was in bed with Clair and the room was cold, they were covered in blankets. Clair was coming on to Cliff, and she told him to turn off the light... and then Cliff said something to the effect of: "I would, but I'm too stiff right now." This was at the end of the episode. My point is that the adult viewers got the inside joke, but the kids did not. Inside jokes was even done on "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and other shows that only adults got the joke. But you can forget about insider jokes with today's TV sitcoms, they just say and do whatever and could careless. They used to regulate themselves on the quality of their content, but now they want you to regulate what your kids watch by putting those TV Rating at the top corner of the screen. This gives them the freedom to say whatever even if a child is watching, and people wonder why the most youths in this country are acting like brats. The TV Media shapes real life, everything we talk about to how we dress and act is all based on what we saw on television.
Now, The very first show to have used curse words on national television (I'm assuming) was: "Martin"... when I first heard Martin say "bitch" and "ass" I knew this would be the trend setter. I had thought those cuss words were major, and I was shocked to have heard it on national television.
So there's your answer... "Martin" was the first show to use major cuss words on national television for it's time.
How about Talkshows? Hey, don't let "Jerry Springer" fool you into believing his show was the trend setter for outrageous and controversial Talkshows. "The Richard Bey Show" was the real trend setter, his show was way out there. It wasn't syndicated until 1995 when Springer's show was growing popular... Richard Bey arrived on the syndicated scene too late... and when they saw his show, they assumed it was a mere rip off. In 1996, Richard Bey was cancelled.. and Springer's show remained, but it's a shadow of it what it use to be.
Talkshows reached it's peak in 1996. There were about 15 (or more) Talkshows on during 1996 from 9am to 6pm, there were so many that the remainder of them aired in the late night hours. The following year (1997) many of them were cancelled, because I'm guessing that the Talkshow idea had saturated television.
They were all doing "Ricki Lake Show" kind of topics, and no one was being original in ideas... and the Jenny Jones Show controversy also contributed to the major hack job on Talkshows in 1997.
In 1998, a court show debuted by the name of "Judge Judy"... after it's success followed more of them. There was a real fake one name "Moral Court" with "Larry Elder" as the judge. This was passed off as a real court show but it was FAKE... you can see reruns of it on "ION-TV" (formerly PAX) at 6pm weekdays.
Now ever since 1998, Court Shows had taken over daytime television.
I can go on and on. American Idol... It became now a popular show because of the british guy's accent "Simmon Cowell" and his rude remarks to contestants.
Now, in almost all new contestant shows... there is always 1 snobby judge with a british accent. Have you noticed? And yet, another new trend.
What is my point in this post? My point is that television are saturated with shows that follows a trend. They test us with 1 unique show to see how the ratings do, and if the ratings is high... different variations of it pop up on other networks, and they milk it for all it's worth until the ratings decline. It's evident with reality shows, and it's sad to say but I don't see reality programs going away any time soon.
Want to know the true reason television has gone downhill? The old TV programmers has either retired or died out.. and new younger programmers replaced them. These new programmers tried to fix something that wasn't broken, they've squeezed the credits to the sides and bottom of the screen, so now we won't know the real name of an actor or the year the program aired.
They have included those annoying pop-up "promo ads" in the TV programs, so we no longer can watch TV shows without promo ads in the footage. The station's logo used to pop up a few times during a program (sometimes not all all) 11 years ago. Now, the network's logo is there all the time except when showing commercials.
Another thing I've noticed is that the new TV network and station programmers have no regard for their viewers.
Just 18 years ago when a TV station cancels a show, it was the norm to announce the cancelletion and then introduce the new show. For example, if you tuned into a show such as "Popeye" every weekday at 2pm... then Monday you tune in again at 2pm to watch "Popeye", but instead, you are greeted with the following voice-over announcement: "Popeye will not be seen today, so that may bring you The Flintstones." And then The Flintstones would air in this 2pm timeslot. This was the norm with all television shows in the pre-90s era. (You can see two examples of this in "Volume 7" of my collection, very nostalgic.)
These days they don't care to at least inform us that a regularly scheduled program has been cancelled. We go to watch our favorite show in anticipation only to see a different show in it's place without giving us the heads up in advance. The next day we tune in to see if the favorite program is there, but it's not... and we realize now that it has been replaced and this current program is now regularly scheduled. Even though it sucked when a good show gets cancelled, at least they would let us know of the cancellation a few seconds prior to the new program beginning.
I remember how disappointed I was in 1990 when WNYW-5 in NYC cancelled "Diff'rent Strokes" and replaced it with the then *new* Montel Williams Show at 5pm weekdays... but just before they aired Montel Williams we were greeted with the typical cancelletion announcement.
I have accepted that it will never be the way it was before, and I find comfort in watching my old video/dvd collections... so all isn't lost, which was why I created Videomercials to show people how far television has fallen since the glory days. Thanks for reading.