Bizarre, Shocking and Outrageously Funny – 10 Controversial TV Comedies

  • June 02, 2010
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Love Thy Neighbour

Race relations were the target of this politically incorrect 1970s ITV comedy. Rivalry between neighbours is a theme that has been picked up by countless comedies over the years, but when one of the neighbours is an outspoken racist and the other is an Afro-Caribbean migrant, the “over the hedge name-calling” suddenly becomes much more offensive. The list of hateful racist slurs used in the program is simply too long and too shameful to repeat. But don't go thinking that the abuse was one sided; the show's black character, Bill, gave as good as he got, making it clear that “Love Thy Neighbour” did not have a racist agenda but instead aimed to make fun of racism by showing it's futility and downright stupidity.

Despite being hugely controversial, “Love Thy Neighbour” was extremely popular. It ran for five years and spawned a movie of the same name.


Till Death Us Do Part

Patriotic bigot Alf Garnett took the lead role in this uniquely English comedy. At a time when the UK had only two television channels, half of the country regularly tuned in to hear his controversial rants about race, immigration and socialism (the half that had television sets that is). “Till Death Us Do Part” ran from 1965 to 1975 and from 1985 to 1992 under the new title “In Sickness And In Health.” It is now remembered as one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. If it hadn’t have come first, one might be tempted to refer to it as the British version of this next show...


All In The Family


This Emmy Award-winning American sitcom was heavily based on the British comedy "Till Death Us Do Part", with the lead character Archie Bunker taking many of his character traits from his English counterpart, Alf Garnet. The show broke ground by approaching issues previously thought unsuitable for a U.S. TV comedy, including homosexuality, racism and women's liberation. It ran from 1971 to 1979 and then for an additional four years under the new title "Archie Bunker's Place".


Monkey Dust

This dark and depressing animated sketch show was first broadcast in the UK in 2003 but failed to gain widespread recognition due to its late-night slot on the then new BBC3 channel. Had a wider audience seen the show, they would doubtlessly have been appalled by its handling of controversial subjects such as murder, suicide and paedophilia. Three series of the show were made but only one has been released on DVD, suggesting that the BBC may be embarrassed at just how far they were willing to go to capture the attention of younger audiences. They shouldn't be; the show might be right on the edge of what is funny but it is atmosphere of shame and solitude is almost beautiful.


South Park


Created for the U.S television network Comedy Central by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park has been on our screens for over a decade despite many public outcries about its content. The show has been steeped in controversy since it first aired back in 1997, helping it to become an overnight success and one of the most famous cartoons in history. Because the show is animated, many critics wrongly believed that it was aimed at children and feared that it would poison an entire generation with its foul language and liberal viewpoints. However, you only have to watch the show to see it for what it is – a platform for elegant satire shrouded in a cloak of crude toilet humour and numerous layers of irony.

The show centres around a group of children in the eternally snowbound town of South Park, Colorado, in particular Eric Cartman and best friends Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski. A fourth friend, Kenny McCormick, also appears in many episodes, famously being killed many times over only to return the next week. As well as temporary-Kenny-replacement Butter Stotch, many other South Park residents have found their way into the limelight, becoming almost as iconic as the supporting cast of the Simpsons, such as Mr Garrison, the children's trans-gender schoolteacher.

Most famous and controversial of all the shows characters, however, is big boned Eric Cartman who at the tender age of nine had already plotted to exterminate the Jewish people, foiled a British invasion of America, entered the Special Olympics under false pretences, injected his friend Kyle with AIDS and eaten his own underpants.

Throughout its fourteen seasons (at the time this article was written), South Park has covered an endless array of controversial issues including abortion, stem cell research, sexuality, gender reassignment, racial inequality and the possibility of placing a nuclear device inside Hillary Clinton's sniz.

Eric Cartman is the best example for controversial. Written by Mark Ball – Copyrighted © Image Sources

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