times change | 

Moments from fan favourite TV shows that have not aged well

Some of the small screen’s biggest hits haven’t aged well in the decades since.
A controversial scene from Little Britain

A controversial scene from Little Britain

Victoria Beckham gets on a weighing scales on live TV

Victoria Beckham gets on a weighing scales on live TV

Men behaving Badly

Men behaving Badly

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

The cast of Seinfeld

The cast of Seinfeld

Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentleman

Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentleman

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

The cast of Seinfeld

The cast of Seinfeld

Men behaving badly

Men behaving badly

The cast of Friends

The cast of Friends

Sunday World

They were the TV smashes of their time, the groundbreaking shows that captured audience attention and broke viewing records.

But times change and let’s just say some of the small screen’s biggest hits haven’t aged well in the decades since.

The discomfort with classic shows is amplified when modern and younger audiences find the episodes older generations loved and cringe at their set ups and punchlines.

It happened again just this week when Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice called out the makers of former telly hit TGI Friday for having her weigh herself live on the show.

Regarded in the 1990s as cutting-edge TV, some elements of the Chris Evans-hosted show now come across as cringy.

Posh Spice has called out the show in which presenter Chris Evans got her to weigh herself on live TV back in the 90s. The embarrassing incident, which would be widely criticised now, involved Victoria being weighed shortly after giving birth to Brooklyn, her first child with hubby David Beckham.

Victoria Beckham gets on a weighing scales on live TV

Victoria Beckham gets on a weighing scales on live TV

Evans questioned Victoria about being in good shape two months after giving birth, then asked her: “Can I check, do you mind?” before getting her to step on weighing scales and adding: “Eight stone’s not bad at all, is it?”

Speaking in a new interview with Vogue Australia, Victoria recalls the incident: “I went on a TV show with Chris Evans many years ago and I'd just had Brooklyn and lost a lot of weight after.

“It happened to my mum after her pregnancies. It doesn't mean you have an eating disorder. And he made me stand on the scales to be weighed. Can you imagine doing that nowadays?”

There have been many other examples of TV shows not ageing well - or even being pulled from schedules altogether.

In 2020, British comedy The League of Gentleman was pulled from Netflix for featuring a character in blackface. The character, wearing black make-up and called Papa Lazarou, featured in a number of episodes of the show which originally aired from 1999 to 2002.

Reece Shearsmith, who played the character, has since denied he was supposed to be a black man.

Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentleman

Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentleman

Another hit British comedy, Little Britain, was removed from BBC Iplayer and Netflicks following concerns about the use of blackface by two of its stars, David Walliams and Matt Lucas. “There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review,” said a spokesperson at the time. “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”

Lucas, in a 2017 interview with The Big Issue, said he new felt it was “lazy” to “get a laugh just by playing black characters”.

“Basically, I wouldn’t make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.”

When all the past episodes of Friends were released to stream, younger fans who were watching the series for the first time called out several examples of misogyny and storylines that haven’t aged well.

The cast of Friends

The cast of Friends

Among these were a running gag where Chandler is fixated with finding out why people think he’s gay, and jokes involving his father, who is a drag artist.

Other storylines that have faced criticism include when Monica is fat-shamed and teased for being overweight as a teenager. Not to mention Joey’s ‘how you doin’ with the ladies he meets, once regarded as a hilarious punchline but now seen as a tad creepy. The early episodes which joke about Ross’s ex-wife being a lesbian have also been widely criticised.

Men behaving badly

Men behaving badly

Men Behaving Badly, as the title suggests, has not aged well.

The 1990s show that celebrated Britain’s so-called ‘lad culture’ starred Neil Morrissey and Martin Clunes as well as Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin.

Morrissey has floated the idea of revisiting the show but even he feels it wouldn’t get made today. “I guess Leslie was objectified a bit by my character. But that was the point of it – that we were really rubbish, and they were really cool and smart,” he said.

“We were a couple of misogynist idiots who couldn’t keep a job, let alone a girlfriend.”

When Baywatch first came to our screens in the late 1980s, the glamorous series about a group of Californian lifeguards quickly became a global hit. But even then, the slow-motion, close-up scenes of female lifeguards running in tight swimsuits seemed off and were frequently lampooned. In modern times, the series has been criticised for objectifying its female stars.

Once regarded as one of the smarter comedy series, even Seinfeld doesn’t escape unscathed. In one particularly cringy episode, Jerry’s girlfriend had a collection of vintage toys that she would let him near.

The cast of Seinfeld

The cast of Seinfeld

So he drugged her with sleep medication so that he could play with them while she slept on the sofa. If it happened in a show today there would be uproar.

Sex & the City aimed to be cutting edge and progressive in its depiction of modern women and the dating game, and often succeeded. But it also handled some topics in a way that would be frowned upon today. Not least is the depiction of Mr Big - an emotionally unavailable man who regularly lets Carrie down - as The One.

Sex and the City

Sex and the City

Even one of the most beloved comedies ever doesn’t escape unscathed. Cheers - set in the bar where everybody knows your name - was hailed as one of TV’s greatest for the perfect comic timing of its stars. But many younger viewers who came to the series decades later now call out Sam for his sexism and toxic behaviour towards Diane.


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