Top 10 Controversial Scripted TV Shows
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Top 10 Controversial Scripted TV Shows

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Connor Ludovice.

Sometimes, TV can be a great source of entertainment for all, but sometimes, some shows will push their idea of fun to a new level and cross the line from harmless entertainment to content that may not be appropriate or acceptable to everyone. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 most controversial scripted TV shows.

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Top 10 Controversial Scripted TV Shows

Sometimes, TV can be a great source of entertainment for all, but sometimes, some shows will push their idea of fun to a new level and cross the line from harmless entertainment to content that may not be appropriate or acceptable to everyone. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most controversial scripted TV shows.

For this list, we’ve picked scripted shows that pushed the envelope of what could be shown on TVand did things other shows didn’t really do at the time. Since this is a list about controversial TVshows, there will be some graphic and suggestive themes and imagery so viewer discretion is advised. We’re excluding reality shows as that’s a list for another day.

#10: “The Ren & Stimpy Show” (1991-95)

“Beavis & Butthead,” “South Park,” and “Spongebob Squarepants” are just a few cartoons that might not have ever happened if not for “Ren & Stimpy” and their wacky adventures. With its crude language, scenes of violence, and bizarre jokes tackling all sorts of provocative subjects, this animated TV series straddled the line of what cartoons could do. It was heavily censored at times and even removed from certain channels. Both bizarre and controversial, this Chihuahua and cat certainly knew how to push boundaries and teach our grandmas how to suck eggs.

#9: “Oz” (1997-2003)

Telling the story of prison inmates’ survival in the titular penitentiary’s experimental hellhole unit Emerald City, “Oz” is filled from prison bar to prison bar with controversies. Drugs, racism, homosexuality and male rape were only a few of the subjects that made this HBO drama such a divisive series. And with countless scenes of intense violence that left viewers emotionally scarred, the inmates of Oz have rightfully earned their spot on this list.

#8: “Saturday Night Live” (1975-)

This long-running late night variety series has remained relevant and successful for 4 decades because it hasn’t been afraid to push the envelope when it comes to its content. Whether parodying current events, ranging from politics to pop culture, or swaying their celebrity guest hosts to let go of their fears of offending others and urging cast members to fully commit to their characters, this Lorne Michaels creation remains a Saturday night TV staple. While it might be at its most controversial when unscripted – like the adlibs by cast members, guests or musical performers during the live broadcast – there’s no denying that “SNL” as a whole is a worthy entry here.

#7: “Chappelle’s Show” (2003-06)

Arguably one of Comedy Central’s most famous series, this sketch comedy show always seemed to land comedian Dave Chappelle in hot water when it was on the air. “Chappelle’s Show” mostly dealt in jokes involving African-American stereotypes as well as countless other ethnic, religious and social groups. Yes, from crack-addicted junkies to black white supremacists, “Chappelle’s Show” and controversy seemed made for each other.

#6: “Skins” (2007-13)

Here’s some controversy for you all the way from jolly old England. “Skins” followed the lives of several teenagers that each had their own unique problems to deal with, including dysfunctional families, substance abuse, bipolar and eating disorders, teenage sex and more. As viewers watched the teens battle their demons, people became more and more uncomfortable with what they were seeing. As such, the controversy surrounding the drama grew. At times brutally realistic, while others extremely dramatic, this British programme crawled under many a skin and will likely lay there forever.

#5: “Beavis and Butt-head” (1993-97; 2011)

Their laughs and physical appearance are as famous as they are controversial; they’re everyone’s favorite delinquent teens Beavis and Butt-head. This animated sitcom followed the two titular characters doing basically whatever they wanted, which included lighting things on fire, dropping bowling balls from roofs and talking about putting fire crackers up a cat’s butt - all of which were replicated in real life. Since such behavior allegedly led to casualties, it also garnered the show much criticism, with Beavis and Butthead’s idiotic humor being accused of poisoning the minds of younger viewers. So yes, they certainly were controversial, but knowing Beavis and Butt-head, they’d probably think that was hu-hu cool.

#4: “Queer as Folk” (1999-2000)

Today, having homosexual characters on television isn’t too big of a deal for most, but back in 1999 the UK’s “Queer as Folk” really had people talking. The TV series followed the day-to-day lives of men who were openly gay - and needless to say, it raised much discussion and reproach specifically from religious groups. As groundbreaking as it was controversial, “Queer as Folk” will go down as one of the most controversial shows of the time, with its North American counterpart on Showtime also garnering its share of outrage.

#3: “Heil Honey I’m Home!” (1990)

“The world’s most tasteless situation comedy” is only one way this British sitcom was described. “Heil Honey I’m Home!” was a series in which Adolf Hitler tried living a normal life while residing next door to a Jewish couple and dealing with his inability to get along with them. Seriously, do we even need to speak more on why this show was controversial? It was cancelled after just one episode and it’s not surprising that most people would like to forget about it.

#2: “Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos” (1992)

Before YouTube, before social media and before “Tosh.O,” “Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos” disgusted viewers everywhere with its video content. While not entirely scripted, the fact that it consisted of subjects involving animal and human intercourse, featured enough nudity to fill a library of porno and was so inappropriate it didn’t even finish airing its first episode, lands it a spot on our list. That’s right: TV networks shut it down before the program ended, after Nine Network manager Kerry Packer famously shouted “Get that shit off the air!” when he realized what was being shown to viewers. If getting the axe partway through your first episode isn’t controversial, then we don’t know what is. Oh, let’s not forget that many of the staff members involved with this one-off special spin-off of “Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show” were unsurprisingly fired.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)
- “Soap” (1977-81)
- “Dexter” (2006-13)
- “24” (2001-10; 2014)
- “Turn-On” (1969)
- “Black Mirror” (2011-)

#1: “South Park” (1997-)

Abortion, racism, and discrimination just scratch the surface of the controversies that plague “South Park.” Since 1997, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and the vast array of characters in this Colorado town have absolutely destroyed the boundaries of what can be shown on TV. “South Park” has made a career out of taking some of the most contentious issues and poking fun at them. And the show seems to show no sign of stopping, or wanting to, despite receiving threats from radical religious groups and other organizations. With disregard for anything and everything – except, of course, comedy – “South Park” is truly the king of controversial television.

Do you agree with our list? What other nasty and naughty shows are your favorite? For morecontroversial top 10 lists published every day, be sure to subscribe to