Top 10 TV Shows We Shouldn't Have Watched as Kids
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Sammie Purcell
Wow, we should NOT have been watching these shows as kids. For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable television series from our youth with the inappropriate jokes that went right over our heads, as well as shows that still give us nightmares to this day. Our countdown includes "Jackass," "Family Guy," "The X-Files," and more!
Top 10 TV sHows We Shouldn't Have Been Watching as Kids
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Shows We Shouldn’t Have Been Watching as Kids.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most notable television series from our youth with the inappropriate jokes that went right over our heads, as well as shows that still give us nightmares to this day.
Which of these series traumatized you growing up? Let us know in the comments!
#10: “Jerry Springer” (1991-2018)
Say it with us, now: “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” If you don’t remember chanting Jerry Springer’s name along with the studio audience as a child, you had a much more wholesome upbringing than we did. His talk show was the definition of trash TV, always ripe for fights, parent reveals, and other drama. But America just couldn't get enough. This isn’t one of those kids shows that we later realized was disguising some pretty dirty jokes. Oh no – this is just one of those shows that your mom had on, which meant you had to watch too. And it never tried to hide its lewdness. Seriously, Springer coming down a stripper pole is an image we’ll never forget.
#9: “Beavis and Butt-Head” (1993-)
With their iconic voices and even more iconic laughs, Beavis and Butt-Head were a staple in the household of any ‘90s kid. But while their dumb humor often made us laugh, a lot of this show went right over our heads. “Beavis and Butt-Head” followed the antics of two teenagers who didn’t care about anything but themselves and rock 'n' roll. Yet behind all that adolescent indifference, the writers were hiding some pretty clever social commentary. Still, as kids, did we care about or even understand what “Beavis and Butt-Head” had to say about society? Did we care that watching the show was like looking into a mirror? Absolutely not; we just wanted some laughs!
#8: “The X-Files” (1993-2002; 2016-18)
If you’ve grown up believing in conspiracy theories, distrusting the government, and also believing that aliens definitely exist, you can thank “The X-Files.” This beloved ‘90s pop culture staple taught a generation of kids to question everything – but we were all too young to be watching it in the first place. We definitely didn’t understand the high level of espionage and cover ups that were happening at the time! But watching Mulder and Scully solve mysteries was still the highlight of most of our weeks. And if there’s one thing we did understand, it’s that they were the epitome of true love.
#7: “Jackass” (2000-01)
Ah, it’s the true meaning of friendship – performing death-defying stunts together! Names like Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Wee Man will forever mean the world to those of us who grew up in the early 2000s. But just because we’ve come to love these wild guys and their exploits, that doesn’t mean watching “Jackass” was the best thing we could’ve done for our young minds. No matter how many times the show warned us that these pranks were best not tried at home, a brave few among us couldn’t be stopped. After a few broken bones – and a few severely crushed egos – we’ve all (hopefully) learned to leave it to the professionals.
#6: “Rocko’s Modern Life” (1993-96)
Back in the early ‘90s, Nickelodeon had a real thing for quirky animated shows about animals, chock-full of dirty jokes no kid could ever understand. We almost went with “The Ren & Stimpy Show” to highlight this very specific genre. But we’ve got another little creature in mind. “Rocko’s Modern Life” has become notorious for being one of the most inappropriate kids shows to ever grace our screens. It did feature some smart social satire, but for the most part, low hanging fruit is what it chose to shoot for. With sexual jokes out the wazoo, there’s no way we should have been watching this show as young as we were.
#5: “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)
A lot of the cartoons we watched growing up might have been inappropriate, but at least they were marketed towards children. “Family Guy,” on the other hand, is decidedly adult. Now, some of us probably came to this animated show in our later childhood years, but that doesn’t mean we were old enough to completely get it. Yet watching “Family Guy” as a young preteen was almost like a rite of passage. Still, we didn’t grasp the critique of American culture that’s taking place, or most of the more meta jokes that Brian and Stewie are making. Thankfully, it taught us to look for that kind of searing commentary later on — and it’s pretty funny, too.
#4: “Unsolved Mysteries” (1987-99; 2001-02; 2007-10; 2020-)
While it might feel like we’ve been experiencing a true crime popularity bump for the past few years, any ‘80s or ‘90s kid can tell you that we’ve had that fever for much longer. “Unsolved Mysteries” started in 1987, and though it’s aired in fits and starts over the years, it still manages to freak kids out. The show is responsible for turning a generation of children into aspiring private eyes. It’s also definitely the reason so many of us can churn out facts about random cold cases from 50 years ago. While we have fond memories of “Unsolved Mysteries,” we can admit that the show was far too realistic and brutal for our young psyches to handle.
#3: “Tales from the Crypt” (1989-96)
The horror genre feels like something you would — or should — want to stray away from as a kid. Yet there sure were a lot of scary series that we ended up watching back in the day. Some of us enjoyed reading “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” or watching and reading “Goosebumps.” But the least kid-friendly option was the delightfully spooky “Tales from the Crypt.” Hosted by the always freaky Cryptkeeper, this horror anthology dove into every terror under the sun. And by virtue of airing on HBO, it didn’t face the same restrictions that some of the genre’s other series did. Whether it be violence, nudity, or curse words, we saw it all years before we should’ve on “Tales from the Crypt.”
#2: “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (1990-96; 1999-2000; 2019-)
When you were little, what were the sounds that went bump in the night that made you scared to get out of bed? What are the stories that still haunt you to this day? Well, we bet that a majority of those tales come from “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” This Nickelodeon horror series doesn’t have quite the leeway that something like “Tales from the Crypt” did, but that almost makes it scarier. It had to be innovative in the ways that it chose to scare us – and boy, did it SCARE us. The show is centered around a group of kids who tell the audience different terrifying stories every week. Between episodes, we’d just have nightmare after nightmare about what went down!
#1: “South Park” (1997-)
This animated show encompasses so much of what we’ve discussed throughout this list. Are there dirty jokes? Is it high concept material? You can check yes on each of those boxes, because “South Park” has it all. For most of us, watching this series introduced us to satire and humor in a way we hadn’t seen before. Much like “Family Guy,” we started watching way before we actually understood what was going on. By the same token, we couldn’t appreciate the social commentary, caricature, irony, and all sorts of other devices that are baked into each episode. It’s only when you revisit it in later years that you appreciate everything it’s doing. It’s no wonder the show is still so popular.