WBEZ | Seinfeld http://www.wbez.org/tags/seinfeld Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The 10 most controversial TV episodes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/10-most-controversial-tv-episodes-108657 <p><p><img a="" alt="" and="" before="" breaking="" class="image-original_image" creator="" dunham="" episode="" episodes="" from="" girls="" gone="" has="" href="http://screenrant.com/breaking-bad-ending-finale-interview-vince-gilligan/" in="" internet="" left="" lena="" little="" nuts="" one="" only="" over="" patrick="" s="" so.="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/One Man's Trash .jpg" star="" still="" target="_blank" the="" title=" &quot;Girls&quot; star Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson in a scene from the episode &quot;One Man's Trash.&quot; (Girls/HBO)" two="" understandably="" vince="" wilson="" with="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>The Internet is going a little nuts over the ending of &quot;Breaking Bad,&quot; and understandably so. With only three episodes left until creator Vince Gilligan&#39;s avowedly <a href="http://screenrant.com/breaking-bad-ending-finale-interview-vince-gilligan/" target="_blank">polarizing</a> finale,&nbsp;each new plot twist is more shocking and sensational than the one before. Plus, a Saul Goodman&nbsp;<a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/09/11/breaking-bad-spinoff-better-call-saul/">spin-off</a>&nbsp;starring Bob Odenkirk is already in the works: another AMC series&nbsp;destined to continue pushing the boundaries of cable TV to a) new levels of borderline hysteria or b) serial drama fatigue.</p><p>Hot button television is nothing new; but oh, how times have changed. For example, the intense shock and dismay stirred up by the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78juOpTM3tE" target="_blank">Red Wedding</a>&nbsp;massacre on &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;&nbsp;makes the once-scandalous aspects of much older shows, like Lucy being (gasp!) pregnant on &quot;I Love Lucy&quot; or the Brady parents sharing a bed on &quot;The Brady Bunch,&quot; seem adorably quaint by comparison.&nbsp;</p><p>But beyond the provocative themes that have persisted throughout many a series&#39; run, from the foul mouth of &quot;All in the Family&quot; patriarch Archie Bunker to the perpetual <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/celebritology/2010/04/the_10_freakiest_moments_in_tw_1.html" target="_blank">weirdness</a> of &quot;Twin Peaks,&quot; certain landmark episodes have also served as cultural powder kegs for audience uproar and debate.&nbsp;</p><p>So, which episodes reign as the most controversial to date? Here are&nbsp;my top 10:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Girls, &quot;One Man&#39;s Trash&quot;</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p>What&#39;s so controversial about this episode is why audiences found it controversial in the first place. Lena Dunham&#39;s character Hannah has a steamy dalliance with a rich, hunky stranger played by Patrick Wilson. Many viewers cited the impossibility of such an affair, saying that a man who looks like Wilson would never be attracted to an average-looking <a href="http://jezebel.com/5983437/what-kind-of-guy-does-a-girl-who-looks-like-lena-dunham-deserve" target="_blank">schlub</a>&nbsp;like Dunham. Many critics concluded that the episode must have been a <a href="http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/girls-season-2-episode-5-recap" target="_blank">dream</a>; because seriously, how could that ever happen? Insert massive eye roll here.</p><p>Thankfully, countless other viewers and critics jumped in to clarify that yes, a handsome man can still be attracted to a woman who doesn&#39;t look like a supermodel. Also, naked ping pong is okay.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;On All Fours,&quot; the episode in which Adam&#39;s shocking, agressive sex with new flame Natalia looked a lot like <a href="http://hbowatch.com/on-all-fours-did-we-witness-a-rape-on-sundays-episode-of-girls/" target="_blank">rape</a>.</p><p><strong>9. Seinfeld, &quot;The Puerto Rican Day&quot;</strong></p><p>In this Season 9 episode, the &quot;Seinfeld&quot; group become stuck in traffic among the celebrants of a Puerto Rican Day Parade. Kramer accidently sets the Puerto Rican flag on fire with a sparkler and then stomps on it to quell the blaze, inciting an attack from the Puerto Rican mob that leads to Jerry&#39;s car being thrown down a stairwell.</p><p>Obviously, the National Puerto Rican Coaliton was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puerto_Rican_Day" target="_blank">not pleased</a> with this representation. NBC apologized; and until 2002, the episode was excluded from syndication packages to other networks.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;The Contest,&quot; the episode in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer make a bet to determine who can hold out the longest as the&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_contest" target="_blank">master of their domains</a>.</p><p><strong>8. The Simpsons, &quot;The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson&quot;</strong></p><p>Since <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_vs_Homer_Simpson" target="_blank">shenanigans</a> in and around the World Trade Center featured heavily in the plot of this episode, it was removed from syndication following the September 11 attacks. By 2006, the episode come back to syndication in some areas, but with many parts edited out.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Blame it On Lisa,&quot; in which Lisa Simpson stumbled upon some rat-infested Brazilian slums &quot;painted bright colors...so the tourists would not be offended.&quot; Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2002/apr/09/broadcasting.internationalnews" target="_blank">spoke out</a> against the show for portraying &quot;a distorted vision of Brazilian reality.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. Married with Children, &quot;I&#39;ll See You in Court&quot;</strong></p><p>Due to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'll_See_You_in_Court" target="_blank">sex tape plot</a> orchestrated by the already controversial Bundy family, this episode was pulled by the censors and prevented from being aired for over a decade. Showrunner Michael Moye has since claimed that producers dubbed it &quot;The Lost Episode,&quot; both because it never aired and because they felt that they had lost control of the project.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Her Cups Runneth Over,&quot; another highly sexual episode of &quot;Married with Children&quot; that prompted Michigan woman <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Rakolta" target="_blank">Terry Rakolta</a> to launch a letter-writing campaign urging audiences to boycott the show.</p><p><strong>6. The X Files, &quot;Home&quot;</strong></p><p>While &quot;The X Files&quot; has never shied away from creepy subject matter, this 1996 episode was by far the most horrific. Brief summary: a quadruple amputee mother is caught breeding with her disfigured sons, thereby creating more <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiMq8e2RJA4" target="_blank">montrously disfigured</a> children.</p><p>&quot;Home&quot; was yanked after its initial airing to its graphic nature, making it the only &quot;X Files&quot; episode to be banned from repetition on Fox.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Irresistible,&quot; one of the few &quot;X Files&quot; episodes to feature a human <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irresistible_(The_X-Files)" target="_blank">serial killer</a> (played by Donald Pfaster) instead of a supernatural entity.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. South Park, &quot;Trapped in the Closet&quot;</strong></p><p>In 2006, Comedy Central&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapped_in_the_Closet_(South_Park)" target="_blank">canceled</a> the rebroadcast of this episode without prior notice, allegedly because parent company Viacom was being faced with threats from Tom Cruise to boycott publicity for <em>Mission Impossible III.</em>&nbsp;Rumor has it that Cruise, who also reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://freespeechdebate.com/en/case/tom-cruise-sues-south-park/" target="_blank">threatened to sue</a> &quot;South Park&quot; for besmirching his action star image, did not find a gay cartoon version of himself &quot;trapped in the closet&quot; to be particularly amusing.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mentions: &quot;Jared Has Aides,&quot;a 2002 episode later&nbsp;<a href="http://tv.msn.com/tv/episode/south-park/jared-has-aides.1/" target="_blank">banned</a> by Comedy Central. Ironically, this decision was made not because of the AIDS-related material, but due to the portrayal of Butters being abused by his parents.</p><p><strong>4. The Sopranos, &quot;Made in America&quot;</strong></p><p>The anti-climactic fadeout of &quot;The Sopranos&quot; series finale left the majority of diehard fans feeling <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_in_America_(The_Sopranos)" target="_blank">very upset</a>. However, retrospective reviews of the episode have been mostly positive&mdash;likely fueled by the lengthy media discussions that immediately followed the broadcast and caused many viewers to change their interpretations of the ending.</p><p>Honorable Mentions: The much-maligned season finales of &quot;Lost,&quot; &quot;Roseanne&quot; and &quot;Gossip Girl&quot; (Dan Humphrey was GG all along? <a href="http://www.wetpaint.com/gossip-girl/articles/5-reasons-were-mad-that-dan-humphrey-is-gossip-girl" target="_blank">As if</a>.)&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, &quot;Earshot&quot;</strong></p><p>A school shooting on a popular teen drama is a hard sell at any time, but especially in the wake of a real-life tragedy. Such was the case with the infamous &quot;Buffy&quot; episode about a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earshot_(Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer)" target="_blank">high school gunman</a>: originally scheduled to air one week after the shooting at Columbine High School had taken place. &quot;Earshot&quot; did not appear on American television until five months later, but viewers&#39; emotions were still rubbed raw.&nbsp;</p><p>Honorable Mention: &quot;Glee&quot; airing its <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_Star_(Glee)" target="_blank">&quot;Shooting Star&quot;</a> episode just four months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and receiving a hailstorm of backlash as a result.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Maude, &quot;Maude&#39;s Dilemma&quot;</strong></p><p>&quot;Maude&quot; was a revolutionary sitcom that continually broke new ground in the 1970s, but one episode stands out above the rest. In this iconic two-parter, which originally aired in November 1972, the titular character (played by Bea Arthur) is dismayed to find herself pregnant at 47 and decides to have an abortion.</p><p>Roe v. Wade made abortions legal nationwide <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v_wade" target="_blank">two months later</a>; but members of the clergy still reacted to strongly to &quot;Maude&#39;s Dilemma&quot; being re-run in 1973, and at least 30 stations&nbsp;<a href="http://news.google.co.uk/newspapers?id=AUsNAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=Dm0DAAAAIBAJ&amp;dq=maude%20abortion&amp;pg=3411%2C2835386" target="_blank">pre-empted</a> the episode.</p><p>Honorable Mention: A controversial <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidents_Will_Happen_(Degrassi:_The_Next_Generation)" target="_blank">teen abortion</a> arc on the Canadian soap &quot;Degrassi&quot; also kept the 2004 episode &quot;Accidents Will Happen,&quot; from airing in the United States for many years.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Ellen, &quot;The Puppy Episode&quot;</strong></p><p>This unforgettable two-part episode of Ellen Degeneres&#39; late &#39;90s sitcom, in which both she and her character Ellen Morgan&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Puppy_Episode" target="_blank">came out as gay</a>, caused such a furor upon its initial airing that ABC had to issue a &quot;Parental Advisory&quot; at the top of each new episode. The series was cancelled one season later, and both Degeneres and co-star Laura Dern faced career backlash for years afterward. Oprah, who played the small role of Ellen&#39;s therapist in the episode, later said that she received <a href="http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2012/08/oprah-winfrey-ellen-degeneres-coming-out-backlash/" target="_blank">death threats</a>.</p><p>Today, &quot;The Puppy Episode&quot; is <a href="http://www.emmytvlegends.org/blog/?p=5903" target="_blank">widely regarded</a> as one of the most important and influential broadcasts in scripted television history. Degeneres&#39; career has recovered <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW5jDoD_IYw" target="_blank">quite nicely</a> as well.&nbsp;</p><p>Which episodes would you add to this list?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/10-most-controversial-tv-episodes-108657 Is 'The Wire' really the greatest TV show of all time? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/wire-really-greatest-tv-show-all-time-108018 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TheWire.jpg" style="height: 387px; width: 600px; " title="A still from the groundbreaking HBO series 'The Wire.' (The Wire/HBO)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">A stark, low-budget drama that <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2008-03-05-the-wire_N.htm?csp=34&amp;loc=interstitialskip" target="_blank">hardly anyone watched</a> during its five-year run has been named <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/07/01/the-wire-lawrence-gilliard-chad-coleman/" target="_blank">the greatest TV show of all time</a>&nbsp;by Entertainment Weekly. Other publications such as Time, Vulture, Slate, Complex and Newsweek also have cited <em>The Wire</em>&nbsp;as the best show in American television history, both before and after the HBO series went off the air in 2008.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Responses to EW&#39;s most recent announcement have been mostly <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20712079_20711820,00.html#21351457" target="_blank">positive,</a> which got me thinking&mdash;how did a series like&nbsp;<em>The Wire</em>&nbsp;become the default answer to queries about &quot;the best show ever&quot; and why does it still resonate so strongly with televison audiences today?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Of course, the reasons that <em>The Wire</em>&nbsp;deserves to be credited as one of the best shows ever (if not <em>the </em>best) could wrap around multiple <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/poverty-in-baltimore-2013-4?op=1" target="_blank">Baltimore</a> city blocks. Created by former police reporter and newspaperman David Simon, the 60-episode series&nbsp;crackled with surprising realism and seared with a social urgency that most audiences had never been exposed to on scripted television before.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Each of the show&#39;s five seasons focused on a different facet of Baltimore city life&mdash;the drug trade, the seaport system, city government and bureacracy, the school system and news print media&mdash;with mostly no-name character actors playing cops, drug lords and corrupt politicians out for blood. The sociopolitical issues were so raw, and the stories so real, that<em> The Wire </em>often felt like a&nbsp;documentary; a mirror reflecting back onto America what we needed to see.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Perhaps for the same reason that the Harper High School episodes of <em>This American Life</em>&nbsp;resonated so strongly with listeners, <em>The Wire</em>&nbsp;was so culturally important at the time (and, with the exception of a<a href="http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/34511/what-happened-to-our-show" target="_blank">&nbsp;misguided final season</a>, flawlessly executed) that it changed the landscape of its medium&mdash;in this case, television&mdash;forever.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Still, I maintain that plenty of other shows have been just as influential in taking TV to new heights, while also leaving lasting impressions upon their audiences and society as a whole.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Other #1 options to consider:&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em><strong>The Sopranos</strong></em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Although critics may consider it redudant to say that both <a href="http://www.empireonline.com/500/99.asp" target="_blank">the greatest movie</a> and the greatest TV show of all time are about mobsters, I wholeheartedly disagree. If you haven&#39;t seen this exceptional HBO drama about an Italian-American crime family, led by anti-hero patriarch Tony Soprano (the late, great James Gandolfini), I suggest that you start now.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em><strong>Seinfeld</strong></em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;A show about nothing&quot; that changed <a href="http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2012/09/the-25-best-episodes-of-seinfeld.html" target="_blank">everything</a>. In my opinion, the pitch-perfect quartet of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer (in addition to the terrific writing from mastermind Larry David) will remain the pinnacle of comedic greatness for the rest of time.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em><strong>Breaking Bad</strong></em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Like <em>The Wire</em>, this groundbreaking AMC drama also exposes the dark and seedy&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2012/07/case-breaking-bad-televisions-best-show/54565/" target="_blank">underbelly of American life</a>: shocking, grotesque, cinematic and brilliant in equal measure. Stunning, career-high performances from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the world&#39;s most empathetic meth connoisseurs are just icing on the cake.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em><strong>I Love Lucy</strong></em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Iconic&quot; doesn&#39;t even begin to describe this beloved sitcom in terms of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/10/15/enduring-appeal-love-lucy-proves-television-is-no-wasteland/" target="_blank">cultural impact</a>, not to mention sheer hilarity. More than 60 years after it premiered on network television,<em> Lucy&nbsp;</em>still makes me laugh out loud:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/A3w4ps14_IU" width="420"></iframe></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Do you believe that&nbsp;<em>The Wire&nbsp;</em>deserves the top spot? If not, which show would you choose?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer for WBEZ and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2&amp;ign-mpt=uo%3D2" target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/wire-really-greatest-tv-show-all-time-108018 The New Birthday Song http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-09-08/new-birthday-song-91665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/george costanza.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This weekend my husband and I went out with my friend Sarah to celebrate her husband Keith’s birthday. Naturally, when the cake was brought out, we all felt that inevitable inclination to sing.<br> <br> Starting the “Happy Birthday” song is one of the most awkward and tedious social conventions there is. Nobody really enjoys singing “Happy Birthday,” yet we all feel like we have to do it. There’s something about that first note, that labored “Haaaaa” that makes it feel like a dirgelike obligation.<br> <br> Fortunately, however, Sarah and I remembered something. We don’t sing “Happy Birthday” on people’s birthdays. We sing the theme to <em>Greatest American Hero</em>.<br> <br> I’m not sure how we made this discovery about how the GAH theme is superior to the “Happy Birthday” song. I think we were just talking about how great the song is, were joking about how it should be everyone’s theme and realized it makes a fantastic birthday song. As opposed to the dragging tedium of the “Happy Birthday” song, the GAH theme is uplifting, with a sense of wonder. You--yes you!--have a birthday! Who could believe it? We’re going to celebrate! Plus, it’s much easier and much more fun to sing:</p><p><br> <iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/e9Q3orQhEcA" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p><p>Now, I know we’re not exactly the first people to co-opt the GAH theme song for other purposes, so let me pay diligence where it’s due:</p><p><br> <iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/yg-TqEFYcfM" width="560" frameborder="0" height="345"></iframe><br> <br> But why should George Costanza have all the fun? Next time you’re at a birthday party and feel yourself drawing in that horrible breath to begin “Happy Birthday,” try something like this on for size instead:<br> <br> Believe it or not,<br> Claire’s walking on air.<br> She never thought she could feel so free eee eee.<br> Flying away on a wing and a prayer.<br> Who could it be?<br> Believe it or not it's just Claire.<br> <br> (Actually it’s even better if you can somehow have your name modified so that it rhymes with “be,” so the last line should be something like “Believe it or not it’s C.Z.” or “Believe it or not it’s Claire Z.”)<br> <br> I’m positive that this will result in many a better birthday celebration, and probably make people start looking forward to turning a year older, as opposed to dreading the inevitable march towards the grave.</p><p>You're welcome.</p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 14:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-09-08/new-birthday-song-91665