TV Shows That Were Ahead of Their Time
- Next1 of 10Rhoda: CBS/Photofest
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- Previous Next4 of 10That Girl: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images
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- Previous Next8 of 10Rhoda: CBS/Photofest
- Previous Next9 of 10Who’s the Boss: ABC/Photofest
- Previous Next10 of 10Murphy Brown: CBS/Photofest
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Totally Tubular1 of 10
By Denise Wolfe
Long before cable networks, unscripted shows and Breaking Bad, television was decidedly conservative. But over the years, some of our favorite series have helped challenge TV's traditional norms. While these nine story-lines and scenarios may seem tame now, they were groundbreaking in their day.
Baby on Board2 of 10
Both the real Lucille Ball and her character in I Love Lucy got pregnant in 1952, and the star's pregnancy was worked prominently into the storyline. However, the show's writers were forbidden to use the word "pregnant." Instead, they used the terms "expecting" or "having a baby."
Sleep Tight3 of 10
Serious TV buffs know that it was Mary Kay and Johnny, the real-life married couple playing themselves in Mary Kay and Johnny (1947 to 1950), who first shared a bed on TV. However, while the pair had just one bed in the bedroom, they were never actually shown together in it. The next couple shown together in bed was … Fred and Wilma Flintstone (1960 to 1966). Animation doesn't count? Then it's a tie between Samantha and Darrin in Bewitched (1964 to 1972) and Herman and Lily in The Munsters (1964 to 1966).
Girl Power4 of 10
Marlo Thomas in That Girl (1966 to 1971) played spunky struggling actress Ann Marie, trying to make it big in New York City. Although she may have been the first single woman living alone on TV, Anne Marie did have a boyfriend throughout the series. The final episode was supposed to feature her wedding to this longtime beau, but star and executive producer Marlo Thomas didn't want the message to be that the primary goal of every woman should be marriage.
Showing Some Skin5 of 10
Until the 1970s, TV actresses were forbidden to reveal their apparently scandalous navels—that meant even midriff-baring characters like Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie and Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island had to keep their belly buttons covered. Actress Mariette Hartley was likewise navel-less in a 1966 episode of Star Trek—which infuriated the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry. In 1973, Roddenberry retaliated: His TV movie, Genesis II, featured Mariette Hartley with two belly buttons.
Color Lines6 of 10
On Nov. 22, 1968, William Shatner, as Captain James T. Kirk, locked lips with Nichelle Nichols' Uhura, making it the first interracial kiss on TV. As TV lore goes, in the initial script, it was Spock who was to kiss Uhura. Shatner is said to have proclaimed, "If anybody is going to kiss Nichelle, it's me!"
Family Matters7 of 10
Before The Brady Bunch, there was Make Room for Daddy (1953 to 1965), starring Danny Thomas as Danny Williams. Thomas's character started the series with one wife and ended with another, but the show did little to address this spouse switcharoo. Danny's second wife adopts his son while he adopts her daughter, and the new family is presented as always having been thus. So, while it may be TV's first blended family, The Brady Bunch was really the first to openly address the issues that come with combining households.
Calling It Quits8 of 10
The first character to divorce during the run of the show itself? That would be Rhoda Morgenstern Gerard on Rhoda (1974 to 1978). In this spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda moved to New York City, where she dated and ultimately married Joe Gerard (David Groh). However, Rhoda's later separation and ultimate divorce precipitated a major ratings drop.
Mr. Mom9 of 10
At the moment, TV is captivated by dads who actually take part in the raising of their children: Guys With Kids, Louie, Modern Dads. But the Big Daddy of all such shows was Who's The Boss? (1984 to 1992), where widower Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) becomes live-in housekeeper for divorcée Angela Bower (Judith Light). While Angela leaves for her high-powered corporate job, it's Tony who keeps the household running.
Singled Out10 of 10
When Candice Bergen's Murphy (of Murphy Brown) got pregnant in the fourth season of the show, the show was no longer simply a working woman, but a working single mom. Vice President Dan Quayle targeted Murphy by name in a 1992 speech: "A character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice." Murphy retaliated on air, saying, "I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'Oh, gee, I can't get in for a facial so I might as well have a baby.'"
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