Top 20 Most Controversial TV Shows Ever in the US

Most Controversial TV Shows. In the past few years, TV shows have been making bold moves, leading to many arguments and talks among people who watch TV, those who review it, and those who talk about society. One of the most talked-about and controversial TV series in the 2020s is 13 Reasons Why.

Top 20 Most Controversial TV Shows Ever in the US

This show, made by Netflix, has been heavily criticized for showing suicide and mental health problems in a very detailed and explicit way. Some people think the show makes suicide look appealing, which could affect those who are struggling emotionally. However, others believe it has opened up crucial discussions about mental health and the importance of having better support for those in need.

1: The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018)

The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018)

Some TV shows can be remembered as nothing other than a symbol of controversy and one of them is The Jerry Springer Show. It started as a conventional talk show in 1991 transforming into a mean and sensational program characterized by provocative topics as well as on-air fights. Such incidents involved the guests fighting physically, disclosing illicit affairs loudly and acting indecently as per the perception of many people. Skeptics accused the show of taking advantage of its guests as well as the continuation of stereotypical pictures. However, it continued to air for almost three decades, which proved the idea of American’s interest toward sensational show.

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2: Married… with Children (1987-1997)

Married… with Children (1987-1997)

Married. .. with Children was another sitcom that revolutionized sitcoms with the non traditional Bundy family. The topics this show covered included sex, family relations, and even satire where the show poked fun at the society. Al Bundy, the antiheroic main character, was popular and famous, while the sitcom was provokingly vulgar and sexist to many viewers. It aired for 10 seasons and stirred up debates; however, it gracefully paved paths for other sitcoms.

3: South Park (1997-present)

Top 20 Most Controversial TV Shows Ever in the US

Criticized for its provocative cynicism and sophomoric jokes since the very start of the series, South Park successively attracted controversy. The culturally sensitive show has no qualms about politics, religion, or events happening in the real world. Due to extreme episodes such as “Cartoon Wars” and “Trapped in the Closet” containing material that is not safe for air, controversy and censorship follows free speech. Still, South Park can be regarded as being culturally relevant due to its ability to probe various issues in society and also offend a few people.

4: The Simpsons (1989-present)

The Simpsons (1989-present)

Looking at its impact, The Simpsons has become a phenomenon in the television history due to its innovation in the field of animation and presenting the American family through a humorous and satirical perspective. Although the show has gained the approval of many fans, it has been criticized for the aspects of race, stereotype, and raise of social issues. Some of them are; charge of racism due to creations such as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and portrayal of dysfunctional families. In spite the above breakdown, The Simpsons has remained part of modern popular culture.

5: All in the Family (1971-1979)

All in the Family (1971-1979)

Some TV shows that simply shocked the self-assured American audiences are All in the Family where the stereotype of a bigotry working-class man Archie Bunker offended people and focused on themes of race, gender and politics. Although they had criticised it for promoting bigotry, people have hailed it for its realism and social relevance; the show is credited as a classic in the history of television.

6: Maude (1972-1978)

Maude (1972-1978)

Maude was a spin-off of All in the Family and the show debuted as one of the first shows to address such forbidden themes such as abortion and women’s liberation. Starting with substantially overweight and packing a sarcastic put-down anytime she opened her mouth, the show’s main character, Bea Arthur, would turn into a role model of women’s liberation. Thirteen episodes of socially sensitive and politically charged material touched topics like abortion rights shown in ‘Maude’s Dilemma’ The episode raised a lot of national controversy and was appreciated for daring subject matter.

7: Roseanne (1988-1997, 2018-2018)

Roseanne (1988-1997, 2018-2018)

Indeed, Roseanne was considered relevant to the audiences at large for depicting a working-class American family struggling with the new economy. LGBT rights, racism and healthcare were some of the issues that the show equally addressed. There were issues concerning the revival of the show after the main actress Roseanne Barr engaged in tweeting scandalous things, and as a result, was fired, and the show was renamed as The Conners. Nevertheless, Roseanne holds a unique position as one of the first television shows about the American working class.

8: The Howard Stern Show (1986-present)

The Howard Stern Show (1986-present)

Rising from local radio stations, the radio program named The Howard Stern Show hosted by Howard Stern made its way through the mainstream media as a shock jock entertainment. Often rated as one of the most indecent shows, Stern took the sting of the raw jokes and scandalous interviews beyond the popular and celebrated celebrities. Some of the issues include fines by the FCC, opposition from conservative organizations, and stretching of the freedom of speech. However, to this day, Stern continues to be a controversy figure in broadcasting.

9: Dexter (2006-2013)

Dexter (2006-2013)

Dexter was always a show that contestants to think in terms of killing people who are considered as criminals by a regular society. It’s estimated that fifty percent of viewers’ complaints in 1990s Britain involved the graphic violence witnessed on the show as well as the moral issues which created a huge debate in relation to justice, vigilantism, and the portrayal of violence in television programs. The show, however, drew some controversy with regard to two primary areas namely celebrating violence and portrayal of mental health issues.

10: Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

Game of Thrones engaged fans in a fantasy storytelling and acting drama. However, critics were less kind to the show due to violence, sexually appealed characters and plot which was left as a mystery. Some episodes such as the Red Wedding surprised the audience and others contained violent sexually scenes which later raised questions regarding the portrayal and the ethics of the writers and directors. However, Game of Thrones is still considered to be one of the shows that must be watched no matter what opinions are held by people.

11: The X-Files (1993-2018)

The X-Files (1993-2018)

The X-Files blurred the strains among technology fiction and reality with its exploration of conspiracy theories and the mystical. The display’s dark tone, authorities conspiracies, and unsettling stories sparked excessive viewer interest and controversy. Episodes like “Home” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” pushed barriers with their stressful content, main to debates on censorship and storytelling obstacles.

12: Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-2011)

Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-2011)

Beavis and Butt-Head became notorious for its crude humor, social satire, and debatable portrayal of sweet sixteen existence. The animated series confronted grievance for its depiction of violence, stupidity, and impact on children subculture. Despite controversies, the display garnered a devoted following and have become a cultural touchstone for Generation X.

13: American Horror Story (2011-present)

American Horror Story (2011-present)

American Horror Story redefined horror on television with its anthology format and photographic content. Each season explores unique horror genres, from haunted houses to cults and supernatural entities. Controversies include violence, sexual content and disturbing images that push the boundaries of what is appropriate on television. Despite the controversies, the show continues to attract visitors with its provocative narrative.

14: 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

Thirteen Reasons Why sparked a national debate with its depiction of young suicides and mental fitness. The graphic depiction of suicide in the first season raised concerns approximately its effect on susceptible visitors. Subsequent seasons dealt with sexual assault, drug abuse, and faculty shootings, further fueling controversy and debate about responsible storytelling.

15: The Walking Dead (2010-present)

The Walking Dead (2010-present)

The Walking Dead reinvented the zombie genre with its realistic portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world. The show’s graphic violence, heavy moral questions, and character deaths provoked both controversy and discussion. Episodes like ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ have left viewers breathless at their brutal content. But should we be asking questions about TV violence in an age when anything is possible on screen?

16: Saturday Night Live (1975-present)

Saturday Night Live (1975-present)

Saturday Night Live: In terms of political satire, general social issues, and even media in specific. After all, a show that features controversial sketches (see Eddie Murphy’s racial stereotypes portrayal or the skits on politicians) is bound to ignite a controversy or two about censorship and free speech. However, it has defied all this and cemented its place as a cultural icon known for its wit.

17: Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

Nip/Tuck breached the limits with its graphic content and portrayal of aesthetic surgery and vanity. The display’s depiction of surgical procedures, sexual attitudes, and moral uncertainty was highly controversial but also attracted viewers to it. Critics lauded its audacious narrative techniques whereas others condemned it for being a mirror reflecting on America’s culture of shallowness and affluence.

18: Big Brother (2000-present)

Big Brother (2000-present)

Reality TV revolutionized by Big Brother, with its idea of extreme voyeurism and social experiment. The show’s controversies range from alleged exploitation to invasions of privacy and ethical problems. Arguments and discussions about those norms as well as reality TV ethics have been ignited by racism, bullying, among other things exhibited by the participants.

19: The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, 1985-1989, 2002-2003, 2019-present)

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, 1985-1989, 2002-2003, 2019-present)

An ageless masterpiece, the Twilight Zone is considered as an exceptional series with its profound storytelling and societal messages. For example, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and “Eye of the Beholder” dealt with such issues as insecurity, following others blindly, and racism. Despite receiving acclaims from critics, this show was censored in part because of its provocative themes and disturbing stories.

20: Jersey Shore (2009-2012, 2018-present)

Jersey Shore (2009-2012, 2018-present)

Jersey Shore became a cultural phenomenon with its portrayal of young adults living and partying together. The show’s controversies include accusations of promoting stereotypes, excessive drinking, and reckless behavior. Despite criticism, Jersey Shore sparked a reality TV craze and remains influential in popular culture.