5 Classic Sitcoms That Are Actually Super Creepy

Sitcoms are supposed to be the television equivalent of a delicious milkshake: sweet, appealing, goes down easy. Sure, there are sitcoms with edge that take risks with their jokes and don’t necessarily tie everything up with a neat little bow in 22 minutes. But according to the standard sitcom formula, what you’re in for is some family-friendly humor wrapped around a life lesson. What’s funny to me, then, is the fact that so many of the shows we all grew up on actually have incredibly creepy premises. We’re all just so used to them we don’t even think about it. Here are my top five:

Diff’rent Strokes

The premise goes something like this: incredibly wealthy older white man takes in two African-American boys from Harlem and raises them as his sons. Now, this isn’t entirely creepy on its own – although it’s not NOT creepy – because, not to be sexist or anything, but isn’t there something just a little bit weird about this older dude adopting two boys on his own? Like… why? But I think what tips this over into total creep territory is the unbelievable onslaught of bad things that happen to these boys after they are adopted. To name a few: racism, drug abuse, multiple interactions with deranged strangers including kidnapping by a pedophile and an entirely separate kidnapping by a would-be rapist, and at least one con-artist-trying-to-bilk-them-out-of-their-inheritance type of situation. And do I even need to remind you of the Diff’rent Strokes curse afflicting the actors themselves? Drug addiction, multiple arrests, assault charges, and, of course, death. So, yeah. Pretty much the creepiest show of all time.

Punky Brewster

So older white men adopting less-fortunate little children on their own is actually a thing? Does this happen in real life? Daddy Warbucks doesn’t count, people (and P.S. he was creepy too). In case you’re a mole person, Punky Brewster tells the story of a little girl whose mother ABANDONS HER AT A SHOPPING CENTER (did anyone else have serious fears of this happening to the point where they never wanted to be left alone in the car? Although that makes no sense because the more I think about it, the more likely it is that she just left her alone inside the mall as opposed to ditching a car along with the daughter and the dog. But I digress). After taking shelter in an abandoned apartment (creepy), Punky is discovered by the manager of the building, a grouchy old man who ends up adopting her. Again, WHY? There’s something odd about an older man who has already lived a life deciding he is going to take on a very-possibly-troubled little girl who wears two different colored socks. Of course, as a kid, I accepted Henry and Punky’s relationship at face value. Who wouldn’t want that spunky little sassafrass dancing around his apartment and throwing his sleeping pills down the drain? But as an adult, I realize how bizarre and very possibly unnatural Henry’s interest in Punky seemed.

Charles in Charge

A 19-year old college student moves into the home of a well-to-do family and babysits their teenage kids. This is incredibly weird to me, mostly because of the casting. Sure, I know guys who are male nannies, and they’re adorable and sweet and unassuming and kids love them. But we’re talking about Scott Baio here – a veritable teen idol – and the kids he was “in charge” of were full-fledged hotties as well! Specifically, Jamie was played by Nicole Eggert, who went on to star in friggin’ Baywatch! And her sister, played by Josie Davis, was no slouch either. Regardless, they were teenage blonde girls with a guy just a few years older than them living in the house. Their dad was never around, Scott Baio’s idiot friend Buddy had a permanent leer on his face, and don’t even try to tell me nothing sketchy ever went down. You could cut the sexual tension between Jamie and Charles with a knife. Even the theme song has dark, seedy undertones. I want Charles in Charge of me

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  • http://www.facebook.com/thenotorioustkg Tonya Gaddis Johnson

    I’ve thought that several of the above were rather strange myself! TV shows love to have a group of people living together that really don’t fit together at all, and with seemingly little conflict besides the occasional kidnapping or random diagnosis of blindness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EddieLHines Eddie Lee Hines

    The 80’s was the last decade of innocence

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.busey.1 Steven Busey

    The mother on Full House was a blonde as well, her name was Pam. 😛
    There is some footage from the show with “old” footage of her.
    http://youtu.be/tHqKnlojL_g

  • http://www.facebook.com/caitlin.schiavone Caitlin Schiavone

    Haha! So I always found the living arrangements weird in ‘Full House’. In retro spect the show was called ‘Full house’. At he same it could aways just be full guests. I agree though
    Joey at one point just the creepy uncle in the basement. Anywho long story short the point you made about the girl’s hair blow my mind! That’s it Joey ios there father and Bod Saget still upholds his places as a creepy and raunchy old man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karenhan.nguyen Karen Han Nguyen

    I love Full House the best. I miss it T.T

  • http://www.facebook.com/NatashaLittlefield Natasha Littlefield

    There is an episode (porbably the first) of full house that both Jessie and Joey move in the help Danny with his three kids. After his wife died he was over his head with keeping the house clean and raising the three children. Jessie was put into Michelle’s room, that had pink bunnies on her walls. She was upset because her mom put the bunnies there. Later on you’ll see he repainted the room but framed one of the bunnies. Joey had to set up a small place in the living room .. and I guess moved into Jessies room when he redid the attic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/NatashaLittlefield Natasha Littlefield

      Or I guess Joey moved from the living room to the basement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacob.lishmov Jacob Monster Lishmov

    Excuse me, but there have been multiple home videos shown in the episodes of Full House of the mother, she mother had blonde hair.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zurichko Christina Martinez

    Well in the first season of Full House, Jesse’s last name was Cochran and then was changed and with John Stamos being Greek, they changed it to Katsopolis. So I would think that early footage of Pam would be Blonde because they didn’t establish an ethnicity early on in the show.

    • Sarah Heyward

      Exactly! Spot on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10116788 Julie Cardon

    Have you seen the house they live in in SanFran? I don’t blame those guys for all pitching in, being probably worth a few million bucks. And still I can’t imagine how hard it was to make the mortgage with Joey and Jesse not having steady income! Maybe the wife had life insurance….

    • http://www.facebook.com/angeliafaith Angelia Jones

      My thoughts exactly….a house like that, in San Fran, no way a single dad could afford it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.mcintosh.94 Andy McIntosh

    Thank you for this article, Sarah. I always wondered what the creator of Small Wonder really had in mind when this show first aired. And, having been a 12 year old boy, you are right on the mark with your ‘special command’ musing. That would have definitely happened in real life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/irene.valdez.315 Irene Valdez

      Thats a ridiculous thing to admit lol.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.mcintosh.94 Andy McIntosh

      @Irene – I think you’re inferring things I’m not implying. I’m not endorsing that sort of behavior. I’m just saying that 12-year-old boys have immature minds and overly-stimulated libidos. In a situation like the show, I agree with Sarah that what she describes would happen. Nothing ridiculous about that.

  • Sarah Heyward

    I obviously knew that his last name was Cochran in the first season, which also happens to be when the blonde footage occurs, so once they made him Greek and we meet all his dark-haired relatives, you really think the wife was still supposed to be blonde? You guys, we need to crack this!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomb67 Tom Berndt

    One must admit, back in those days, there were fewer perverts than today. The writer of this story writes from the perspective of one who is accustomed to perversion, so sees it where it didn’t exist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/irene.valdez.315 Irene Valdez

      Tom Im so glad I wasnt alone on that. You put it exactly as I would but I was trying to be too nice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.maier Chuck Maier

    the entire premise of this article is that older men who care about kids must have unsavory ulterior motives. By this logic all male teachers are suspect. How incredibly sexist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alyssa.kriss Alyssa Camille Kriss

    I am in complete agreeance with this article, BUT I grew up watching Full House and I’ve seen every episode too many times and let me just say most of topics in question have been explained in its own episode one way or another. There is an episode where you see a home video right after Michelle was born and their mother was somewhat fair skinned with blonde hair, but like you mentioned, her brother Jesse is very Greek in appearance. Another thing is in the first season Jesse’s last name was different but for some reason the writers changed it along the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.elmendorf Michael Lee Elmendorf

    Another good reason to not watch TV haha. You forgot about Greg dating his mom; Mrs Brady. And Daddy being gay haha.

    Ramones “We’re A Happy Family”

    We’re a happy family
    We’re a happy family
    We’re a happy family
    Me mom and daddy

    Siting here in Queens
    Eating refried beans
    We’re in all the magazines
    Gulpin’ down thorazines

    We ain’t got no friends
    Our troubles never end
    No Christmas cards to send
    Daddy likes men

    Daddy’s telling lies
    Baby’s eating flies
    Mommy’s on pills
    Baby’s got the chills

    I’m friends with the President
    I’m friends with the Pope
    We’re all making a fortune
    Selling Daddy’s dope

  • http://www.facebook.com/cat.kitty.walsh Cat Walsh

    I agree with Chuck Maier. This article is sexist. The men are painted as creepy perverts/pedophiles. It’s not unnatural for men to care for children or feel protective of them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/meralee727 Meredith Lee

      Ha, ha…you’re joking. Right? You actually are calling an article about 80’s sitcoms sexist! You are joking….this is meant as sarcasm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ash.deberry Ash Woods DeBerry

    So michael we arent supposed to watch tv because some actors are gay? Wow….

  • http://www.facebook.com/Jnhartz15 Jordan Hartz

    My two dads def should have been at the top o the list! Way creepy!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/meralee727 Meredith Lee

    I completely disagree with anyone who says this article is sexist….this is so spot on and perfect! I loved all of those shows with a burning passion. I wanted to be Punky Brewster–but the premise of that show is really kinda creepy and in reality, Punky would not be this cheery after being abandoned. Small Wonder, definitely creepy. I also always wondered how no one picked up on the fact that Vickie was a robot! My Two Dads I could give a pass too because of the back story but yeah, Jordan, you’re probably right. Also, what about Rags to Riches? Creepy guy adopts a bunch of hot orphans who sing and stuff! And then what about ALF…even the knowledge that ALF was apparently a figment of the creator’s drugged out mind. Wasn’t he a heroin addict or something? Massive creepy and okay yeah…you live with a giant furry midget/alien thing whose nose is like massively phallic. Oh and Diff’rent Strokes- correct me if I’m wrong but were Arnold and Willis ask to be taken in by Mr. Drummond? I thought he drove up in limo and chose them? OHHHH! I got another one–Facts of Life. Four grown women–they’re in the twenties by the end of the shows run–they share one bedroom attic instead of–I don’t know–getting their own apartments! Or building a couple other bedrooms? Come on! I’m getting too worked up. I have to stop now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/elaina.leavitt Elaina Leavitt

      its hilarious to think back about all these shows now, you’d never catch alf on prime time now. so funny, I took it with a grain of salt back then, …alf, sitting on the sofa, holding the remote, making his wisecracks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.hensiek Jeff Hensiek

    it is creepy because of male adoption? that is ridiculous.

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