5 Classic Sitcoms That Are Actually Super CreepySarah Heyward

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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  • fuzzybearslippers

    I would like to point out that “Uncle Joey” is an unemployed comedian living in San Francisco (pretty much the most expensive place to live, ever). Where the heck else is he going to live, except in the basement of a friend willing to support a mooch? And as for Small Wonder… Isn’t it also possible that the mom had always wanted a daughter and for some reason they couldn’t have one? Why are we taking these shows and making them sinister?

  • a0500817

    this is an incredibly sexist post and i’m very surprised to see it on hello giggles, a site that is devoted to equality of the sexes. no one would bat an eye if these shows featured women instead of men as the parental figures. i am a proud and outspoken feminist… but i feel that men can certainly be the victims of sexism, just as women can. since when is the desire to have children merely a female desire? this kind of thinking is not beneficial for women or for men. i’m sure the writer of this post did not want to be taken TOO seriously… but i think that we need to be aware of the opinions that we share over the internet, especially when they can influence and hurt others. our culture is all about championing the single mother (which i totally support)… however, i would hate to think that if one of my male friends decided to start a family on his own through adoption or what-have-you, that he would be scorned and labeled as “creepy” simply because of his gender.

  • http://www.facebook.com/musingmike Michael Scott Brown

    Concerning Full House, there was a picture of the deceased mother and she was blonde so stop with the nonsense people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SydneyT22 Sydney Tan

    I know this article was supposed to be fun and funny but it just came off as really exclusionary. It basically said that if you don’t have the “average” or “normal” family structure you must be “creepy.” Just because something isn’t just the mommy, the daddy, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a picket fence doesn’t make it creepy.

    A lot of people have shared housing. They can’t afford it so it’s best to live with extended family.

    Or a lot of kids grow up with grandfathers instead of parents or grandmothers.

    There’s more than one kind of family, and they’re all great.

    Not that I liked any of those shows but I think the point of them was even though all these kooky funny things are happening, in the end, they all love each other, things end happily ever after, and the lesson is learned.

    That’s the most important thing that MAKES a family: you love each other, learn together, and you get through things together despite your differences. That’s not creepy at all.

    (I won’t comment on the little girl robot. I can’t argue that that’s not creepy.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/abi.the.ewok Abigail Marie Carrozza

    a lot of greek people are actually blonde! that being said, joey needed to get a life

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.k.haller Kathleen Kent Haller

    Small Wonder terrified me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.c.silver M.C. Silver

    I think a lot of stuff looks different from a grown up lens, hence why being the innocence of childhood seems so nice in retrospect. I appreciate where you’re going with this though…a lot of movies can make the cut on this one too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/krciccolini Kristen Ciccolini

    You have issues. Rent in San Fran is mad expensive, don’t even act like Uncle Jesse and Joey aren’t trying to save money. They get free rent and Danny Tanner gets free babysitters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolina.vizcarra.9 Carolina Vizcarra

    I’m actually watching Charles in Charge on Hulu right now, and in the first season (which is all I’ve seen so far) the children were brunette and instead of 2 daughters and a son they have one daughter and two sons. I’m going to miss them as I move up in the series. When I was younger I only remember the blond cast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jess.horton Jessica Horton

    Seriously, where is Passions on this list? Timmy the living doll who only Tabitha can see as alive, Charity the good girl who turns into a zombie, the weird portal into hell, the fact that Luis and Sheridan sleep together/marry and have kids, then Luis goes on an has a relationship with her niece, WHO HE (basically) RAPED because they were being held hostage and it was the deal to set them free, Alistair Crane, the constant swapping of partners… Then again, the last one could be attributed to any soap (as someone who gets paid to watch Bold and DOOL, I know this far too well).

    • http://www.facebook.com/mary.c.silver M.C. Silver

      And Passions came out in the 90s…crazy stuff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Deachick Deborah Andrews

    Holy smokes, this article was meant too be light hearted. It IS odd to have these obscure situations. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t have ANY of these shows on tv today. Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them at face value…. Now excuse me, I’m going to try and find Small Wonder on netflix…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/bree.e.orr Bree Eidner Orr

    The thing with blondies on full house just doesn’t hold up. It’s called recessive genes people I have brown hair and brown eyes my husband has brown hair and hazel eyes we have three children two with blonde hair and blue-green eyes and one with brown hair and dark brown eyes, they get it from grandparents or great grandparents or a combination of both, no conspiracy I really don’t understand the need to dissect popular shows we grew up with and enjoyed and tear them down it ruins the happy feeling we remember it just seems pointless to me. Unless someone just feels the need to b**** about something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=811840430 Carolyn Bell

    I find this whole article negative and pretty pointless, to be honest. I haven’t even watched half of these shows, not growing up in the USA, but even I feel this is a little far fetched and
    distasteful…..or should I say “creepy”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dgabriellejensen Des Jensen

    Actually, Charles worked for a different family before the Powells moved into the house. Just saying… he came with the house, kind of like furniture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Moonflower66 JoDean Meyer

    You forgot “Too Close for Comfort”!!! That whole puppet thing freaked me out, along with Jim J. Bullock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/norcalmatthew Matthew Binczek

    In Different Strokes the boys’ mom was Mr. Drummonds long time housekeeper. That’s why he felt a responsibility to her kids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/katherineethridge Katherine Ethridge

    Yeah, I definitely think this is ridiculous. I know you wrote it for the entertainment purpose and all that, but labeling all men who want to parent girls as creepy IS wrong. So if those little girls captured the hearts of middle aged women it would be normal just because they’re female, too? A man isn’t allowed to adopt a child unless there is a motherly figure present without it being creepy? I think throwing Full House in there was just stretching it, like you were grasping at straws because you couldn’t think of anything else to write about. It might have been an extremely cheesy show, but I didn’t see anything creepy about the living arrangements. Though I will say that the person who said that there were fewer perverts “back in those days” is wrong. There were just as many perverts/bad things going on, even just as many abductions/rapes/murders – it’s just that it seems like today there are more because we get the information sent to us so quickly through the internet and quicker news releases. We have access to all sorts of stuff now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissaraeb Melissa Rae Brown

    “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?”

    what is weird is that outlook. maybe the world would be a better place if more wealthy people used their money to help children in need. not everyone who loves and wants children is a pervert.

    seems to me, if that is where your head automatically goes, you are the one with an issue that needs working out.

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

      Completely agree

  • http://www.facebook.com/rockyhors Richard Waugh

    My personal creepiest premise has always been ‘The Brady Bunch’, for the nonchalant way the children abandoned any thoughts of their dead parents and immediately referred to their step-parent as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ respectively. Obviously there was no way to include the deceased parents in what is now the standard bearer of light family sitcoms but it’s still creepy and sad.

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

    I think the people who are saying it’s sexist and/or creepy because of the male adoption are kinda missing the point of the article. It’s not that Mr. Drummond or Henry are old men adopting young children…it’s just an odd thing to do. It’s not really “realistic” and how it was done is a little bit odd. I don’t remember how Willis and Arnold came to be adopted but I think Mr. Drummond was cruising in his limo and decided to take them in. Punky’s mother abandons her and she’s squatting in an apartment. Also, wouldn’t Punky’s mother have had some serious legal repercussions. Also, Henry and Mr. Drummond are men that are in their sixties. There would be plenty of questions raised. Why would they take on raising a child or two children with pretty rough back stories? I mean, it would be like one of the Golden Girls adopting a little boy….why? Also, would they allow kids with severe abandonment issues to be taken in by adults who are in their golden years. It really has nothing to do with sexism. There were definitely issues that should have been addressed but wouldn’t have been because it’s an 80’s sitcom.

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

      you can disagree without attacking me and calling me a name…. :)

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

      “Why would they take on raising a child or two children with pretty rough back stories?” a really shallow thing to say. Like kids that need a family are not in good enough condition for adoption. You should really think about that. I really think this whole thing is being over analyzed. Im sure the article is meant to be sarcastioc or funny but it kinda gives us the wrong idea about the journalist and crushes the innocents of shows we grew up watching.

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