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Kids' Shows That Proved Surprisingly Controversial

Updated July 28, 2019 63.7k views14 items

Children's television is supposed to be full of innocent and inoffensive material, and restrictions are put in place to regulate what children can see. In spite of these directives, there are plenty of kids' show controversies out there. Whether the drama happens on screen or behind the scenes, many of your childhood favorites - or your own children's go-to programs - have courted scandal. These controversies range from perceived sexual innuendos to supposedly politically incorrect jokes, and some even allegedly made viewers feel ill. 

The issue of censorship often proves a double-edged sword, as different shows have been accused of leaving inappropriate content in that should have been removed, while cutting things out that some felt should have been left in. Obviously, where young and impressionable minds are involved, oversensitivity abounds. Regardless, these shows caused quite a stir.

  • Jerry Falwell Claimed 'Teletubbies' Modeled 'The Gay Lifestyle' 
    Photo: Teletubbies / Sony

    The popular British TV show Teletubbies became controversial for one, big purple reason: Tinky Winky. Reverend Jerry Falwell was convinced that the creature's choice of bag, his color, and his triangular antenna - the latter two, in his words, symbolizing "gay pride" - weren't things that should be on television. "As a Christian I feel that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children," he said.

    The BBC responded: "As far as we are concerned Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag."

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  • Viewers Thought 'Bob The Builder' Dropped An F-Bomb
    Video: YouTube

    Parents were shocked by a scene in the 1999 Bob The Builder Christmas special, where the cheery handyman loses his cool wrestling with a sheet of wallpaper and allegedly can be heard muttering the F-word. Despite the show's makers insisting that actor Neil Morrissey kept things clean during the recording, the episode - released on VHS only - was withdrawn to be on the safe side. This statement was issued on behalf of Bob and his friends:

    We received a small number of complaints just after its release in 1999. To avoid any further confusion the decision was made to re-master the tape. He was definitely not swearing - his words were muffled because he was stuck to a piece of wallpaper at the time.

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  • Jim Henson's other beloved puppet-based TV show has been a magnet for scandals over the years. An episode featuring Katy Perry playing dress-up with Elmo got the show into trouble when some adult viewers felt her outfit displayed too much of her womanhood.

    In response to negative feedback, producers decided to pull the segment from TV:

    In light of the feedback we've received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on YouTube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers.

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  • Since his debut in 1999, this humble undersea fry cook has taken a lot of heat. When SpongeBob SquarePants appeared in a 2005 video alongside other cartoon characters promoting tolerance, one conservative group interpreted it as a "pro-homosexual video" that was "potentially brainwashing kids." The Ukrainian National Expert Commission for Protecting Public Morality came to a similar conclusion about the show in 2012, accusing Patrick Star of being "a real threat to children." 

    In addition to pushing the "gay agenda," the cartoon has also been accused on separate occasions of furthering both liberal and conservative agendas. And in 2009, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood got riled up about a Burger King ad that remixed "Baby Got Back" to "Square Butts" in honor of SpongeBob. The advocacy group said it "objectified women."

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