There are plenty of rites of passage most people experience as a kid.
However, I’d argue none of them are more formative than sneaking some TV at a sleepover in search of shows you know virtually nothing about except your parents would have an absolute heart attack if they knew you watched them.
My first experience with this came in fourth grade when a kid said his older brother told him that once the clock struck 10 PM, television turned into a lawless world filled with things like “sex” and “69.”
Did I know what either of those things meant at the time? No. No, I did not.
I just knew they were things my parents wouldn’t want me to know about so I made it my mission to enter into the uncharted waters of late-night television.
This sparked a journey of rebellion, where I would spend the next few years learning “butt” wasn’t actually the worst swear word in the world.
According to Uproxx, Senior Living recently conducted a survey of people across all age groups to try to figure out what the most offensive television show of all time is.
These were the results.
5. Married… with Children (2.7%)
Starting in 1987, Al Bundy and his family set out on a mission to undermine wholesome family sitcoms with a show that provided a much more realistic look at the pitfalls that come with raising a couple of teenagers— including Christina Applegate, who is permanently seared into the minds of adolescents that grew up with her.
The show was filled with an impressive stream of jokes featuring racy innuendos, casual misogyny, and (GASP!) partially exposed breasts.
However, Married… With Children never would have existed if it wasn’t for the next entry.
4. All In The Family (6.4%)
All in the Family centers around Archie Bunker, a man who couldn’t go more than three sentences without dropping some kind of epithet and might actually have taken the top spot if it wasn’t for the fact no one under the age of 50 really remembers it.
Bunker was supposed to be portrayed as a social artifact but that didn’t really take away from his very questionable choice of words when it came to addressing topics like religion, race, and sexuality.
If think pieces had existed back then, there’s no doubting All in the Family would have been the star of essays with “problematic” in the title.
3. Maury (7.1%)
Virtually every single kid in America had the same viewing schedule when they stayed home sick from school, which started with catching an episode of The Price Is Right before flipping the Maury and getting a look at the underbelly of America.
Maury first aired in 1991, and since then, it’s managed to distill the essence of trashiness into a television show featuring rebellious teens, love triangles, burly security guards, and— most importantly— paternity tests that often spark amazing dances like the ones in the video above.
The Real World might get credit for being the first reality televison show but I’d argue Maury was actually ahead of the curve.
2. Family Guy (10.5%)
Unlike the previous entries on this list, Family Guy has stirred up so much shit since it first aired in 1999 that it has its own Wikipedia page devoted to the countless controversies it’s stirred up over the years.
I won’t even try to sum up the endless topics the show has lampooned in the most tasteless ways possible but it’s safe to say Seth MacFarlane has managed to perfect the art of offensiveness over the past couple of decades.
However, no one has done it better than the guys responsible for the show that took the top spot.
1. South Park (30.7%)
I covered some of the best (and most offensive) moments in South Park history ahead of the first episode of the newest season of South Park that aired last week.
People around the country were absolutely aghast when South Park premiered in 1997 thanks to its unprecedented offensiveness that knew literally no bounds.
After all, this is a show that’s featured, among many other things:
- Every stereotype imaginable
- An episode that tracked the number of times “shit” was uttered
- A singing piece of poop
- Indiana Jones being sexually assaulted
- Everything else
Over the years, the people in charge of being outraged about TV shows have essentially become as numb to South Park as America has been to school shootings after realizing there was virtually nothing they could do to make Trey Parker and Matt Stone tone things down.
South Park took the top spot by a wide margin and it’s safe to say it earned it.