8 TV Episodes That Caused A Stir Off-Screen
THE USE OF THE N-WORD ON THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY
The retelling of the famed O.J. Simpson murder trial is always cause for discussion, but this week's episode saw Nathan Lane (as defense attorney F. Lee Bailey) drop the N-word – uncensored – multiple times throughout the episode, particularly in the scene where he is cross-examining witness Mark Fuhrman, a police detective notorious for using racial slurs.
OLIVIA'S ABORTION ON SCANDAL
This season on Scandal, the show tackled two hot-button topics – in the same episode. While former First Lady and current senator Mellie Grant filibustered against the defunding of Planned Parenthood, Olivia Pope had an abortion for a previously unknown pregnancy. The scene received mixed reactions – a conservative media group called the episode evidence of but it also inspired positive ones from reproductive rights advocates like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, who thanked Shonda Rhimes for "bringing this incredibly important issue to the bajillion people watching."
THE OVERDOSE ON MOM
Fans of the funny and often-lighthearted Mom got a taste of something serious this season when Jodi (Emily Osment), who was being sponsored by Christy (Anna Faris) in AA, died after a drug overdose, much to the devastation of fans.
WHEN ANNA WAS RAPED ON DOWNTON ABBEY
Fans let out a collective cry when lady's maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt)– one of the sweetest people at Downton Abbey – was brutally raped by Mr. Green, Tony Gillingham's valet. The scene – and the aftermath for the character – was difficult to watch, but was performed beautifully by Froggatt, who won a Golden Globe for her work that season.
THE CERSEI/JAIME RAPE SCENE ON GAME OF THRONES
Between the death, the plotting, the sex and the blackmail, there isn't much about Game of Thrones that isn't controversial, but the scene in season 5 that sees Cersei and Jaime having sex next to Joffrey's tomb and manages to combine incest, death and rape gave viewers lots to discuss.
THE SCHOOL SHOOTING ON GLEE
Glee wasn't all song and dance – there were some heavy moments, too. One of the most intense came in the show's fourth season, when William McKinley High was in lockdown after gunshots were fired on school grounds. It was the first-ever episode of the show that had a "viewer discretion advised" disclaimer, and Ryan Murphy called it "the most powerful emotional Glee ever."
ELLEN'S COMING OUT ON ELLEN
Ellen DeGeneres came out in real-life through her character, Ellen Morgan, on her hit sitcom Ellen in 1997. In the episode, Ellen revealed that she is gay to a therapist played by the one and only Oprah Winfrey, while simultaneously doing the same thing off-screen on the cover of TIME magazine. The negative kickback was swift – ABC, the show's network, even received bomb threats. Ellen was cancelled a year later.
THE YOUNGEST-EVER SAME-SEX KISS ON THE FOSTERS
When Jude and Connor kissed on a 2015 episode of The Fosters, their lip lock became the youngest-ever same-sex kiss on television. Despite some negative backlash on Twitter, co-creator Bradley Bredeweg stood beside his decision: "It was time to see this, time to put this up for the world. Then people understand, they're able to wrap their heads around it."