The Battle of TV's Best: Exploring Controversy in Hit Shows

The Battle of TV's Best: Exploring Controversy in Hit Shows

Updated on July 27, 2023 18:57 PM by Andrew Koschiev

Over the years, numerous hit shows have graced the big screens, and while many have left a lasting mark on our memories for all the right reasons, some have become infamous due to the controversies surrounding them.

As the saying goes, even bad PR can still bring in good publicity. Here, are  five top hit shows that have been surrounded by controversy

1. Fear factor (2001-2012)

(Image Credits: IMDb)

Fear Factor was undeniably one of the most notorious reality TV shows of its time. With a simple yet blunt premise, the show managed to captivate audiences for well over 100 episodes. Contestants were pushed to their limits as they engaged in extreme and shocking challenges, all for the chance to win various prizes. From blended rats to consuming certain bodily fluids from donkeys (unfortunately, in more than one instance), Fear Factor pushed boundaries and left viewers both fascinated and appalled.

At its core, Fear Factor epitomized reality TV in its rawest form. It took the concept of gross challenges, occasionally seen on shows like Survivor, and turned them into the entire focus of the program. Yet despite its controversial nature, the show gained a substantial following, cementing its place in the realm of unforgettable reality television.

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2. Family Guy (1999-present)

(Image Credits: Wonders in the Dark -

Over the years, Family Guy has evolved, gradually embracing a more provocative and risqué style, making it one of the boldest animated shows on television. Its unapologetic willingness to degrade almost any topic has garnered both fervent fans and vocal critics. Among the disapproving voices is the Parents Television Council (PTC), an advocacy group that has consistently expressed displeasure with the show's content. To some extent, this reaction is predictable for anyone familiar with the show's penchant for pushing boundaries and edgy comedy.

3. 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

(Image Credits: IMDb)

'13 Reasons Why' stirred significant attention and controversy. The show's premise revolves around a high school student taking her life, leading her classmate, Clay Jensen, to embark on a journey to unravel the reasons behind her tragic decision. He discovers a series of distressing revelations through an audio diary she left behind before her death.

While the show sparked important discussions about mental health awareness and the challenges faced by young individuals, its handling of these topics inevitably caused controversy from medical professionals who called it inciting and damaging. As a result, the show remains a subject of both praise and criticism, highlighting the need for responsible storytelling when addressing such critical matters on television.

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4. The Last Temptation of Christ

(Image Credits: Prime Video)

Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' "The Last Temptation of Christ" stands as one of the most controversial films ever released in the United States. The movie faced vehement opposition from Evangelicals and Catholics, who strongly objected to its depiction of Jesus engaging in intimate relations with Mary Magdalene and fathering children. While the scene in question was intended as a portrayal of Christ's imagination, contemplating an alternative path if freed from the cross, these religious groups viewed it as blasphemous.

Despite the initial controversy and backlash, Scorsese's adaptation continues to be a subject of interest and discussion, both for its daring portrayal of religious figures and its impact on the realm of filmmaking.

5. South Park

(Image Credits: Wonders in the Dark -

Throughout its entire run, "South Park" has never shied away from controversy. The show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone take pleasure in pushing boundaries and provoking reactions from the public. Right from the start, they ruffled feathers by portraying a group of grade school kids using foul language and hurling epithets with abandon.

Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council and Peggy Charren of the Action for Children's Television were among those who vehemently criticized the show, labeling it as "dangerous to the democracy." Despite the backlash, "South Park" has continued to air on Comedy Central for over twenty-three years and remains a mainstay in the television landscape.

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