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9 Great TV Shows That Subvert the Right-Wing Worldview

Epic put-downs that conservatives can't ignore.

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And now for some classics that really made conservatives deranged:

8. Will and Grace. Ellen Degeneres came out on television and in reality in 1997 on her eponymous sitcom, opening the door for more representations of gays on television, including  Modern Family and the aforementioned  The New Normal. But first came  Will & Grace, the 1998 sitcom depicting a gay man and his hapless woman best friend, living together normally in New York City, and introducing several other gay characters on the show. After Ellen broke that taboo box open, this show explored various degrees of sexuality, include Will's friend Jack who was very effeminate, and Grace's friend Karen who was bisexual. While it got a little forced-campy, it truly did open doors—to the chagrin of some clergy and other homophobic groups, particularly after Will & Grace addressed themes about anti-gay groups, and spoofed Christianity. Whoops! The show ran until 2006.

9. Murphy Brown. The 1990s culture wars piqued on television with the emergence of Murphy Brown, which depicted Candace Bergen as the hardscrabble anchor of the title. It was one thing that she was a strong feminist character emblematic of the era's fierce third-wave feminism, but at one point, she had a kid out of wedlock—and that made jokester Vice President Dan Quayle freak the hell out, giving a speech lambasting the show. "Primetime TV has Murphy Brown," he said, "a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice." He was roundly mocked, obviously, but the speech embodied the disconnect between society's long march forward and politics' backwards-thinking leaders.

 

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.