The ‘90s and ‘00s were a unique time for TV shows aimed at adolescents. Preachy afterschool specials, which reached their peak in the ‘80s, were on a steady decline, both in production and popularity. And the 2010’s shows, like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, which would offer young viewers pretty much zero semblance of reality, were a mere twinkle in some producer’s eye.
But kid’s TV shows from the ‘90s and ‘00s were unprecedented, and they weren’t afraid to ~go there.~ They contained surprisingly dark plotlines, dealt with some pretty serious issues, and of course, included a lot of adult jokes.
Obviously, this led to some stressful TV moments — moments that were problematic, inappropriate for children, or involved a character, usually a kid, being put in an awkward, or even dangerous, situation. Moments that made me, a particularly nervous kid, super uncomfortable.
So here are 13 of the most uncomfortable, awkward, and problematic moments I remember from kids TV shows:
In the Hannah Montana episode, “He Ain’t a Hottie, He’s My Brother,” Miley finds out that her best friend, Lilly, and her older brother, Jackson, like each other. The age difference between the actors is massive.
In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody episode, “Forever Plaid,” the twins invite their friends over and charge them money to peep on a girl’s soccer team through a hole in the wall.
A few years later, in The Suite Life on Deck, Zack and Cody suspect their teacher is a dancer in a burlesque show. Zack comes up with a plan which involves dressing up their friends, who are teenagers, in showgirl costumes.
In the That’s So Raven episode, “He’s Got the Power,” after Eddie temporarily gains psychic powers, he unknowingly predicts the winner of a horse race for an older kid, Sonny. When Sonny gives Eddie “his cut” of the prize money and shakes him down for the next winner, Eddie, now powerless, makes a total guess.
In a later episode, “Hizzouse Party,” Raven and Cory throw a party, and their reverend shows up.
In the Drake & Josh episode, “The Affair,” Drake overhears his dad on the phone and assumes he’s having an affair.
In the next season of Drake & Josh, in the episode, “I Love Sushi,” after the boys find out that they won a contest, Drake celebrates by kissing a random stranger because…he just has to.
In the Full House episode, “Star Search,” Joey performs stand-up on a TV competition show as his last chance at making it as a comedian…and loses.
In the episode “Babe Raider” of Life With Derek, Casey decides to do her media project on sexist video games, but then, in an attempt to get a boy’s attention, ends up dressing like the character in the video game.
In Rugrats‘ “Naked Tommy,” Tommy convinces the other babies to free themselves by taking off their clothes.
In the SpongeBob episode, “Karate Choppers,” Mr. Krabs bans SpongeBob from practicing karate because it’s interfering with his work. SpongeBob and Sandy try their hardest to not do karate, but it backfires and they “release their frustrations” in a huge karate tussle.
In “Mugged” from Hey Arnold, after Arnold gets mugged, his grandmother teaches him karate to defend himself. He takes it a little too far and beats up an innocent guy.
In the Home Improvement episode, “A Night to Dismember,” after Tim and Jill sneak a peek at Mark’s unfinished horror movie, they become convinced that Mark wants to murder them.
Do you remember any other uncomfortable moments from TV shows you watched as a kid? Let us know in the comments!