With programs like Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Lost, Downtown Abbey, Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and Breaking Bad, a person of a more recent vintage might wonder how television ever earned such appellations as The Idiot Box or The Boob Tube.
Well the 80s certainly contributed. Exhibit A: Perfect Strangers, a "comedy" in which a befuddled man, Larry, meets his distant cousin, Balki (played by Bronson Pinchot, natch), from the fictional nation of Mypos. Balki doesn't understand American customs! Larry isn't good with women! Oh, the hilarity that ensues. Or not.
This went on for eight seasons no less! Eight looooong years of unfunny, embarrassingly ethnocentric humor about a former sheep herder who, in retrospect, wasn't so much "foreign" as "mentally challenged". Oh, but Freaks and Geeks? Yeah that show needed to be cancelled right away.
But, you protest, this is not a profile of the Myposian Balki Bartokomous! This is a profile of the half-Jewish Bronson Pinchot! It's not fair to judge him based on the one character he's best known for!
Fine. Bronson Pinchot, the man himself, on The Surreal Life:
Per his own agent, Pinchot was warned to watch himself because he's a "horny dude". He molested one female cast member (in the legally culpable sense of the word), and spent the entire series sexually harassing (again, legally culpable) another — "practically begging her to have sex with him."
See, we were trying to do Pinchot a favor by only bringing up Balki.
Boob Tube, indeed.