This is from March of 1989 and was on the #3 rated show in the country. I’m having a hard time imagining anything similar today because so many people are committed to the myth that this lesson has been learned.
I agree that we wouldn’t see this on TV today but not for those reasons. It’s not because TV executives think rape culture is over. They wouldn’t show it because they want to make as much money as humanly possible and there is a belief, an incorrect and misguided belief, that you can’t say things like this and attract a wide audience. It’s the same principle that eradicated all the great black sitcoms from the 90s including shows like this one. Remember Moesha, The Fresh Prince, Martin, The Wayans, Living Single, Sister Sister, The Arsenio Hall Show? Remember their multi-faceted portrayals of blackness? They’re gone and wouldn’t see the light of day in this “golden era” of television. In the 90s, networks like Fox, for instance, needed to make money and were in the position to take risks. We got UPN, the CW, WB. All these great outlets for entertainment, and I hesitate to say “black” entertainment because these shows were loved by everyone. They were made by us (which is huge) and for us, but they didn’t feel as limiting as say a Tyler Perry movie. But once big money started to roll in and networks started to perk up, they didn’t need us anymore. It became harder for black television and filmmakers to find jobs behind the scenes. If there are no black voices, all that multifaceted goodness just goes down the drain. And let’s not forget the FCC and how they rule with an arbitrary, puritanical, iron fist. In governing the networks, they too are responsible for limited discourse and representation like this scene here. Anyway, I’m rambling. But you get the picture. Networks are well aware of the issues, but if it’s not going to make them money then they aren’t going to talk about it. When they believe defeating rape culture is cool again, they’ll talk about it. When they believe black people on screen will make them money, like in say Basketball Wives, The Real House Wives, The Bad Girls Club (in all their ratchet glory) they’ll cast them. But until then, we are shit out of luck.