The Dick Van Dyke Show was a classic in its time, but some aspects of the sow haven’t aged all that well in the decades since its final episode.
There are several memorable sitcoms from the 1960s, including The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. In many ways, the shows were ahead of their time, but in other cases, the series show their age with jokes that haven’t aged well over the years.
Regarding The Dick Van Dyke Show, it’s still a classic. Today’s viewers continue to love the hilarious antics of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. The show has clever lines, but some jokes and storylines haven’t aged well nearly 60 years later. Take a look at 10 jokes and plot devices that aren’t as acceptable for today’s audiences.
Rob Being ‘The Man’ Of The House
In the 1960s, social stereotypes and customs contrasted with today’s standards. For example, husbands mostly worked while wives stayed at home. There weren’t very many available options for women. For the most part, The Dick Van Dyke Show excelled by showcasing strong, talented women in many storylines, but there are various occasions that demonstrate male dominance.
For example, Rob still knows he’s “the man” of the house. He makes remarks about his position in the household. In the season three episode “My Part-Time Wife,” Laura wants to help Rob at his office (as a television comedy writer for The Alan Brady Show), but Rob isn’t keen on the idea. The storyline of a woman wanting to work but her husband telling her “no” wouldn’t be acceptable in 2020.
The Dick Van Dyke Show has many episodes involving jealousy and inappropriate crushes. Laura gets jealous over some female cast members Rob works with on The Alan Brady Show. In “The Lady and the Babysitter,” a teenage boy falls in love with Laura. However, this episode is still mostly acceptable for today’s audiences (because we can’t really blame the boy for having a crush on Mary Tyler Moore).
On the other hand, in the season three episode “The Third One from the Left,” a chorus girl falls in love with Rob. Eventually, Rob has to pretend he likes her to force her to stop pursuing him. He chases her around his office. While the episode still gets a good laugh, it wouldn’t be acceptable to see an older man chasing a young chorus woman, even if it was “just pretend.”
The Inappropriate Teacher
Another inappropriate crush, in the season three episode “Teacher’s Petrie,” Laura enrolls in a creative writing course. Her teacher (Bernard Fox) becomes more interested in her than just her creativity. He has a crush on her, and he eventually tells her how he feels.
Can you imagine a show in 2020 featuring a teacher chasing his student around the classroom? It’s inappropriate behavior, but the scene received a lot of laughter from audiences in the 1960s. At least Rob finally stepped in and threatened to punch the teacher. We would like to join him.
Sally Is One Of The Guys
One of the best things about The Dick Van Dyke Show is the dynamics between the writing staff of The Alan Brady Show. You have two men, Rob and Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam). Then, you have a woman writer, Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Sally is independent and loud spoken. She’s honest about her attempt at finding an eligible bachelor (another part of the show that hasn’t aged well). Sally wasn’t just a “typist,” but an important part of the team.
However, the men often treat Sally like she is “one of the guys.” In the season one episode “Sally is a Girl,” Laura persuades Rob to stop treating Sally like a man. She is a woman. In 2020, this episode focusing on gender roles probably wouldn’t be as critically acclaimed as it was in the 1960s.
Joking About A Mortician
In the season five episode “Anthony Stone,” Sally seems to have finally found “the one.” She met a man, Anthony Stone, while on vacation in Jamaica. He seems to be perfect, but Rob and Buddy uncover a shocking secret about him: He’s married.
Now, this plot device has aged well over the years. It could still work in 2020. However, Sally knows another secret about Anthony: He’s a mortician. For some reason, this occupation gives everyone the creeps. What’s wrong with being a mortician? Sure, being a funeral director isn’t the most popular job to have, but is it a reason to be grossed out by a person? Not exactly.
Distasteful Remarks About Laura
There’s no doubt that Mary Tyler Moore was a beautiful woman. The Dick Van Dyke Show showcased her budding talents and beauty, especially whenever Laura performs a musical number. In the season one episode “To Tell or Not to Tell,” Laura is hired as a dancer on The Alan Brady Show.
This seems great, but she walks into Rob’s office wearing her dancing leotard. The office’s delicatessen salesman raves about Laura’s appearance and Rob comments that she is not like the other dancers on the show. She is a married woman. Buddy remarks, “Not today, brother. Today, she is a ‘girl girl.’” These aren’t the most respectful comments to make about Laura’s appearance.
Laura Changing Her Appearance For Rob
Gender roles and stereotypes easily date a show from the 1960s. In the season one episode “My Blonde-Haired Brunette,” Laura worries that Rob is bored with her. She thinks he is no longer interested in her or her appearance. So, she decides to bleach her hair blonde.
This is one of the most classic episodes of the show. It introduced Mary Tyler Moore’s comedic talents, so it’s hard to judge it. However, this episode wouldn’t be as positively acclaimed in 2020. The idea that a woman changing her appearance for a man definitely belongs in the 1960s.
Hiring A Spanish Maid
For the most part, The Dick Van Dyke Show offered episodes that are politically correct. However, in the season three episode “Turtles, Ties and Toreadors,” Rob hires a maid to give Laura a rest from the busy housework. This is a nice gesture, but the maid is Spanish and doesn’t speak a word of English.
This storyline is used for comedic effect. Today’s audiences most likely wouldn’t find it humorous to laugh at the Petries wondering what they can do with their Spanish maid. This wouldn’t be considered politically correct in 2020.
An Abusive Man
In the season three episode “The Lady and the Tiger and the Lawyer,” Rob and Laura become competitive matchmakers over a new neighbor. They try their best to find a suitable woman for this bachelor, but they eventually find out the man hits women he loves.
Physical abuse is never something to joke about—even today, in 2020. While these situations still happen today and can be a storyline on a show, this episode includes jokes and laughter about the man hitting women. Rob reacts awkwardly at the news, but this shouldn’t have been a storyline at all.
Looking At The Bad Old Days
The season one episode “The Bad Old Days” is regarded as one of the worst episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob feels he is doing too much housework, so Buddy warns him about the decline of the American male. In a dream, Rob goes back in time when a man dominated the house.
Every joke falls flat. Laura follows Rob’s orders like a trained seal. Luckily, Rob eventually comes to the realization that the “good old days” were actually the “bad old days.” The episode attempted to focus on gender roles and sexism, but the jokes didn’t cut it.
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