Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

The Year's Most Controversial TV Moments

  1. Begin
    Courtesy: ABC.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    The election may have put you on one side or another of this year's debates, but politics was hardly the only controversy people couldn't stop talking about in 2016 — and thank heavens for that. Television is something we can all talk about without too much drama. Fortunately, there were a ton of controversial moments from the tube that provided plenty of conversational fodder across the board and the nation.

    For better or worse, TV didn't hold back this year: It offed beloved characters, broke up couples we assumed were ride-or-die, and dropped major reveals that made fans run to the message boards for immediate picking apart and discussion. Not every choice made by TV's powers-that-be made every fan happy, but it did keep us engaged. Trouble is the spice of life, right?

    While we haven't quite gotten over some of these moments, at least there's always more in the mix for next year — turns of events that will surely have fans up in arms. Until then, let's take a look back at the bold moves TV made this year and the controversies that followed. (Warning: spoilers to follow!)

    More Entertainment Stories:
    Realizing Things: Is 2016 The End Of The It Girl?
    Feeling Festive? Here's Every Single Holiday Movie Streaming Now
    These Horror Movies Will Scare The Pants Off You



    Begin Slideshow
  2. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/238Lcjbecb4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    0 of 22

    The Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

    The Controversy: Cultural Appropriation

    In the season 2 episode "Kimmy Goes To A Play!," Titus (Tituss Burgess) decides to put on a one-man show in which he plays a geisha. His "yellow face" performance gets him in hot water with the online advocacy group Respectful Asian Portrayals In Entertainment.

    Yeah...R.A.P.E. is the tasteless acronym of choice. Ultimately, the show portrays that Asian American activists as overreacting to Titus' "innocent" performance, which, upon realizing it, literally causes them to spontaneously combust. The show was criticized for insensitivity, as well as for lashing out on an audience who had previously criticized other racist portrayals on the show.

  3. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/seP4cNQclvU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    1 of 22

    The Series: UnREAL

    The Controversy: The Traffic Stop Shooting

    UnREAL has a reputation for being provocative, but not everyone was thrilled with how it handled the issue of police brutality against Black lives. In the episode, white producers Coleman (Michael Rady) and Rachel (Shiri Appleby) deliberately set up their Black suitor, Darius (B.J. Britt) to be stopped by the cops for "stealing" a car from set.

    His cousin, Romeo (Gentry White) gets shot (but survives) during an argument between Darius and the officers. Some felt that UnREAL was using the very real issue of police brutality to further drama without truly exploring the problem in a real way.

  4. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    2 of 22
  5. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DTRt5QywJZw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    3 of 22

    The Series: Pretty Little Liars

    The Controversy:
    Spencer & Caleb's Hookup

    Many fans were angry that PLL broke up Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashey Benson) in the first place, so anyone that Caleb got with next would likely face their wrath.

    But few fans expected the show to break the girl code, as it did when Spencer (Troian Bellisario) went for her BFF's serious ex. Still, not everyone hated Spaleb as much as Haleb loyalists. Some argued that Spencer and Caleb were a well-suited match — perhaps even more so than the original Haleb.

  6. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/o63qGkcnWHY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    4 of 22

    The Series: How To Get Away With Murder

    The Controversy:
    Wes Dies

    Promos teased who the dead character "under the sheet" was for weeks before it was revealed that Wes (Alfred Enoch) was the one who perished in the fire. Some fans loved the shocking twist (and the new murder-mystery that was set up), while others wondered how the series would continue without the heart of the Keating Five.