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20 Times TV Made Us Cringe in 2018

Presenting, the best of the best (er, worst of the worst).

Those of us who love television (*raises hand enthusiastically*) spent much of the past year gripped to the small screen. Sometimes, our jaws dropped, our hearts melted, and our eyes shed tears. But the moments that really stick are the ones that left our teeth clenched tightly in discomfort, disgust, or secondhand embarrassment. Because we all know some of the best TV is the kind you can't look away from, no matter how hard you want to.

There are scripted scenes that have made our stomachs churn, and then there are those brutally awkward on-air moments at live awards ceremonies that couldn't have been written. We blushed, we cowered, and we rushed to Twitter to share our thoughts on what we had just seen. They are the moments that may not be easy to relive, but they are even harder to forget. Below, check out the 20 times TV made us cringe in 2018.

A Whole High School Had Diarrhea On American Vandal

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The second season of American Vandal focused on a rather nasty prank that had been pulled at a prestigious high school. With teen documentarians Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) on the case, viewers watched as the duo tried to figure out who spiked the cafeteria's lemonade with laxatives, resulting in a mass case of diarrhea that afflicted nearly every student—truly one of the most putrid TV scenes of 2018 (and quite possibly of all time).

Luann de Lesseps Seemingly Dressed Up in Blackface on The Real Housewives of New York City

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When Real Housewives of New York City's Luann de Lesseps decided to dress up as Diana Ross at a Halloween costume party, she opted to wear an oversized afro wig and makeup that appeared to be darker than her natural skin tone. The reality star was quickly called out when the long-running Bravo series captured the moment for an April episode.

During an appearance on Bravo's talk show Watch What Happens Livehost Andy Cohen pointed out that the public was upset that she seemed to have altered the color of her skin for her costume. In response, Lesseps said, "I didn't. I had bronzer on that I wear normally like the rest of my skin. I'm tan, like right now. So I didn't add anything to or would ever, ever, ever dream of doing a blackface, ever. I'm very sorry to everyone out there if I offended anyone."

Megyn Kelly Defended Blackface Halloween Costumes

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Luann de Lesseps' Diana Ross look also resulted in another blackface controversy in 2018. Megyn Kelly defended the RHONY star and her costume on her NBC talk show, Megyn Kelly Today. "People said that that was racist. And I don't know, I felt like, 'Who doesn't love Diana Ross?'" Kelly said. "She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don't know how, like, that got racist on Halloween."

"What is racist?" Kelly also asked. "Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

Kelly's co-hosts challenged her on the spot and her comments quickly went viral. After a public backlash and apology, her show was canceled by NBC as a result.

Arie Luyendyk Jr. Dumped His Fiancé for Another Woman On The Bachelor

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After being the runner-up during season eight of The Bachelorette in 2012, Arie Luyendyk Jr. decided to take another shot at love by becoming The Bachelor for the show's 22nd season. However, after choosing Becca Kufrin in the end, Luyendyk Jr. changed his mind and decided that he wanted to be with one of the women he had sent home, Lauren Burnham. It was the most brutal 40 minutes of The Bachelor ever and fans weren't thrilled by Luyendyk Jr.'s choice to call off the engagement with the cameras rolling.

As uncomfortable as the public split was to witness, it now looks like everyone is headed towards happily ever after: Luyendyk Jr. and Burnham are expecting their first child and Kufrin is engaged to Garrett Yrigoyen, who she fell in love with while leading her own season of The Bachelorette.

Bachelor in Paradise Alum Ashley Iaconetti Got Engaged in Front of Her Ex

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Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon first met on the second season of Bachelor in Paradise in 2015, but their love story didn't kick into full gear until this year when the pair revealed that they were a couple and soon after got engaged. And while it seemed like a romantic choice for Haibon to propose during the show's fifth season, so that he could get down on one knee on the same beach where they first met, Iaconetti's ex Kevin Wendt also just happened to be in attendance.

Iaconetti and Wendt had briefly dated after they met on The Bachelor Winter Games earlier this year and eventually, Iaconetti admitted to kissing Haibon while she was dating Wendt. So it was hard to watch as Wendt found himself up in a treehouse with the rest of the cast of Bachelor in Paradise season five to watch what became the longest proposal in the reality show's history.

A Crock-Pot Killed Jack on This Is Us

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It was no secret that Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) would eventually die on NBC's This Is Us, but when the tragic moment finally unfolded in the 2018 second season "Super Bowl Sunday" episode, fans couldn't believe the way the beloved character's death came about.

When a malfunctioning Crock-Pot sparked a fire in the Pearson home, Jack got everyone out safely. He was taken to the hospital and eventually given a clean bill of health. However, when his wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), left his bedside to get a snack and to check on their children, the lethal amount of smoke Jack had inhaled during the fire caused him to go into cardiac arrest. The fact that Jack died because of a kitchen appliance on top of the fact that he passed away while completely alone was hard for fans to digest, to say the least.

The Conners Killed Off Roseanne

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After ABC canceled Roseanne Barr's newly rebooted show, because of her racist tweets, the cast and crew regrouped without the actress for a spinoff called The Conners. When the new show premiered without its matriarch, viewers learned Barr's character died of an opioid overdose. Fans had mixed reactions to the reworked series, as well as the choice to kill off Roseanne—especially to do so by using a nationwide medical issue as a prop—but, whatever side of the debate you were on, no two ways about it: This was still a cringeworthy situation from start to finish.

Riverdale Cheerleaders Performed a "Jailhouse Rock" Dance for an Imprisoned Archie

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The CW's Riverdale has never taken itself too seriously, but when its main character, Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), found himself behind bars in season three, his lady love Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) stepped up to give him a show. Ronnie gathered the Riverdale Vixens just beyond the prison's fence where Archie and his fellow inmates were playing a game of football and launched into a fully choreographed "Jailhouse Rock" performance. While Archie and the young men behind bars obviously enjoyed the display, it was just too much, even for a show that likes to take it over the top.

Eleanor Got Another Chance and Almost Blew It on The Good Place

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The third season of The Good Place gave the deceased Eleanor (Kristen Bell) another chance to save her soul. In order to prove that she would have been a better person had she been given a nudge in the right direction, afterlife architect Michael (Ted Danson) wiped Eleanor's memory and rewound time to set her on a path in a new timeline that could end up turning her into a truly worthy human being. However, after a brief flirtation with noble acts, fans were left cringing as Eleanor nearly blew her chance for eternal happiness by reverting back to her former selfish ways.

Teddy Perkins Haunted Atlanta

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Viewers couldn't help but flinch when Teddy Perkins came onto the scene in season two of FX's Atlanta. Played by the show's multitalented creator and star, Donald Glover, in whiteface, Perkins was an eccentric character who was simultaneously captivating and creepy. His disturbingly sharp features, enigmatic eyes, and soul-chilling speaking voice gave viewers nightmares.

Even the show's director, Hiro Murai, told The New York Times that looking at Glover while he was Perkins was "uncanny and unsettling." Murai explained, "There was a general sense of unease on set because the cast and crew didn't know how to behave around him. Just being in the same room with him was really unsettling, and it definitely made me lose some sleep."

The onscreen freakiness then flowed into real life when Teddy Perkins showed up at the 2018 Emmy Awards in September—alongside Glover!

Both Carl and Rick Met Their End on The Walking Dead

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Despite the fact that they had been warned that it was coming, fans were still shaken when Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) died during the eighth season of The Walking Dead in early 2018. Viewers had watched the young character grow up in the zombie-ridden reality for years and seeing the character killed off was hard for a lot of fans to get over.

The dire situation became even worse during season nine later in the year when Carl's father and the show's main character, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), suffered a gruesome wound and seemingly blew himself up in a sacrificial act. And while Rick's story will apparently continue in three feature-length Walking Dead films for AMC, fans will surely need some time to recover from all of the cringing, cowering, and crying they did thanks to those two emotional losses.

Michael Came Back from the Dead (In a Way) on Jane the Virgin

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Just as fans were preparing themselves for Rafael (Justin Baldoni) to propose to Jane (Gina Rodriguez) on the season four finale of Jane the Virgin, something truly unexpected happened that left viewers screaming at the twist and cringing at the timing: Michael (Brett Dier), the person that Jane first thought she would spend the rest of her life with before believing that he had died, appeared! Whether you were Team Rafael or Team Michael, it was hard to watch. 

Kim Kardashian Threw Shade at Her Sister's Boyfriend While She Gave Birth

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In November 2018, during the fifteenth season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, fans watched as Khloé Kardashian went into labor with her first child, a baby girl named True. The delivery came just days after reports began that Khloé's boyfriend, NBA player Tristan Thompson, had cheated on the reality star. Khloé's tight-knit family was understandably upset about the situation. While they gathered in the mom-to-be's hospital room as she prepared to give birth, Kim Kardashian couldn't resist showing how she really felt about Thompson. When his back was turned, cameras caught her sticking her tongue out and making vicious gestures towards the alleged adulterer.

Every Single Second of Nailed It!

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In March 2018, Netflix blessed us with some of the worst kitchen competition fails the world has ever seen, thanks to the debut of Nailed It! Hosted by the hilarious Nicole Byer—with pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres along to offer culinary expertise and pedigree—the series follows three amateur bakers facing off to produce Pinterest-worthy creations. However, their results are consistently less than successful… and that's putting it mildly.

In June 2018, a second season was released to the delight and horror of fans as they watched more dessert-related disasters in each episode. And, as an early cringeworthy Christmas gift, a third holiday-themed collection followed in December 2018.

Madonna Made a Strange Speech to Honor Aretha Franklin

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In August, Madonna took the stage at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards to give a speech that was meant to honor the late Aretha Franklin. "Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life," she said before launching into a story that seemed to focus more on herself than Franklin. To make matters worse, Madonna had chosen an African-inspired outfit that rubbed many the wrong way.

In response to the backlash over her awkward tribute, Madonna defended herself on Instagram, writing, "Just to clarify: I was asked…to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha!"

James Franco Pushed Tommy Wiseau Away at the Golden Globes

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Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric producer, director, and star of the 2003 cult classic The Room, finally found the level of recognition he was looking for thanks to James Franco's portrayal of him in 2017's The Disaster Artist. Franco was given the Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Award at the 2018 Golden Globes and he brought Wiseau up on stage with him to accept the honor. However, when Wiseau tried to step up to the microphone to say a few words, he was promptly blocked by Franco, who pushed him to the side with a laugh in order to make his own speech. Ouch.

The "We Solved It" Song About Diversity at the Emmys

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Hollywood awards shows have been under fire in recent years for their lack of diversity and the 2018 Emmys decided to address the issue right off the bat. In the star-studded opening number, Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson led other performers in a musical skit that included Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, Black Panther), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Kristen Bell (The Good Place). Together, they joked as they sang "We Solved it," a cheeky play on the problematic issue at hand.

Many viewers found the entire opening embarrassing and not very funny, especially since the rest of the show proved just how much Hollywood hasn't "solved it" at all. A New York Times critic pointed out that the "first 10 awards, and 22 out of 26 overall" went to to white performers, directors, writers, and producers. Mike Hale wrote, "The tension and embarrassment in the Microsoft Theater were palpable when an African-American, Regina King, finally won, for best actress in a limited series in Netflix's Seven Seconds."

Below Average Joe's Comedy Routine Bombs on Queer Eye

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The first season of the Queer Eye reboot hit Netflix in February 2018 and one episode focused on a 33-year-old aspiring comedian named Joe, who goes by Below Average Joe. In the Fab Five's attempt to boost Joe's career, they took him to the local Legion meeting place to perform some of his jokes. Although Queer Eye guys Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness were there to cheer on their newfound friend, the older community members initially weren't so keen on the comedy set. And watching Joe's routine fall flat and completely bomb made viewers cringe.

Alec Baldwin Played Donald Trump While Feuding With Donald Trump

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Alec Baldwin dedicated much of 2018 to impersonating the president on Saturday Night Live. When Trump took to Twitter to criticize the actor's performance, Baldwin replied, "Agony though it may be, I'd like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride to Mara-A-Lago. You know. The good stuff. That we've all been waiting for." He followed that with a second tweet suggesting that Trump ask his wife, Melania, to stop calling Baldwin for tickets to the show. We're all still grimacing.

Basically Everything That Happened on Grace and Frankie

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Grace and Frankiestarring legends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, brought us so many wonderfully cringeworthy moments during its fourth season this year. Between Grace (Fonda) driving and crashing her electric shopping cart into a police car to Frankie (Tomlin) finding herself en route to Mexico with her grandchild, it's hard to imagine these two ladies getting themselves into situations that were any more outlandish. However, it may be the older women's sex toy business that really takes their amazing audaciousness right over the top. And for more ridiculous headlines from the year that was, check out the 50 Biggest Pop Culture Moments from 2018.

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Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more