Night Court: Four Things About the Series That Haven't Aged Well

I was a big fan of the show Night Court, when I was younger and have watched every episode of the series that ran from 1984 until 1992 at least once. Now that a reboot of the series is scheduled for next year, I decided to rewatch the original one more time and, while I have enjoyed it so far, like many sitcoms from the 80s and early 90s, there are some things that haven't aged well.

The casual sexual harassment. This comes into play quite a bit after Markie Post joined the cast in the third season as Christine Sullivan and becomes the object of affection both for Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson) and ADA Dan Fielding (John Larroquette) but there was some mixed in prior to that as well. Stone's repeated attempts at romantic relationships with the various women who worked in his courtroom were borderline sketchy on their own. Fielding's inappropriate comments and sexual advances are cringe worthy today.

The portrayal of prostitutes. Ah, the innocence of the 80s, when prostitutes in television shows and movies were almost always portrayed as women who wanted to have sex with men for money. Today, thanks to shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it's a lot more difficult to see them in that light, as compared to women (and usually children) who are often forced into that line of "work."

The portrayal of homeless people. Similar to the prostitutes, the homeless people who appear on this show are portrayed in a comical fashion and that is made OK by most of them seeming to be perfectly happy with their situations. The much more realistic drama series that are on TV today once again make that hard to look at in the same light.

The show's attitude about mental health. There are very few episodes of this series that don't have at least one courtroom visitor suffering from a mental health issue. Much like with homeless people, it is usually done in some sort of comical fashion (though, to be fair, Judge Stone always treats them with respect) plus Stone's own biological parents met in a mental institution and some of the later episodes introduce us to his father, Buddy (John Astin) and his issues. There are also some episodes that feature a character suffering from depression, only to have it not be that big of a deal. With mental health being talked about more and being taken more seriously, that's the kind of stuff that might not be as funny today.

At its core, Night Court is still a good show with quite a few funny moments and a cast of characters that are fun to watch. However, since many of the recurring jokes from the series centered around stereotypes and misbeliefs that might be considered offensive today, I'm not sure if it would have lasted 9 seasons had it not come out in the 80s. 

It'll be interesting to see what changes the reboot brings and if it will have nearly as much success.


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