Hulu is currently streaming the “lost” episode of Married With Children that was so racy at the time of its original slated Fox premiere in 1989 that it was never properly aired until 2002. The version that aired in 2002 was still subject to censorship even though the episode was released everywhere else in the world. Though the episode “I’ll See You In Court” is considered to be pretty tame by today’s standards, it was the subject of controversy back in the late 80s after another Season 3 episode inspired a boycott.
The full unedited Married with Children episode can be seen in all of its perverse glory on physical media, as well as Hulu at the time of this writing.
So what happened in this lost Married With Children episode that caused it to get pulled from broadcasting in the US? On January 15, 1989, another Season 3 episode aired called “Her Cups Runneth Over.” This episode centered on the subject of Peggy’s breasts, and Al’s noble quest to find her favorite discontinued bra at a lingerie store.
“Her Cups Runneth Over” is one of the reasons we didn’t get to see “I’ll See You In Court” as intended a month later.
As you would expect, there’s plenty of ogling and breast-based humor that upset some people. Well, it upset one person in particular: Michigan housewife and “family values” activist Terry Rakolta. Rakolta found the episode to be so offensive that she started a letter-writing campaign to Married With Children’s sponsors, which was successful to some degree.
Rakolta’s campaign against Married With Children was successful in the sense that sponsors did withdraw their sponsorship from Fox, forcing the network to push the series to a later time slot that was meant for a more mature audience.
But her campaign also backfired because the news stories about the boycott piqued the interest of curious viewers, and actually spiked the show’s ratings substantially. This ratings spike helped Married With Children become a hit, which was instrumental in the Fox network’s rise to popularity.
But still, everything happened so quickly that Fox didn’t want to take any chances by releasing “I’ll See You In Court.” We’re talking about the timeline of a couple of months, and with ad revenue on the line, Fox ultimately made the right move by banning the Married With Children episode.
In other words, “Her Cups Runneth Over” is one of the reasons we didn’t get to see “I’ll See You In Court” as intended a month later.
Why Was The Lost Episode Controversial?
The premise for the lost episode of Married With Children involves Al and Peggy Bundy, as well as their neighbors Marcy and Steve Rhoads, becoming the subject of voyeurism. When Al and Peggy try to spice up their sex life by having a fling at the Hop-On-Inn motel, they discover that the sex tape that was meant to inspire their romantic tryst was a video of Marcy and Steve being intimate at the same motel.
When the Bundys bring the tape to the Rhoads’ attention, the Rhoads suggest that the motel owner probably recorded them too.
Though Marcy and Al suggest taking matters into their own hands by resorting to violence against the Hop-On-Inn owners, Steve and Peggy resolve to take the matter to court so they can cash in on the incident. In the classic Married With Children fashion, Al is humiliated by his sexual performance when the tapes are played in court, and the Rhoads are given a $10,000 settlement.
If you didn’t watch Married With Children during its original run but rather were introduced to the series through streaming, you’d have no reason to believe that “I’ll See You In Court” was so controversial that it was banned in the first place.
Not only is the episode pretty tame, but it’s pretty by the numbers when you look at the series’ 259-episode run as a whole. But when a network’s bottom line is threatened by a boycott, sometimes pulling an episode for posterity is the right move to make.
Thankfully, in 2023, we can just watch the problematic episode on Hulu.