Honestly, what would the world do without television? Want to feel all the emotions? Turn on This Is Us. Want to watch the drama unfold in a hospital? Grey’s Anatomy is for you. And when you want a laugh, there are certain shows that can get the job done, with plenty of uncomfortable scenes to make you cringe and giggle all at the same time. Usually, that bumbling embarrassment is on purpose, but that’s not always the case.
The thing is, sometimes there are scenes that aren’t meant to be funny, but totally are. Whether it’s a flimsy plot point or just awkward acting, some of the most uncomfortable scenes in TV really weren’t actually meant to be uncomfortable. But that’s kind of what makes them so great. And as for the ones that were meant to be uncomfortable, well, they’re still something to see, too. So, if you want to tense up your entire body from second-hand embarrassment, read on for the most uncomfortable scenes in TV, and be prepared to laugh or cringe or both.
When Phoebe and Chandler kissed on Friends, it was so cringe-worthy
Even though Friends ended its ten-season run in 2004, the sitcom had already cemented itself as one of the most iconic and hilarious shows in TV history. Jokes from the series are still repeated to this day, and the actors behind the characters are still friends in real life, which makes it all that much more real. So, in the episode “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” in Season 5, when longtime friends Phoebe and Chandler kiss, things get seriously uncomfortable.
In the episode, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe have all discovered that Monica and Chandler are hooking up in secret. But because Monica and Chandler won’t admit to it, the three other friends try to force them into a confession by having Phoebe seduce Chandler. It all comes to a head when Phoebe and Chandler are having wine at Chandler’s apartment, both trying to get the other one to crack, and they end up sharing the most awkward kiss in television history. It was forced, shaky, and seriously hard to watch. The two had such a solid friendship and absolutely no sexual tension, and that’s what made it so uncomfortable.
The Office's "Scott's Tots" episode is infamous
The U.S. version of The Office cemented Steve Carell’s position in the comedy hall of fame with his hilarious and cringe-worthy performance as Michael Scott, especially in Season 6’s “Scott’s Tots.” The episode centers on Scott’s promise from ten years ago to provide free college tuition to a group of third graders.
As he is soon reminded, ten years have gone by and Scott is nowhere near as rich as he assumed he would be. So, Scott goes to the class who are all grown up and about to graduate high school where he is praised and hailed as a hero for helping them pay for college. The teens even perform a song they wrote for him with the line, “Hey, Mr. Scott! Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do? Make our dreams come true!” all the while Scott knows he cannot, in fact, make their dreams come true. He eventually breaks the news, and it’s every bit as hard to watch as you would imagine. In fact, “Scott’s Tots” has such a reputation for being awkward that psychologists have unpacked the episode, as Bustle reported, and acknowledged that the intense discomfort in the episode makes some people skip it entirely. Yikes.
Remember when Sex and the City's Carrie and Big got caught having an affair?
Though Sex and the City might be long over and its cast completely moved on, the show still has some merit and is fun to watch. Yes, it’s outdated in areas, but it’s also pretty relatable, especially when it comes to relationships. And though Carrie Bradshaw might have had plenty of memorable relationship hijinks and uncomfortable moments, nothing beats how the scene where she hurts someone in more ways than one.
The Season 3 episode “Running with Scissors” sees Carrie get herself into a real pickle when her affair with Big is revealed to the last person you would want such a thing revealed to — his wife. Big’s wife, Natasha, catches Carrie trying to sneak out of their apartment and yells at them because she knew what was happening and now she has proof. However, Carrie ends up running from her and Natasha ends up tripping down the stairs, getting seriously injured and forcing Carrie to get her to the hospital. It was seriously uncomfortable, especially because it showed just how deeply flawed of a character Carrie was.
Blair and Dan had no chemistry in Gossip Girl
It’s no secret that Gossip Girl was known for being a pretty controversial series. From affairs to overdoses to royal scandals, the show had everything going for it. But when Dan and Blair, who were polar opposites, got together, it was seriously cringe-worthy. Not only was the coupling completely awkward and just not well thought out by the show’s writers, but one scene, in particular, made it clear that Blair and Dan had no chemistry.
When Dan and Blair share their first kiss in Season 4, there is seriously no spark. It feels like two friends who were dared to lock lips, and it’s hard to watch. Really, the only thing Blair and Dan had in common was that they were both pretentious. In fact, they literally had their “coming out” as a couple with a fancy, unentertaining Salon party, which just further proved that the two were so not meant to be. At the end of the day, the two appeared as though they were only together to prove some kind of the point, which they failed at. Miserably.
Rusty trying to ask out a girl at Comic Con in Greek was uncomfortable to watch
Part of the charm of the ABC Family series Greek was that the main character Rusty Cartwright was seriously dorky and awkward. In fact, the premise relies a lot on Rusty’s nerd identity merging with his fraternity brothers and all the chaos that ensues. But still, nothing could quite prepare viewers for the full-body cringe-fest that occurred when Rusty tried to ask out a girl at Comic Con.
Yes, the girl was in some sort of costume that required her entire body to be painted green, but that wasn’t the awkward part. The awkward part came as soon as Rusty started talking. He didn’t even know this girl’s last name, and he was already talking about beginning in a relationship, meeting friends and family, and practically starting a life together. He mumbled through the conversation, and it was one of the hardest scenes in the show. And for a series that included a literal underwear fun-run, that’s saying something.
Who could forget Sheldon and Amy's first kiss on The Big Bang Theory?
As socially awkward as Sheldon Cooper was on The Big Bang Theory, he was also adorably lovable. For all of Sheldon’s quirks, nothing was quite as cute as his affection towards Amy Farrah Fowler, his first real girlfriend and eventual wife. The two had some ups and downs throughout their relationship, but their biggest roadblock definitely seemed to be that Sheldon was not fond of displays of affection, especially public displays of affection, while Amy was constantly looking for some intimacy.
So, when the two finally shared a passionate lip lock on a train on Valentine’s Day, it was sweet, yes. But this was also Sheldon’s first real kiss, so it was also a bit uncomfortable. The way he leaned into her, the way they didn’t really move much beyond a long peck, how shocked Amy was to be on the receiving end of such an intimate moment — it was all pretty cringe-worthy. But, like most things on The Big Bang Theory, it was also ridiculously charming.
On Riverdale, the "Jail House Rock" scene was so weird
Oh, Riverdale. The CW series adapted from the iconic Archie comics has so much going for it. Stellar actors both playing the roles of the teens and the parents on the show, murder, cults, mobs… there truly is never a dull moment on the series. And that’s kind of what makes it so ridiculous. The plot points on the show rarely make sense, yet people love it. In particular, when young Archie is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, his girlfriend, Veronica (played by Camila Mendes), gathers the entire cheer squad to come to perform a song for him and his inmates.
Yes, really. And what makes the whole thing even more uncomfortable? They sing and dance to “Jail House Rock,” at a literal jail. It’s seriously weird, was so unnecessary, and just helped make the series even more laughable than it already was. Archie was going through a seriously rough time, getting beat up in jail constantly, and Veronica thought singing him a song would make it better? This scene was truly the epitome of second-hand embarrassment in Riverdale, that’s for sure.
This one Parks and Recreation episode is seriously awkward
Amy Poehler truly made her mark starring as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation. Leslie was an overachiever and a government fanatic who never gave up. But in the Season 2 episode “Sister City,” viewers saw Leslie arrange a visit from the Parks Department officials in Pawnee’s sister city, Baragua, Venezuela, and it was a total cringe-fest. Like all Parks and Recreation episodes, there is plenty of laughter, but, due to the Venezuelan officials’ blatant disgust for Pawnee, it’s also pretty awkward.
The entire episode is obviously hilarious, but perhaps no scene was quite as uncomfortable as when Leslie is driving the three Venezuelan officials to their hotel in her car. They are all jammed together in the back seat, and they make it clear that they aren’t happy there in Pawnee. Raul even tells Leslie he has much more comfort in Venezuela, including 14,000 television channels. Then, he makes it clear that he has no interest in her, but in the “large Black woman,” otherwise known as Donna. Yep, it’s about as awkward as you can get.
When Van jumps into his mother-in-law's bed in Reba, it was hard to watch
The early 2000s sitcom Reba was truly a hilarious series. The show didn’t nearly get as much recognition as other sitcoms of the same time, but country music star Reba McEntire really shone in the series. The show focused on Reba, a single mom who works too hard as the theme song states, and her three kids. Reba’s oldest daughter, Cheyenne, gets pregnant and married all in the first episode. Cheyenne’s husband, Van, quickly becomes a staple in the series, and one Season 4 episode truly captured just how hilarious and awkward he was.
At the beginning of the episode, Van comes home from a night out with his friends and is clearly intoxicated. He quickly strips down and jumps into bed, expecting to get a little lovin’ from his wife, when it’s revealed that he was so drunk that he went into the wrong bedroom and jumped into bed with his mother-in-law, Reba. It was pretty uncomfortable to watch since Reba and Van were practically mother and son, but also hilarious as Van was so embarrassed by what he did.
The "Broath" episode of How I Met Your Mother was awkward
Even though How I Met Your Mother was full of practical jokes, long-winded stories, and plenty of misadventures, when the series started winding down towards the second-half, the stakes got even higher. In particular, in one scene, there are on-screen kisses that seriously are so uncomfortable to watch.
In the Season 7 episode “The Broath,” Barney tricks all of his friends into taking a bro oath, or a broath in order to understand why he is moving so quickly with his new girlfriend, Quinn. During his trick, he forces Robin and Lily to lock lips, and things get off to a weird start when Lily is way more into the smooch than Robin is. Then Barney turns to Ted and Marshall to presumably ask them to do the same. They immediately refuse, but soon give in. The result is uncomfortable to watch, as the two friends are so not into it, with Ted telling Marshall not to touch him, and their kiss is seriously awkward. And then Barney admits he only wanted them to “bump fists,” so the weird kiss was unnecessary anyway.
Kate discovering this secret in Workin' Moms was too heartbreaking to watch
The Canadian original series Workin’ Moms seriously knows how to get at the heart of big issues while also making you crack up all in the same scene. But because the show also tackles such big issues as breastfeeding, sexuality, and the hard choices mothers have to make every day, there are some scenes that are just plain awkward. And the scene in which Kate’s life is changed is one of those moments.
In the Season 2 finale, “Look Back,” Kate is enjoying herself at Anne and Lionel’s commitment ceremony, which was a seriously sweet and heartwarming moment. But soon, Kate stumbles upon Anne’s nanny, who is referred to as “Mean Nanny,” kissing her husband in a manner that made it clear it wasn’t their first romantic encounter. It was a heartbreaking moment, and not only was it sad to watch, but it was uncomfortable to see Mean Nanny and Nathan being so intimate. After all, their affair was truly unforeseen by just about everyone, so to see it in action was quite startling.
This "Dinner Party" scene in The Office is a classic cringe moment
As if The Office didn’t provide enough laughs as it was, the relationship between Michael Scott and Jan Levinson was seriously laughable. The two started out as forbidden lovers, but quickly escalated into a hot mess of an unhealthy relationship. And the Season 4 episode “Dinner Party” really came through with a new kind of second-hand embarrassment for viewers at home. Specifically, the scene where Michael proudly shows off his plasma-screen television, which is about the size of a laptop.
The entire episode is infamous for being cringe-worthy, but that particular moment showcased just how truly unhappy Michael and Jan were as a couple, and it was pretty freaking uncomfortable. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, explained how hard it was to film. “We couldn’t get through it,” she said of the scene. “The biggest one was when he’s showing us his flatscreen television. And it’s so tiny. We laughed so hard, like, tears were streaming down our faces.” Yes, the scene was so awkward that even the actors filming it couldn’t help but crack up at the ridiculousness of it all.
This Glee musical number was hard to sit through
As much of a musically-focused show as Glee was, there was also plenty of drama and comedic moments. However, one of those comedic moments was more awkward than it was silly and had viewers questioning whether or not the show had crossed some kind of line with its musical number (via Entertainment Weekly). Sure, the singing was great, but it pretty much always was on Glee. What set this scene apart, though, was the dance moves and the message behind the song they chose.
In Season 1, members of the Glee club performed their version of “Push It,” and, uh, they definitely pushed it. The song was more than just cringe-worthy, as it gave anyone who was watching it the worst kind of goosebumps. The awkward teenagers trying to be sexy, the hideous outfits, and the strange facial expressions all served to make this scene one of Glee’s worst and most uncomfortable. And while the show did a lot of questionable musical performances, “Push It” will go down in history as the most embarrassing.
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