Very special episode

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2024-02-12 01:00:06

"Very special episode" is an advertising term originally used in American television promos to refer to an episode of a sitcom or drama series which deals with a difficult or controversial social issue.[1] The usage of the term peaked in the 1980s.[2][3]

Traditionally, very special episodes contained either a brief message from the cast or a title card reading either "Viewer Discretion Advised" or "Parental Discretion Advised", alerting viewers to the potentially graphic or disturbing nature of the episode and giving them time to decide if they wanted to watch it.[4]

Popular topics covered in very special episodes include abortion, birth control, sex education, racism, sexism, death, narcotics, pregnancy (particularly teenage pregnancy and unintended pregnancy), asthma, hitchhiking, kidnapping, suicide, drunk driving, drug use, sexual abuse, child abuse, child abandonment, sexual assault, violence, cults and HIV/AIDS.[3][5][6][7][8][9]

How a topic is portrayed can vary drastically from show to show, and its portrayal is influenced by a number of factors, including the personal beliefs of those involved in the show, advertising concerns, cultural attitudes, and the show's format, genre, and broadcasting company.[6][7][8] The Atlantic summarizes the core values of a very special episode as thus:

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