TV's 14 Most Uncomfortable Moments, 2013 (Thanks 'Girls,' 'Mad Men,' and More!)
At some point earlier this year, the people behind some of our favorite TV shows came together and decided to make their audiences as uncomfortable as possible. As if real life wasn't already awkward enough, series had to become even more realistic and include the kind of moments that make you physically cringe and look away from the TV screen.
We're not just talking about awkward sex scenes — though there were plenty of those this year. No, this is a collection of those scenes that were physically uncomfortable to watch. Because, hey, you have to confront them one more time before you can officially move on.
Whether these 14 moments made you laugh, cry, or change the channel, it's time to look back at the most awkward, uncomfortable, cringe-worthy, unnerving, just overall hard-to-watch scenes from 2013. Bustle is not liable for any emotional damage or future therapy costs.
Sally and the Burglar, 'Mad Men'
Sally Draper went through a lot this season on Mad Men. We thought things couldn't get worse than when she got her period on a date with creepy Glen, or walked in on her step-grandma performing oral sex on Roger Sterling in 2012. But, wow, did 2013 have a lot in store for her.
In "The Crash," Sally is babysitting her brothers alone in Don's apartment when an old woman pretending to be her grandma Ida basically holds her hostage while robbing the place. She also cooks the most sinister plate of scrambled eggs ever seen on TV. It was obviously uncomfortable for Sally, who had to deal with an intruder and the realization that she knows nothing about her own father, but also for the audience, who watched a girl trying so hard to be grown up be completely taken advantage of by a creepily friendly burglar.
Pete's Run-In with his Father-In-Law, 'Mad Men'
Sometimes just setting Pete Campbell's face makes you uncomfortable, so when he's put in a horrendously awkward situation, it's truly upsetting. "For Immediate Release" may have been a game-changing episode, as it includes the merger of SCDP and rival CGC, but it's most memorable for the scene when Pete sees his father-in-law in a brothel.
The scene from "To Have and To Hold" when Megan's soap opera bosses try to get her and Don to have group sex with them might be a close runner-up, but the sight of a) Campbell in a brothel, b) the dad from Clarissa Explains It All in a brothel, and c) the fact that they're father and son-in-law make this the worst of Season 6's most uncomfortable moments. Also, Bob Benson was there, so, you know, automatic unease.
Pam Cries to Boom Mic Brian, 'The Office'
Now that The Office is over, we can look back at its best moments and seasons fondly, but let's not forget the, um, speed bumps, it encountered in its last season. When Pam cries at her desk and the infatuated boom mic guy comforts her, it proved to be too much for fans of Jim and Pam, the newly troubled couple at the heart of the show. What should've been an amazing reveal (the documentary crew that chronicled Dunder Mifflin for nine seasons) translated instead into an emotional mess — couldn't we go back to the glory days of Jim and Pam Seasons 1-5?
Young Cora & Rumpelstiltskin Weave Together, 'Once Upon A Time'
Yes, even a show about fairy tales can make you so uncomfortable, you have to physically turn away from the television and actively think about something else. No offense to Robert Carlyle, but his performance as gold-skinned, fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin is almost unbearably creepy. So, needless to say, when a gold-weaving session between him and Cora gets... sensual, it's awkward. Leave the Ghost moments to Patrick Swayze.
Reanimated Kyle and His Mother, 'American Horror Story: Coven'
This entire list could easily have been made up of every single scene in American Horror Story: Coven. And though there were plenty of upsetting moments in "The Replacements," the worst occurred when the series shows Kyle's mom taking care of her re-animated son... by molesting him. The moment, in which we realized Kyle's mom wasn't the sweet, tragic character she appeared to be, was more disturbing than any horror story we're aware of.
Marnie Sings "Stronger," 'Girls'
The penultimate episode of Girls' second season, "On All Fours," was disturbing for so many reasons. Hannah's resurfaced OCD makes her stick a Q-tip way too far into her ear, Adam and his girlfriend Natalia take part in an extremely controversial sex scene, Shoshanna and Ray work on their already-dead relationship, and Marnie sings "Stronger" by Kanye West. To a crowded party. Held by her ex-boyfriend. Yeah, awkward.
Most of "Ozymandias," 'Breaking Bad'
Is "Ozymandias" one of the greatest episodes of television ever made? Absolutely. Were parts of it also really uncomfortable and upsetting? Of course. From the first few minutes of the episode — which reveals Hank's death and Walt's confession about Jane to Jesse in rapid fire succession — to Walt's knife-wielding domestic dispute with Skyler and Walt, Jr., the entire hour was as upsetting as, well, an episode of Breaking Bad. The only thing that could've made "Ozymandias" harder to watch? If sociopath Todd tried to flirt with Lydia — luckily we were spared from seeing that until the following episode.
Manny Draws Naked Women, 'Modern Family'
Usually, Modern Family is an enjoyable, lighthearted comedy, but the series also has the tendency to over-develop its characters. In Season 4's "Best Men," Manny, who's always a little too mature when it comes to love, gets in trouble at school for drawing and sculpting female nudes during art class. (Jay assumes Gloria's breast-feeding is responsible, but, instead, Manny is simply crushing on the hired help.) When the episode ends with the 12-year-old trying to lure his brother's nanny into a creepy, candle-lit dinner, it's easy to wish Modern Family let Manny grow up before handing him a grown-up storyline.
No Dan Harmon, 'Community'
If there was one TV show that let fans down in 2013, it was Community. Really, it was NBC and Sony's fault, who took advantage of fans' excitement over renewing the show for a fourth season by dropping the news that they were firing series creator and showrunner Dan Harmon.
While there was still potential, the season just missed its mark — it was too uncomfortable to watch an amazing, smart show flounder without its leader. And it was even more uncomfortable to watch Troy and Britta as a couple. Now that Harmon is coming back for Season 5, we're hoping Community will go from hard-to-watch awkward to its usual, amazing awkward humor.
PTSD and a Playground Accident, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
It's Always Sunny took a dark turn this season: In "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare," the gang tries to scam Ben the solider by triggering his PTSD, which, of course, meant breaking into his house with night vision goggles and pretending to be terrorists. Uncomfortable, yes... but not nearly as uncomfortable as Danny DeVito's Frank throughout the episode. Just look left.
Ted Still Loves Robin, 'How I Met Your Mother'
Dammit Ted! You make this show both frustrating and uncomfortable. At the end of the eighth season, Barney and Robin are finally engaged after years of flash-forwards that had some pretty heavy hints. Those of us who stuck with the show this long were relieved — Barney and Robin could finally be happy, Ted could finally meet the mother, and the show would finally end.
Then came "Something Old." While helping Robin look for the locket she wanted to wear to her wedding, Ted realized that he's still in love with her. And now, with the final season taking place over Barney and Robin's wedding weekend, it's a whole season of Ted awkwardly pining for his best friend's fiancée, who we've known for nine years he doesn't end up with. It's uncomfortable, awkward, and more importantly, boring.
Jenna's Surprise Party, 'Awkward'
The show is called Awkward for a reason, and one episode this season really set a new standard for just how uncomfortable MTV's high school comedy could get. In "Surprise!" it's revealed that Jenna is cheating on her boyfriend Matty with Collin... when she walks into a room filled with her friends and family for a surprise birthday party while making out with him. Yikes.
The Other Wedding, 'Game of Thrones'
For many Game of Thrones fans, "The Rains of Castamere," featuring the infamous red wedding, was impossible to watch, but more for sadness, shock, and outrage than discomfort. The other wedding this season was a different story. Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark's bedding scene? Forget something borrowed and something blue — that was something downright unpleasant.
Helena Makes a Friend, 'Orphan Black'
Of all the clones on Orphan Black, Helena has the distinct honor of being the one to make viewers cringe. Especially in "Effects of External Conditions," when she runs from a violent encounter with Sarah to a stranger's home, where she invites a young boy into into the bathroom while mending her bloody wounds. Weird, yes, but the fact that we still don't know what exactly happened in that bathroom? Shudder.