9 Crazy Conspiracy Theories About TV Shows

NBC
NBC

Sometimes, devoted fans get a little carried away in their efforts to interpret their favorite shows, and become convinced that there's more to what they're seeing on TV. Here are nine wacky theories they've developed.

1. Bayside High is nothing more than Zack Morris' dream world.

Before Saved By The Bell was a staple of NBC's early '90s Saturday morning programming, it was an '80s Disney Channel teen sitcom called Good Morning Miss Bliss. After a 14-episode run, Good Morning, Miss Bliss was re-tooled and re-packaged for NBC. Some of the characters, including Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding, stayed on, while others—like Mikey, Nikki, Milo, and even the titular Miss Bliss—were cast aside for new faces. The setting was also changed from John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Indiana to Bayside High School in California. As a result, it is believed that Saved By The Bell is nothing more than an escapist fantasy of its main character, Zack Morris. 

On Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was, to put it nicely, kind of a dweeb. Girls weren't attracted to him, his classmates made fun of him, and Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills) was always on to his schemes. But when Zack made the jump to Saved By The Bell, he was magically transformed into the coolest guy in school. Because of this, some fans think that Zack manufactured his dream life in sunny southern California, creating a world in which all the girls want him, his peers idolize him, and he gets away with even his most ridiculous plans. 

According to the fans who subscribe to this theory, Saved By The Bell’s theme song perfectly illustrates Zack’s fantasy world. The lyrics describe his humdrum life (“By the time I grab my books/And I give myself a look/I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by”), suggesting he'll be okay once he’s saved by the bell—or when he enters his fantasy world.

2. The Count feeds on the children of Sesame Street.

Children's Television Workshop

Even more outrageous is the belief among some fans that Count von Count is a bloodsucking Muppet vampire who preys on the children of Sesame Street. The number-obsessed vampire lures kids to his lair under the guise of teaching them math, so he can feed on their youth. (According to this theory, the Count is why the children who hang out on Sesame Street are constantly replaced.) Apparently, Sesame Street's adult residents are in on the Count's dastardly scheme too, because in the decades he's been on the show, they've never made an effort to stop him. 

3. The Fresh Prince is Dead.

NBC

Some fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are convinced that Will was dead for the duration of the show's six-season run. Their theory fixates on the sitcom's opening theme song, which states that Will Smith was hanging out—chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool, if you will—when some guys who were "up to no good" came along. As the song goes, he got into one little fight and his mom got scared, then told him he'd have to move in with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. But what if Will never made it to Bel-Air, and instead, died in the fight? These fans believe it was God who drove the “rare” cab to take Will to the Banks’ mansion—in this case, Heaven—which he refers to as his "kingdom."

4. Toby is the real Scranton Strangler.

NBC

The last half of The Office’s nine-season run featured a subplot focused on HR rep Toby Flenderson’s (Paul Lieberstein) obsession with the Scranton Strangler, a local serial killer. The Scranton Strangler was first mentioned during season six, and was eventually caught after a long police standoff in season seven. Toby’s fascination with the serial killer only increased when he was picked to be a juror on his murder trial. Eventually, the Scranton Strangler was revealed to be a character named George Howard Skub; Toby and his fellow jurors were responsible for sending Skub to death row. During season nine, Toby is guilt-stricken when he admits that the jury might have sentenced the wrong man to die. He even visits Skub in prison, who immediately jumps to strangle Toby.

Some believe that Toby's extreme guilt is a sign that he is, in fact, the real Scranton Strangler. At that point on the show, they argue, he has nothing left to lose: his marriage has failed, he has a young daughter whom he rarely sees, his work life is shaky, and he is unable to make a go of it when he attempts to start a new life in Costa Rica. What's more, the Scranton Strangler isn't even mentioned until Toby returns to Pennsylvania. Skub, they allege, reacted so angrily to Toby's presence because he knows that Toby framed him. 

5. The U.S. Government Canceled Firefly.

FOX

Although it had a loyal fan base and was generally well-received by critics, Joss Whedon's sci-fi drama Firefly was canceled in 2002 after airing just 11 episodes. While Fox claims the decision to cancel Firefly was based purely on its low ratings, conspiracy theorists are convinced that the U.S. government had something to do with the demise of the "space opera." The show focuses on a group of independent outlaws who fight for civil rights under the oppressive and immoral Union of Allied Planets. According to the fans who subscribe to this theory, the powers that be weren't pleased with the anti-government sentiment expressed by the show. What's more, they point out, while the show was airing, the Bush administration was trying to build a case for the Iraq War; it's no coincidence that it was canceled just three months before the invasion of the Middle Eastern country. 

6. Gilligan’s Island is Hell.

CBS

Some theorists believe that the setting of Gilligan's Island is not an island, but rather Hell, and that its sinful inhabitants all perished in the crash of the S.S. Minnow. According to this theory, each character on Gilligan’s Island represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The millionaire Mr. Howell represents Greed, while his work-averse wife represents Sloth. Sexy movie star Ginger stands in for Lust, while innocent farm girl Mary Ann envies Ginger’s beauty and lifestyle. The smart Professor is prideful because he can't admit that he is unable to fix the ship or get them off the island. Skipper, meanwhile, symbolizes two deadly sins: Gluttony and Wrath, because he’s always taking something out on poor Gilligan. Not that you should feel bad for the titular dimwit; these fans believe that Gilligan represents Satan. He's constantly screwing up the group's plans for rescue, and what's more, he's always wearing red.  

7. The Flintstones Takes Place in a Post-Apocalyptic Future.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

 
This fan theory posits that the worlds inhabited by the Jetsons and the Flintstones exist concurrently. The Flintstones' civilization was "bombed back to the Stone Age" during a nuclear war, and its inhabitants were forced to start over. That's why the Flintstones use the materials (and animals) at their disposal to mimic modern technology (like when they use birds' beaks to play records). Why would cavemen from the prehistoric past need garbage disposals and record players, if not to replicate how their society once was? 

The Jetsons, for their part, live in Orbit City, a metropolis built entirely above the clouds. Ever wonder what’s below Orbit City? Many people believe that the civilization depicted on The Flintstones is happening down on Earth. In addition, some fans suspect that the only thing dividing the Jetson and the Flintstone families is income. The Jetsons can afford to live in the fancy new society above the clouds, while the working class Flintstones are forced to make do in the ruins of Earth.     

When you consider the time period during which both shows were created, this premise doesn't seem all that far-fetched. After all, both shows were developed at the height of the Cold War, during a time when Americans constantly feared a nuclear attack by Communist Russia.  

8. Jessica Fletcher Is a Serial Killer.

NBCUniversal

It’s believed that Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) on Murder, She Wrote is not just an author who writes mysteries, but is actually a serial killer who disguises herself as a novelist and amateur detective. How else could Jessica Fletcher, again and again, “randomly” stumble upon a dead body and later on, “figure out” who the murderer is? Consider, too, that Fletcher lives in the cozy coastal town of Cabot Cove, Maine, population 3,500. During the 12 years the show was on, 268 people were murdered, which would, statistically, make Cabot Cove the murder capital of the world. Either killers are flocking to the New England village, or Jessica Fletcher is a serial murderer whose gentle and pleasant British demeanor serves to throw people off her trail. 

9. Breaking Bad is a prequel to The Walking Dead.

AMC

Is Heisenburg’s blue crystal meth responsible for The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse? At the end of Breaking Bad, Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) blue meth is becoming more and more popular across the country, eventually making its way around the world. Some fans think that users die, only to rise again in zombie form. Those who subscribe to this theory point to the handful of Breaking Bad references on The Walking Dead

In season one, Glenn (Stephen Yeun) drives a red Dodge Challenger, which looks very similar to Walter White’s car. And when Walter White goes to return his Dodge on Breaking Bad, he takes it back to the dealership’s general manager, whose name is also Glenn.

In season two, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is trying to bring down T-Dog’s (IronE Singleton) injury-induced fever, so he pulls out his brother Merle's stash of drugs to see if anything in the plastic bag will do the trick. Pictured clearly at the bottom of the bag: blue crystal meth. Even more suspicious: before the zombie apocalypse, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) used to be a drug dealer. His supplier was described as “a janky little white guy” who threatened Merle with a gun and said, "I'm gonna kill you, bitch!" Sounds like Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to me.

11 Illuminating Facts About Netflix’s GLOW

Erica Parise, Netflix
Erica Parise, Netflix

GLOW is a brilliant show, and the way we know it’s brilliant is that it highlights a perfect tension between comedy and drama amid dozens of different personalities all trying to seriously find themselves in an activity no one takes seriously. Also, it had a drug-dispensing, '80s-style talking robot without devolving into pure silliness.

With Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin leading the ensemble, the show about an amateur women’s wrestling squad vying for a large enough paycheck to make all the training and ointment worth it is an absolute gem (as its six Emmy nominations prove). Here are 11 facts about Netflix’s comedic cage match.

1. PRODUCERS DIDN’T WANT ALISON BRIE IN THE CAST.

Alison Brie in 'GLOW'
Erica Parise, Netflix

Like her character, Ruth, Alison Brie got rejected a lot before getting the role, enduring a grueling casting process for producers and a casting director who wanted an unknown for the part. “I cried in my car after every audition,” she said. “I would sit in my care like Ruth and sob. And we were both listening to the same Ultimate ‘80s mix while [we] audition[ed], so Flock of Seagulls was playing.”

2. THE CAST’S TRAINER IS THE NEPHEW OF THE GUY WHO TRAINED THE REAL-LIFE GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING.

Professional wrestler Armando “Mando” Guerrero took on the task of teaching the motley crew of women who made up the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling back in 1985. He was reportedly an intense coach, putting at least one woman in a headlock until she cried on the first day of training. All these years later, it’s his nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr., who has the privilege of training the fictional wrestlers of GLOW, as well as choreographing their fights and acting in two episodes.

3. KIA STEVENS IS A WRESTLER IN REAL LIFE.

Kia Stevens and Betty Gilpin in 'GLOW'
Beth Dubber, Netflix

The cast is full of actresses who all work with trainers to catch up on all the chiropractor-defying moves they have to do, but Kia Stevens (who plays Tammé “The Welfare Queen” Dawson) has been making those moves for decades. Wrestling under the name Awesome Kong and Amazing Kong, she’s a five-time Women’s Champion. Stevens has also wrestled in the WWE as Kharma.

4. BRIE SEES RUTH AS “SEXLESS."

One of the catalysts of the show’s plot is Ruth having an affair with her best friend Debbie’s (Betty Gilpin) husband (Rich Sommer), but the rest of the show is hardly romantic for Ruth, which is probably why Brie views the character as “sexless.”

“I don’t think she thinks of herself as being very sexual,” Brie told The A.V. Club. “It’s a major difference between my character and Betty Gilpin’s character, who has been a successful actress and has a bombshell body, and every time you see her she’s in full hair and makeup ... I don’t think that Ruth is not having sex with guys every once in a while. I’m sure she does. I just don’t think it’s a main part of her life goals.” Even the adultery that kicks off the show is less about sex than it is about someone who feels invisible and rejected being seen and accepted by someone else.

5. WORKING WITH WOMEN BOSSES MADE BETTY GILPIN REFLECT ON HER ENTIRE CAREER.

Rich Sommer and Betty Gilpin in 'GLOW'
Erica Parise, Netflix

GLOW is rare for having so many women in the cast and behind the camera, something that the actors have noted affected the shooting environment as a “protected, feminist bubble.” For Gilpin, it also raised some questions about herself.

“Being on a set with female bosses [co-showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch], the level of comfort and bravery I felt really made me reflect back on my whole career," Gilpin told The Hollywood Reporter. "I’d always known about things that men did that made me shut down creatively, but I was surprised to reflect on things that I did to myself as a result of being in a male-dominated environment ... I felt a level of fear and anxiety that if I didn’t behave like the quiet Barbie I was playing, they wouldn’t let me play a quiet Barbie again."

6. IT ALSO MADE GILPIN FIGHT HARDER AGAINST THE MALE GAZE.

Since Gilpin doesn’t have a stunt double, and she’s doing the wrestling moves herself, GLOW has forced her to reexamine how she views her body while acting. Specifically, she’s gotten a lot less self-conscious and unshackled her movements from fear of the male gaze.

“The way we think about our bodies is completely changing,” Gilpin told The Huffington Post. Where she used to take workout classes designed to avoid bulking up, now she can lift some heavy weights. “I think that it’s our job to band together and say, ‘Okay, what are ways the male gaze has seeped into your brain and is affecting the way you treat yourself? Let’s work together to eliminate that.’”

7. THE SHOW CHANGED ONE IMPORTANT ELEMENT TO HOME IN ON THE CAMARADERIE.

Jackie Tohn, Jessica Gardner, Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson, Alison Brie, Kia Stevens, Kate Nash, Ellen Wong, Shakira Barrera, Brigid Ryan, Becki Dennis, Gayle Rankin in 'GLOW'
Erica Parise, Netflix

They fight in the ring, they fight outside of it, they lift each other up, they undercut each other. It’s all part of the show’s drama and grounded realness. It’s a family, and to develop that sensibility, GLOW borrowed from the conditions the real-life women trained under. That includes staying two-to-a-room at a shabby motel, but the show dropped the forced separation of the good wrestler from the heels (the villains) during travel that the real GLOW athletes experience. They also didn’t make the characters call each other by their wrestling names outside the ring.

8. BROOKE HOGAN MADE A CAMEO.

Hulk Hogan's daughter made a brief appearance as a theater owner who rents her space to the ragtag production. She’s not nearly the only person from the wrestling world to make a cameo appearance, either.

9. WORKING ON GLOW IS LIKE BOARDING SCHOOL.

Marianna Palka, Jackie Tohn, Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson, Kia Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Kate Nash, Ellen Wong, Shakira Barrera, Britney Young, Sunita Mani, and Gayle Rankin in 'GLOW'
Erica Parise, Netflix

Too often, shows have one spot in the cast for a woman. GLOW initially had 15. According to Gilpin, “I went to boarding school, and being on GLOW reminds me of that. When your call is 5:45 a.m., and there’s a group of 14 women all talking at once, it can be a little much, but it’s also the greatest gift. It’s constant happiness and support all day, every day. I love it.”

10. THE MATCH BASH RECALLS SEEING IN SEASON 2 IS REAL.

There’s a moment in season 2 where Bash (Chris Lowell) described a personal memory of watching a match between Stan Hansen and Bruno Sammartino where the former busted the latter’s neck. The match is real. So is the injury.

At Madison Square Garden, on April 26, 1976, Sammartino was defending his world title against Hansen when Hansen failed to properly execute a body slam and cracked one of Sammartino’s vertebrae. They were back in the ring two months later in a rematch.

11. THE SERIES WILL BE COMING BACK FOR A THIRD SEASON.

On August 20, 2018—more than two months after GLOW's second season dropped on Netflix—entertainment outlets began reporting that the series had officially been renewed by Netflix for a third season. The decision may not have been an easy one to make, however; as Variety reported: "Industry sources claim that the series is not among Netflix’s most watched, but is valued by the streaming service for its creative execution and status as an awards contender."

GIPHY Is Launching the World's First All-GIF Film Festival

iStock
iStock

Think you’re a GIF master? GIPHY is looking to showcase the best in extremely short films with what it calls the world’s first GIF-only film festival, according to It’s Nice That. The GIF database and search engine company is teaming up with Squarespace to launch a contest dedicated to finding the best GIF-makers in America—the GIPHY Film Fest.

To enter your work for consideration in the festival, you’ll need an 18-second-or-less, looping film that tells a “compelling, creative, entertaining, professional-grade story,” according to the contest details. U.S.-based GIF artists can enter up to three mini-films in each of five categories: Narrative, Stop-Motion, Animated, Experimental, and Wild Card/Other. The films can have music (as long as you have the rights to use it) or be silent. All that matters is that they're between one and 18 seconds long.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, a five-year subscription to Squarespace (to host that amazing GIF on your website), and the chance to guest-curate an official Spotify playlist. All entries will be judged by a panel of professionals from across several creative industries, including film, animation, illustration, and design.

The GIPHY Film Fest is not the first uber-short film festival in existence. In 2013 and 2014, back when Vine still existed (RIP), the Tribeca Film Festival held a competition each year to find the best six-second films—a time limit that will make 18 seconds feel practically feature length.

Enter GIPHY’s contest here before the entry window closes on September 27, 2018. The winner will be announced on November 8, during a special New York City screening of each of the top films in each category.

[h/t It’s Nice That]

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