If it’s possible for a television episode to become an urban legend, then this episode of the cheesy sitcom Too Close For Comfort is one of TV’s great urban legends. The show was an adaptation of a Brian Cooke sitcom, greenlit after the US adaptation of Man About the House (Three’s Company) became so big. When ABC canceled it, it became one of the first US sitcoms to produce episodes directly for syndication, and it was for syndication that the episode “For Every Man, There’s Too Women” was produced. It definitely aired, and people remembered seeing it, but there were rumours that it was “banned,” and it’s possible it was pulled from some of the daily syndicated runs.
The episode was about Monroe (Jim Jay Bullock) getting raped by two women. And though it seemed to be sort of trying to be a serious issue episode, it was really more of a cheesy, wacky, cheaply produced sitcom episode with the creepy empty-room, soap-opera style of shooting, and what mostly sounds like a laugh track rather than an audience. In other words, a typical ’80s syndicated sitcom episode that doesn’t realize it’s insane. (It wasn’t like the Diff’rent Strokes child molester episode, whose combination of Very Special lessons and tasteless comedy was clearly intentional; this episode doesn’t seem to have any idea of what it’s doing.) The combination of subject and execution made the whole thing extremely weird, even by the standards of the ’80s syndicated sitcom that gave us robot girls in French maid outfits and Scott Baio working as a nanny in the same house for two completely different families.
Anyway, a few years ago, over twenty years after the thing aired, there was a minor meme online about whether the episode existed, with people vaguely remembering that they saw the episode but not quite sure any real episode could possibly fit that description. Finally some U.S. channel reran it a week or so ago, and someone uploaded it to YouTube in two parts. So here it is. The credited writer, Bill Davenport, was a veteran whose regular gigs included All in the Family, Maude, Hogan’s Heroes and Ozzie and Harriet. I don’t know much about him but I’d be inclined to guess this wasn’t his personal favourite script.
Part two, in which we meet the two women of the title, one of whom appears to be a man in drag.
And here’s a video made a few years ago about the cult surrounding the episode, playing its existence, and our repressed memories of it, as part of a massive conspiracy.