14 Movies And TV Shows That Glamorized, What I Feel, Were Acts Of Evil

·7 min read

Content warning: This post contains mentions of rape, suicide, and abuse.

Although most movies and TV series tell a fictional story, the impact they have on our society is quite real and tangible. Therefore, it becomes quite imperative for the creators to be careful when portraying acts or people that are undoubtedly and unanimously described as evil.

the hollywood sign on a summer day
the hollywood sign on a summer day

Giphy / Via media.giphy.com

Here I present 14 movies and TV shows that I felt were guilty of glamorizing or glorifying evil, and led many impressionable viewers to believe that such acts are totally fine and even cute.

1.The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio in a room full of people clapping for him

This 2013 Martin Scorsese behemoth starring Leonardo DiCaprio was a darling of the critics, won many awards, and got Academy Award nominations as well. The movie also made headlines for a surplus of profanity. The movie unabashedly glamorized the use of hard drugs and conning your clients. The movie also made light of sexual assault when DiCaprio's character recalls his harassment of stewardesses on a flight. In an ironic twist, one of the producers of the movie was arrested for money laundering.

Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Sixteen Candles

Michael Schoeffling and Molly Ringwald smile

This iconic 1984 teen rom-com is a much-beloved movie that is lauded even today for its sentimental tale of high school romance. Unfortunately, this sweet tale becomes bitter once you realize that the subplot of a drunk and passed-out Caroline being handed around is actually quite sick and painful as it is plain sexual assault.

What makes this even more shocking is that the man responsible for this detestable treatment of Caroline is none other than her boyfriend Jake Ryan! Despite subjecting her to this depravity, the movie portrays Ryan as a popular, dynamic, super-handsome, super-cool ideal boyfriend material that every girl fantasizes about.

Mca / ©MCA/Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Wild Things

Matt Dillon and Denise Richards look at someone

This erotic thriller is best remembered for its scene of Denise Richards emerging from a swimming pool and patting herself dry. And it's her character that's central to the movie's glamorization of having an affair with one's high school teacher (who is a manipulative predator). The movie shows that if done discreetly, sleeping with your teacher can be adventurous, hot, and enriching.

Columbia Pictures / ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection


Sydney Sweeney looks in surprise

The hit HBO show has consistently been dogged by concerns about its portrayal of drug abuse by teenagers, which some feel glamorizes the use of drugs. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, also known as DARE, is a vocal critic of the series and said in a statement, "...Euphoria chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world."

Although the TV series does show the negative effects of drug abuse, most of the portrayal makes it seem as if it's normal for teenagers to do drugs excessively.



6.The Gold

three men look at a huge pile of gold

This 2023 British TV series, based on the 1983 Brink’s-Mat heist in London, is a 24-carat hit that was applauded by critics as well as viewers. The series follows the robbery of 300 kg of gold (it really happened) and its aftermath where the cops try to catch the perpetrators while the latter try to launder the gold. It is an absorbing and thrilling watch.

The series suffers from the glamorization (and justification) of its villains, especially the main antagonist, Kenneth Noye. The series portrays them as benign, slick, family-loving underdogs fighting against the class system of British society and trying to stick it to the snobs. Noye, who is a real-life nasty piece of work, is infamous for murdering a cop and later murdering a 21-year-old man.



8.Saved by the Bell


Hugh Laurie holds a knife

This quick-paced medical drama was loved by medical as well as general audiences and, speaking from personal experience, was (is) a hit with many medical students all over the world. Unlike other medical dramas (*cough* Grey's Anatomy *cough*), it stood out for its equal emphasis on the medical aspect and the drama in the lives of its characters.

But the show was guilty of glamorizing toxic and unprofessional behavior at the workplace by its eponymous lead, Dr. Gregory House. House was depicted as the sharp, quirky, unconventional but flawed genius who can get away with almost everything because he is just so good at his job. He makes sexist comments in the faces of his female colleagues, forces his co-workers to break into the houses of his patients, asks his residents to bring him the panties of the hospital's dean, and similar atrocious behavior.

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Evan Peters in a courtroom

The super-hit Netflix miniseries has received oodles of flak for its pre-eminent role in popularizing the eponymous monster. It has bestowed a degree of fame and sympathy for Dahmer that would otherwise not have been possible. Some viewers were so impressed by Evan Peters's portrayal that demand for Dahmer Halloween costumes grew, and eBay was forced to remove costumes directly associated with Dahmer’s name or bearing his likeness.


11.Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Zac Efron winks

Even more problematic was Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile which was based on the Ted Bundy murders. Bundy was presented as a charismatic, cool, and caring guy who was trying to lead a normal life with his girlfriend.

A university professor was horrified when one of his female students expressed admiration for Zac Efron's Bundy. He recalled, "She was willing to overlook the appalling violence because Efron — and this was also true of Bundy — was a charismatic and attractive person. I was left wondering if the glamorization of offenders through true crime was making people desensitized to the plight of victims."


12.13 Reasons Why

Katherine Langford chats with a boy while sitting on a bed

Another culprit from Netflix. This TV series unintentionally ended up glamorizing suicide, especially as a unique, attention-grabbing way to seek revenge on those who wronged you. Researchers were alarmed to see that there was an upsurge in Google searches for "how to commit suicide," "commit suicide," and "how to kill yourself." Not to mention, "suicide search trends are correlated with actual suicides," which is a scary fact.

Beth Dubber / ©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

13.While You Were Sleeping

Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman talk standing in front of a hospital bed on which a patient is lying

This 1995 rom-com features Sandra Bullock as Lucy Moderatz, a token collector for the Chicago Transit Authority who spends her days fantasizing about a handsome commuter she sees every day while at work. A dreadful series of events causes her crush to become comatose, and she takes him to the hospital where she's mistaken by the nurse as the patient's fiancée.

The troubling part starts after this, as not only does Lucy not come clean to her crush's family but gaslights her crush into believing that she's actually his fiancée when he wakes up. If such deception wasn't enough, she falls in love with her crush's brother and keeps up this pretense all the way to the wedding altar when she finally confesses who she is and who she has feelings for.

Buena Vista Pictures / Everett Collection


Kurt Russel talks to Goldie Hawn

Starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Overboard has a very similar premise as While You Were Sleeping except that the roles have been reversed. A widower gaslights an amnesiac married woman into believing that she's his wife and the mother of his kids. He then brings her home where she gets busy doing all the household work and raising his kids thinking that they're hers. And all of this is shown to be cute, funny, and innocuous.