For much of television’s history, it was taboo to show a bathroom. With that being said, I’ve always heard that the plot of the 1957 debut episode of Leave It to Beaver was about “Beaver” and his brother, “Wally,” keeping a baby alligator in the toilet tank to hide it from their parents. There is a widespread rumor that a corner of a toilet’s tank lid was briefly exposed. Which me leads people to believe that, Leave It to Beaver was the first TV show to show a toilet.
From what I’ve learned, the truth is that they didn’t really show a toilet, or parts of one, in any episode. The intended debut episode (entitled “Captain Jack” and which featured a glimpse of a toilet bowl lid) was shelved for a week over censorship problems back in 1957, so a different episode ran in its place. So toilets remained out of sight on television for decades. It was a controversial 1971 sitcom, All in the Family, that became the first TV show to feature the sound of a toilet flushing. It remained rare to actually see a toilet on TV during the ’70s & ’80s, despite television’s increase of sexuality, extremely graphic violence and frequent profanity. No one is clear about why toilets remained taboo for so long, perhaps they deal with subjects that we’re not comfortable to discuss socially.
And by the way, the final version of that, Leave It to Beaver episode, briefly showed not a toilet…but only the toilet tank. This was said to have been more acceptable and television appropriate at that time. Your Thoughts?