Secret History of TV: Whatever Happened to ‘Very Special Episodes’?

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There's a problem afflicting our nation: a lack of "very special episodes" on modern sitcoms. So in this, a very special episode of "Vulture's Secret History of Television," we take a look at the cringe-inducing phenomenon of lighthearted shows making abrupt tonal shifts to focus on problems like addiction, sexual assault, and proper use of CPR (no, really, there was a Punky Brewster episode about that). How did these episodes emerge? Why did they disappear? Tune in and learn some important lessons. Afterward, watch our past episodes, on topics like swearing and lesbian kisses. And tune in on Wednesdays for new episodes of "Vulture's Secret History of Television."