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Wardrobe Malfunctions That Ended Up In The TV Show

A TV show (or televised event) is a huge, costly endeavor with many moving parts. There are props, sets, lighting cues, sound effects, make-up, costumes, and, of course, lots and lots of people, both behind and in front of the camera. It's the specific combination of costumes and human beings that can sometimes cause a surprising amount of problems for a TV show. When those elements literally move in tandem, things can go very wrong, sometimes resulting in the broadcast of images that the government has made very clear should not be broadcast on free, over-the-air network television. We're talking wardrobe malfunctions here, people. These egregious oopsies may offend the viewing public and embarrass TV performers. And, of course, they're preserved for posterity on the internet.

Here are some times when things got dicey, and some accidental, partial, near, or actual nudity made its way in television shows and televised events.

This episode of Three's Company was nuts

Today, programming that's shot and presented in high-definition, combined with the ease by which one can capture a video clip and then set it loose on the internet, means that an accidental flash of nudity isn't going to be overlooked by viewers, even if it got past network censors. In the early 1980s, however, TV wasn't as crystal clear as it is now, and while many people had a VCR at that point, it wasn't easy to disseminate footage of a particularly salacious moment. Case in point: in a 1983 episode of Three's Company, John Ritter wore a pair of short-shorts (which were the style at the time), and when he sat on a bed, part of his scrotum briefly escaped. Evidently, nobody noticed ... until 2001, when the episode aired on Nick at Nite and an extremely eagle-eyed viewer saw that bit of offending skin. When Nickelodeon got word, the network edited the episode so that the old footage of Ritter wouldn't offend anyone going forward.

A not-so-good morning for Nicki Minaj

When musicians perform, they get in "the zone" — they get lost in the moment and focus on the performance. They're not thinking about clothes, because they're not supposed to be thinking about clothes. That mindset generally serves rapper Nicki Minaj very well, but it also made her completely oblivious when she exposed herself while rapping live on TV in August 2011. For an outdoor performance on Good Morning America, Minaj wore the kind of outfit one expects Minaj to wear: a massive head of blond hair, a shiny pink jacket, a ton of bracelets, and a green sports bra that left little to the imagination. As Minaj performed, what was concealed under that bra became concealed no more.

When she realized what had happened, she put everything back where it was supposed to go. Minaj later apologized on ABC's Nightline, and also denied that the wardrobe malfunction had been a publicity ploy. "I'm so sorry about that," Minaj said. "People are ridiculous if they think I would use that as a stunt."

LeBron James was too cavalier

LeBron James simply had his head in the game, so much so that he didn't even think about how he might expose another part of his body to a huge television audience. In Game 4 of the 2015 NBA Finals, James' Cleveland Cavaliers faced off against the Golden State Warriors. Right after Usher performed the National Anthem, and right before the game was about to start, the camera focused in on James as he prepared to play, vigorously and thoroughly adjusting his jersey, shorts, and other items of clothing. There was just enough movement on the shorts — and enough time — for King James to show his penis to the world.

It wasn't James' only unfortunate incident involving a camera that night. After a play, he lost his balance and fell into a TV camera, but that time he didn't expose any private parts. (Even worse for James: the Cavaliers lost by 21 points.)

Fifty shades of embarrassing

The Fifty Shades of Grey movies haven't won a lot of awards — critics trashed them — but they were very popular. The first film in particular delivered such a perfect blend of romance and riding crops that star Dakota Johnson won a People's Choice Award in 2016 for Favorite Dramatic Actress, one of the few acting awards voted on by the public at-large. Johnson took the stage at the CBS-televised event, and as she made her way to the microphone to give her acceptance speech, presenter and friend-of-Johnson Leslie Mann gave her a hug ... and in doing so broke the zipper on the back of the halter-type top of Johnson's outfit. Mann and fellow presenter Alison Brie made sure Johnson's garment didn't fall all the way off. The award-winner took it in stride, wryly referring to the movie for which she just won a trophy: "Well, it's not like nobody here hasn't already seen my boobs."

Super suit snaps then flaps

The whole point of a skintight article of clothing is that it's supposed to be, well, skintight. That means it should lock everything down where the wearer wants it to stay, and so that no stray body part can pop out at an inopportune time. That's probably why so many superheroes favor this adult equivalent of the one-piece garment worn by babies: no loose hanging bits of fabric to get in the way of crime-fighting (capes, of course, never get in the way).

Francisca Lachapel is not a superhero; she's an actress, beauty queen, and one of the hosts of Univision's popular morning show, ¡Despierta América! It was for a comedy sketch on that program in October 2017 in which Lachapel found herself sporting a silly, spandex-y, turquoise, superhero one-piece. As she ran in place in front of a green-screen background, the load-bearing zipper snapped. The suit flopped loose, exposing Lachapel's pink bra to viewers at home.

Dancing with the stars and almost without clothes

The unique ingredients that make Dancing with the Stars so popular are the same unique ingredients that make it surprising there aren't more wardrobe-related mishaps and instances of minor nudity on the long-running ABC competition series. Dancing with the Stars features women performing acrobatic and athletic dance moves while wearing very little clothing. It's a recipe for trouble. In 2006, Monique Coleman, best known for High School Musical, competed on the show. While doing the jive, Coleman jumped into partner Louis Van Amstel's arms, as one does, and the heel on her shoe caught a piece of dangly fringe on her skirt. As Coleman kept on trying to dance, her shoe pulled down the skirt just a little, but enough to expose her rear end to the studio audience and millions watching at home. After the number, host Tom Bergeron quipped to Coleman, "I know that jump scared the 'everything' out of you." Coleman's reply: "It did. It scared my clothes off, apparently."

Avoiding accidental nudity with the stars

Okay, so maybe costume snafus on Dancing with the Stars aren't all that rare. In 2017, celebrity contestant Frankie "Malcolm in the Middle" Muniz found himself in the middle of an awkward TV moment involving his professional partner, Witney Carson. During an episode, Muniz and Carson danced a Pirates of the Caribbean–inspired Argentine tango. Carson has of course danced on TV many times before, but not with a heel stuck on her skirt. She had no choice but to kind of hop and spin around on one foot. "It would just not come out," Carson told People, which meant Muniz was "literally dragging" Carson through the routine. Muniz confessed he didn't actually know there'd been an accident at first. During rehearsals, he says he "messed up in that spot every single time, so we got to it, and I thought, 'Just do this last thing and we're done.'" When he realized Carson was off, he briefly thought he'd been the one that had made the error, and not some kind of skirt-shoe conspiracy.

A second X factor on The X Factor

The X Factor was a huge hit in the UK, so Fox broadcast a version stateside. Singers singing shouldn't lead to too many instances of wardrobe malfunctions and/or accidental nudity ... but that doesn't factor in the hosts and their love of revealing garments. Khloe Kardashian, she of the royal family of reality TV, co-hosted with Saved by the Bell hunk-turned-talking head Mario Lopez. One night in 2012, Kardashian performed her X Factor hosting job as usual, talking about the performers, throwing to commercials, etc. All the while, the sheer top with privacy-providing panels Kardashian chose to wear did not do its job as usual. Those modesty panels didn't exactly stay in place. The end result: Kardashian's nipples were quite visible throughout an entire episode of The X Factor. (It's not quite Kim Kardashian-levels of nudity, except that this was network television, not a private home video.)

Zip it!

Jennifer Hudson made one of the all-time great career turnarounds. The magically-voiced singer was eliminated early on in the third season of American Idol in 2004. But unlike most Idol also-rans, Hudson didn't fade into obscurity: she went into acting, landing a role in the 2006 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Hudson won an Oscar on the strength of her powerful rendition of the showstopper "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

While appearing as a guest on the cable talk show Chelsea Lately in 2013, the zipper on her skirt told Hudson that it definitely was going: as she sat down across from host Chelsea Handler, her dress burst open in the front. Fortunately, the broadcast had gone to a wide shot of host and guest so there was no close-up of the incident. Plus Handler jumped up to assist Hudson and block what needed to be blocked before things could get any worse.

It somehow survived the cutting room floor

What do most of these television wardrobe malfunctions have in common? Most of them occurred during live broadcasts, or live-to-tape broadcasts. Pre-taped shows and events in which a zipper suddenly breaks or a private body part busts forth will likely never be seen by the public; if a director can call cut and get another take with a functioning garment, they'll go ahead and do that. Or, if it's a reality show that will air months in the future, they've got the time and technology to edit out, blur, or pixelate such offending moments.

That's why it's perplexing how a brief bit of male nudity on Survivor made it through the edit bay, past CBS' "standards and practices" (in other words, censors), and all the way to primetime television. During the two-hour premiere of Survivor: Gabon in 2008, contestant Marcus Lehman chased a giant ball during an immunity challenge ... and that's when his genitals popped out of his shorts.