Dax Shepard made an awkward joke about the California wildfires on Friday night in an Instagram post about his wife. The actor shared a photo of Kristen Bell standing with comedian and actress Monica Padman. In addition to compliment them both, he cracked a joke that had some followers on the edges of their seats.
"The fires aren't the only [smoke show] in L.A.," Shepard wrote with four fire emojis.
The Ranch star made at least one fan nervous with his choice of punchline. A commenter predicted that he would see backlash for the post, as it could be insensitive to those losing their homes to California wildfires.
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"Aaaannnndddd here come the overly sensitive people that overreact to everything in 3...2...1," read the comment.
In spite of this prediction, the anger was actually pretty limited on Shepard's post. A few commenters noted that the joke was a little off-color but still agreed that it was within bounds.
"Too soon! But accurate!" someone wrote.
"Too soon. But you right," added another.
Some commenters did think the caption left room for interpretation, wondering if Shepard was calling his wife a "smoke show," or Padman. Padman is a comedian on the rise, with a temporary role on The Good Place last year and another in the comedy blockbuster CHIPS. She was featured on Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast back in May, and it is clear that she is still friendly with him and Bell.
While Instagram may be more forgiving, Shepard is still catching flack on Twitter, where he showed solidarity with Ellen DeGeneres. Shepard encouraged the talk show host to "PREACH!" after she defended her friendship with former president George W. Bush.
"Preach what," one fan wondered on Friday, "he was against gay marriage, wow you Americans really confuse me."
"Collect your man Kristen," advised another.
So far, Shepard's tweet still stands, though other stars are backing down on the issue. After originally praising DeGeneres for being forgiving and bipartisan, Reese Witherspoon deleted her post. Bell, too, deleted her Instagram post supporting DeGeneres.
she supports Ellen aswell......... pic.twitter.com/9Z1oQcQbqE— Justin Schuetze "We've got work to do" (@RealJustinhulk) October 10, 2019
DeGeneres was at the center of a heated online debate this week after she was spotted at a Dallas Cowboys game with Bush. Detractors noted that Bush had campaigned for president on the promise to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and had led the U.S. into war with Iraq.
Others — including Shepard and Bell — thought that DeGeneres was making a good stand for bipartisanship and compassion in a time of unprecedented political division. Their opponents argued that they were simply misremembering how divided the U.S. was during the Bush administration.
Bell stars in The Good Place, which is currently in its final season. The beloved comedy airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.