Hulu has removed three episodes of Scrubs due to their depiction of blackface. The decision comes as a number of networks and studios have been re-evaluating their work in the wake of widespread civil rights protests across the globe.
The Los Angeles Times noted that a Twitter user with the handle @SagMurd requested Scrubs take down episodes with blackface scenes. The move follows the lead of 30 Rock executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who'd penned a letter asking NBC to do the same with their sitcom. On Tuesday, co-creator Bill Lawrence replied on Twitter, assuring that the action was "already in the works." The initial Twitter user has since set their account to private.
Agreed. Already in the works.— Bill Lawrence (@VDOOZER) June 23, 2020
The three Scrubs episodes in question are "My Friend the Doctor" (Season 3, Episode 8), "My Jiggly Ball" (Season 5, Episode 4) and "My Chopped Liver" (Season 5, Episode 17). One of the three features Zach Braff’s character wearing blackface at a party, while another episode shows Sarah Chalke's character in blackface during a fantasy sequence. The sitcom aired for nine seasons, first on NBC then later on CBS.
In a letter sent on Monday, Fey and Carlock asked for four 30 Rock episodes to be taken out of rotation, citing their efforts "to do the work and do better in regards to race in America." The two also acknowledged that "'intent' is not a free pass for white people to use these images" and that "going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness." They also thanked "NBCUniversal for honoring this request."
Late-night hosts have also been on the receiving end of criticism for similar portrayals. Jimmy Fallon recently apologize for appearing in blackface during an old Saturday Night Live sketch where he was portraying show alum Chris Rock. Similarly, Jimmy Kimmel also addressed numerous prior sketches where he'd done the same for the sake of his impersonation of Karl Malone.
"I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us,” Kimmel wrote in the statement. "That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke."