'Scrubs' removes 3 blackface episodes from Hulu at creator's request

At the request of series creator Bill Lawrence and TV network ABC Studios, Hulu has removed three episodes of the hit comedy-drama sitcom Scrubs that include characters in blackface from its streaming service.

The news was confirmed on Wednesday by Variety and comes only days after NBCUniversal (NBCU) and executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock made the decision to remove four episodes of 30 Rock from all platforms for the same reason.

After being asked to follow in the footsteps of NBCU and remove all Scrubs episodes featuring blackface, Lawrence, 51 — who also co-created Cougar Town — spoke for both Hulu and ABC, saying that the removal was “already in the works” in a tweet on Tuesday.

The episodes in question include My 15 Seconds (Season 3, Episode 7) and My Jiggly Ball (Season 5, Episode 4), which aired between 2003 and 2006. The episodes feature series leads Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke wearing black face paint.

The final instance of blackface used in Scrubs can be seen in My Chopped Liver (Season 5, Episode 17), where main characters J.D. (Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) attempt to swap their racial identities as a prank for a college party.

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ABC Studios’ and Lawrence’s push for Hulu to remove the racially insensitive Scrubs episodes follows a wave of similar adjustments in the film and television industry over the last few weeks, including not only the removal of several 30 Rock episodes but the cancellation of Cops and Live PD.

The two smash-hit police/crime series ceased production and were dropped by their respective networks earlier this month in response to the anti-Black racism and anti-police brutality protests triggered by the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a Black man, was killed on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minn.

The worldwide protests — led by the Black Lives Matter movement — also inspired HBO Max to rerelease Gone With the Wind with a new introduction that includes Black scholar and television host Jacqueline Stewart in order to add historical context to the film for the viewer.

The 1939 classic film has been long criticized for romanticizing slavery and the Civil War-era American South.

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Additionally, a single episode of the popular 1970s British sitcom Fawlty Towers was removed from BBC streaming service UKTV a few weeks ago following several re-evaluations from the network.

The episode in question, The Germansoriginally aired in 1975 and included a number of racist remarks from recurring character Major Gowen, who used multiple slurs to describe both the West Indies and India cricket teams.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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