From 'Scrubs' to '30 Rock,' All the Shows Pulling Episodes with Blackface

Blackface on television is having a reckoning in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The concept of blackface has been considered taboo for decades, yet many popular series have been getting away with using the harmful caricature as an edgy gag or punchline, without, it seems, truly examining its racist origins.

Until now of course.

The past few weeks have seen episodes of many beloved TV shows scrutinized as part of this new enlightened discourse on what has been allowed to be acceptable in the entertainment industry.

With companies like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's acknowledging that their brands' imagery are based on racist stereotypes, many TV shows are following suit, with networks removing certain episodes from platforms.

HBO Max also removed the film Gone With the Wind from its newly launched streaming service but is set to bring back the film with a disclaimer about its historical context.

Here's a round-up of every show mired in blackface controversy.

Actors Sarah Chalke, Zach Braff, and Donald Faison poses for a publicity photo for the television show "Scrubs." Courtesy of NBC/Getty Images


Long-running medical comedy Scrubs was this week facing scrutiny when Hulu removed three racially insensitive episodes from its streaming service.

Series creator Bill Lawrence responded to a tweet about 30 Rock removing episodes, with: "Agreed. Already in the works."

The episodes in question are: "My Fifteen Seconds" from Season 3 as well as "My Jiggly Ball" and "My Chopped Liver" from Season 5.

30 Rock

30 Rock creator Tina Fey has insisted that four episodes of the NBC show be removed from syndication and streamers.

Fey said in a statement: "I understand now that 'intent' is not a free pass for white people to use these images."

The removed episodes are: "Believe in the Stars" from Season 3, "Christmas Attack Zone" and "Live from Studio 6H" both from Season 5 and the Season 6 episode, "Live Show" (East Coast version).

Fey's statement continued: "I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request."

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Netflix removed some episodes of FX dark comedy It's Always Sunny due to scenes containing blackface.

The beloved cult show is known for pushing boundaries with its characters intended to represent terrible people who do terrible things.

The sixth episode from Season 2, "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth," is now no longer viewable on the streaming platform.

Little Britain and Come Fly with Me

British sketch shows from Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Little Britain and Come Fly with Me are both facing scrutiny for their blackface characters.

"There's a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review. Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer," a BBC spokesperson told Digital Spy.

Both shows have also been dropped from U.K. streaming services, BBC iPlayer and BritBox.

The Mighty Boosh

Noughties' surrealist comedy sketch show, The Mighty Boosh, is another series being forced to reckon with its use of racial stereotypes and blackface.

The Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt-led show featured a recurring character known as The Spirit of Jazz which was Fielding, who is also a host of The Great British Baking Show, wearing dark makeup first featured in the Season 1 episode, "Electro."

Netflix has removed The Mighty Boosh from its platforms but it is still available on the BBC iPlayer.

The League of Gentlemen

Surreal comedy The League of Gentlemen has also had one of its episodes removed from Netflix due to the character Papa Lazarou.

The show is still available on the BBC iPlayer.

Writer Reece Shearsmith has said that the character was not intended as blackface, but British comedian Gina Yashere told the New York Times: "That was not a clown. That was a golliwog. He didn't come up with anything. All he did was take all the horrible depictions of black people on products as far back as the 1800s and reconstituted it, and said it's ironic."

W/ Bob & David

Netflix also recently removed an episode of the Bob Odenkirk and David Cross-fronted With Bob & David sketch show.

The episode is titled "Know Your Rights."

Cross did not support the removal, tweeting: "Hey all, Netflix is going to pull this sketch from With Bob & David because the ridiculous, foolish character I play puts on 'black face' at one point. The point of this was to underscore the absurdity...well, here's your last chance to figure it out."

Chris Lilley shows

Netflix has removed the sketch shows of Australian comedian Chris Lilley.

The shows Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, and Jonah From Tonga have all been removed from the platform.

Clips of the shows have also been removed from the BBC iPlayer.

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