‘Scrubs’ is the latest TV show to confront its history of blackface.
After NBC recently vowed to remove episodes of ‘30 Rock’ featuring characters in blackface, ‘Scrubs’ creator Bill Lawrence confirmed on Tuesday the popular NBC/ABC medical series would follow suit. Hulu, which currently distributes ‘Scrubs,’ has since pulled three episodes from the platform.
A Twitter user with the handle @SagMurd requested ‘Scrubs’ take down episodes with blackface scenes after ‘30 Rock’ executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock asked NBC to do the same. And Lawrence swiftly replied that such a move was “already in the works.”
‘Scrubs’ ran for nine seasons, from 2001 to 2010.
No longer available on Hulu are ‘My Friend the Doctor’ (Season 3, Episode 8), ‘My Jiggly Ball’ (Season 5, Episode 4) and ‘My Chopped Liver’ (Season 5, Episode 17). According to Variety, one ‘Scrubs’ episode involves Zach Braff’s character wearing blackface at a party, while a different episode shows Sarah Chalke’s character in blackface during a fantasy sequence.
Earlier this week, Fey announced NBC had agreed to scrap ‘30 Rock’ episodes featuring blackface and apologised “for the pain they have caused.” Her statement sparked a backlash, however, from several users on Twitter who pointed out racist storylines in other Fey creations, including the 2004 comedy ‘Mean Girls’ and Netflix’s ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ which wrapped last year.
“I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images,” Fey wrote in a statement obtained Monday by Vulture. “Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honouring this request.”
Other celebrities who have apologised for blackface incidents in recent weeks include late-night comedians Jimmy Fallon, who wore blackface for a 2000 ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit, and Jimmy Kimmel, who appeared in blackface multiple times on ‘The Man Show,’ which ran from 1999 to 2004.
“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 provided Tuesday.
“That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologise to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the make-up I wore or the words I spoke.”