30 Rock wrapped up its 7-season run in 2013, but not before it was nominated for a whopping 103 Primetime Emmy Awards and won 16 of them. It rapidly earned itself a spot among some of the greatest and funniest TV shows in history and it remains a highly-binged series alongside other similar comedies like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
However, like those other shows, 30 Rock occasionally tried controversial humor on for size. And now, in the midst of global tension around the subject of race, not all of that controversial humor has aged well according to the show’s creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. As a matter of fact, they’ve now called for four episodes of the show to be removed from all streaming platforms and syndication due to the use of blackface for comedic effect.
In a statement issued to all platforms airing the show, Fey wrote:
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation. I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. 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.”
The four episodes featuring this controversial comedy will be removed from Hulu and Prime Video, and they’ll be unavailable for purchase on Google Play and iTunes going forward. Two of the episodes have already been removed for about a week, and the other two should be removed from all services very soon.
As Variety notes:
The episodes in question are “Believe In The Stars” (season 3, episode 2) and “Christmas Attack Zone” (season 5, episode 10), both of which featured Jane Krakowski’s character Jenna in blackface, as well as “Live from Studio 6H” (season 6, episode 19), which featured Jon Hamm in blackface as part of an “Amos ‘n’ Andy” parody, and the East Coast version of “The Live Show” (season 5, episode 4).
Of course, 30 Rock isn’t the first show to see the removal of episodes featuring blackface. Most notably, Netflix recently removed a popular episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that featured its narcissistic cast arguing over whether the use of blackface is acceptable. Despite it being simply a parody of white arrogance, it’s unlikely the episode will ever return – at least, not in the near future.
Other shows that have seen episodes removed due to the use of blackface, meanwhile, include Little Britain, The Mighty Boosh, and W/Bob & David.