Tina Fey has managed to have four episodes of her sitcom “30 Rock” pulled from syndication and streaming services because characters appear in blackface.
If you’re wondering how a major commercial network such as NBC would ever allow one of its prestige shows to depict characters in blackface, remember that “30 Rock” was filmed in a far simpler time, back in the 1940s –
— in 2008.
Gee, that really is different.
According to Vulture, which broke the story, the episodes to be yanked are:
“Believe in the Stars” (season 3, episode 2)
“The Live Show” (season 5, episode 4, the East Coast version)
“Christmas Attack Zone” (season 5, episode 10)
“Live from Studio 6H” (season 6, episode 19)
Co-star Jane Krakowski appeared in blackface in the “Believe” and “Christmas” episodes, while guest star Jon Hamm greased his face for “Live from Studio 6H.”
(Worth noting that Oprah Winfrey was a special guest in “Believe,” as Fey’s Liz Lemon hallucinated her on a plane.)
“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,” Fey said in a statement.
The episodes will be gone from syndication and streaming services, and will not be available for purchase on Google Play or iTunes.
It appears the only way you’ll see these episodes is if you snag the DVD sets now, while those are available.
No doubt future sets, if any are made, will eliminate the offending episodes.
The loss of the episodes affects the series as “30 Rock’s” stories were serialized. Viewers will be missing crucial beats in several stories, such as Jack and Avery dealing with his nightmare mother or Liz trying to help Jenna reconcile with her cross-dressing boyfriend.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to just trim the offending scenes?
But you have to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to film them in the first place.
Was everyone at NBC asleep? It says something about Fey’s audience at the time that no one objected.
Fey’s attitude now is a marked departure for her support of politically incorrect comedy, which previously might be described as: “Suck it.”
When viewers complained about an episode of her Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in which Krakowski (again?) played a Native American woman hiding her ethnicity, Fey said then, “Steer clear of the internet and you’ll live forever. We did (that) episode, and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it ‘racist,’ but my new goal is not to explain jokes. I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves. There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.”
Not so much now.
Better late than never?
For one of the smartest women in Hollywood, this was pretty stupid.