Here Are The Shows—From ‘The Simpsons’ To ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’—Making Big Changes In Wake Of Anti-Racism Movement

Television comedies and cartoons are recasting talent, rewriting upcoming seasons and even deleting old episodes with racist tropes

ФОТО: 360b / Shutterstock

As the anti-racism movement gains traction, television comedies and cartoons—from Big Mouth and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to 30 Rock and Scrubs—are responding in part by recasting talent, rewriting upcoming seasons and even deleting old episodes with racist tropes, Forbes reports.

Here’s what’s happened so far:

  • The Simpsons will no longer use white voice actors to play non-white characters, Fox said Friday, coming after the longtime controversy over Hank Azaria’s portrayal of Apu, an Indian convenience store owner, on the cartoon—Azaria relinquished the role earlier this year.
  • Mike Henry, voice of Cleveland Brown on the cartoon Family Guy, also said Friday he would step down for a person of color to play the role.
  • Actress Alison Brie posted an apology on Instagram Saturday for her portrayal of Diane Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American writer, on the cartoon Bojack Horseman, saying that “people of color should always voice people of color.”
  • Actress Kristen Bell used Instagram Wednesday to announce she was relinquishing the voiced role of Molly, a biracial girl with a Black father and white mother, on the Apple TV-produced musical cartoon Central Park, so that another actress could provide a “more accurate portrayal.”
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a workplace comedy following a New York City police precinct, ditched four planned episodes in the wake of George Floyd’s death, said star Terry Crews, who portrays Sergeant Terry Jeffords in the show.
  • Comedy powerhouse Tina Fey and producer Robert Carlock requested that four episodes of cult favorite 30 Rock be deleted, three of which featured actors Jenna Krakowski and Jon Hamm in blackface.
  • Also deleting old blackface episodes: Scrubs, the early-aughts hospital comedy starring Zach Braff, who wears the race-changing makeup in one episode, while Sarah Chalke dons it in a fantasy sequence in another.
  • Amazon is reportedly weighing whether to remove The Dukes Of Hazzard from its free IMDB TV streaming service as the Confederate flag, seen as an emblem of white supremacy, is emblazoned on the title characters’ Dodge Charger.

“I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for [the] pain they have caused,” Fey wrote in her letter requesting the removal of the 30 Rock episodes to NBCUniversal executives. “Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness.”

Late night television hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon recently came under fire for old blackface portrayals. “I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke,” Kimmel said Tuesday of his blackface imitation of former NBA player Karl Malone in the 1990s. Fallon apologized on Twitter in May for appearing in a 2000 blackface portrayal of Chris Rock in Saturday Night Live, calling it an “unquestionably offensive decision.” In film, cinematic classic Gone With The Wind left HBO Max for two weeks before reappearing on the platform Thursday, now with two accompanying videos discussing the film’s racial legacy. One clip features commentary from University of Chicago film professor Jacqueline Stewart, who said, “The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

 

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