Hulu has removed an episode of the beloved American sitcom The Golden Girls over blackface concerns.
The Golden Girls episode in question is ‘Mixed Blessing’ (Season 3, Episode 23), and features a storyline in which Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur)’s son Michael (Scott Jacoby) reveals his plans to marry his fiance, an older Black woman named Lorriane (Rosalind Cash). ‘Mixed Blessing’ focuses on Dorothy having reservations about her son marrying an older woman, as well as focusing on Lorriane’s family having concerns over her marrying a white man.
The storyline is one that was provocative for its time. Although not unheard of, it was rare for such a storyline to be featured in mainstream media. However, it is not the storyline that has come under fire but one particular scene.
In said scene, Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Rose (Betty White) are wearing mud masks when they meet Lorriane.
“This is mud on our faces”, says White during the encounter, “we’re not really Black”.
Despite being on the service for a while, this episode was removed over the weekend over concern of racial connotations and the fear of it being perceived as blackface.
The reaction has garnered significant backlash from fans of the hit TV show, with many taking to Twitter to express their concern over the episode’s removal.
Author Roxane Gay tweeted, “That Golden Girls episode isn’t blackface. What the hell? … Removing this episode is weird, counterproductive and stupid. It diminishes the effort to actually end racism. It’s just so dumb.”
Gay’s tweet is just one of the many examples of disapproval at Hulu’s decision to remove the episode from it’s service. The general consensus appears to be that this is severe overreaction by the site, with many pointing out how the removal of the episode is actually detrimental to the BLM cause.
The decision to take this episode down follows similar efforts by other streaming sites to remove or edit TV shows which feature racism, blackface, or other elements that could be perceived in a similar manner. Notable examples of this are shows such as Community and The Office, which have suffered the same fate as The Golden Girls. Four episodes of the popular comedy show 30 Rock have also been removed entirely from streaming services, at the request of Tina Fey and executive producer Robert Carlock, as actors appear in blackface on numerous occasions.
30 Rock actress and producer Tina Fey commentated on the show’s removal:
“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,” Fey wrote. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images.”
Words by Paul Dawson