Several episodes of 30 Rock that featured characters in blackface are now being pulled from streaming services and syndication. As reported by Vulture, the episodes were pulled at the request of the show's executive producers, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
In a letter sent to the platforms that streamed 30 Rock, 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."
While all the episodes will reportedly be pulled from streaming platforms by the end of the week, Hulu and Amazon have already removed some of them, and viewers won't be able to buy them on iTunes or Google Play either. They will also be removed from syndicated reruns. TV Guide has reached out to NBCUniversal reps for comment.
Two of the episodes involve Jane Krakowski's character, Jenna, wearing blackface. In the Season 3 episode "Believe in the Stars," Jenna and Tracy (Tracy Morgan) decide to see if Black men or white women have it harder in America by attempting to swap identities. The Season 5 episode "Christmas Attack Zone" shows Jenna dressed as former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann.
The Season 6 episode "Live from Studio 6H," in which Jon Hamm appears in blackface as part of a parody of Amos 'n' Andy, is also being pulled. The East Coast version of Season 5's "Live Show" is being pulled as well, but the West Coast version will remain available to stream. Per Vulture, it's currently unclear as to exactly which element of the East Coast version led it to be pulled, though it did feature a fake Fox News chyron referring to former president Barack Obama as a "Kenyan Liar," which was changed in the West Coast show.
The pulled 30 Rock episodes are just the latest steps the entertainment industry is taking to remove or contextualize racist elements of TV shows and moves, particularly on streaming platforms. HBO Max recently pulled Gone With the Wind from its platform, with the caveat that it will eventually return with more historical context and a condemnation of the racist depictions in the movie. Hulu also made headlines for removing episodes of Little Britain in which the characters wear blackface, and an episode of the sketch show W/ Bob & David that featured David Cross in blackface was recently removed from Netflix.