The rise of streaming services brought with it easy access to hundreds of shows and their entire back catalog, but as America reexamines its difficult history with race some services have removed episodes in an effort to be more sensitive to modern societal decency. The latest example of this is Hulu, which reportedly removed an episode of The Golden Girls because two of the titular girls wore blackface.
The Hollywood Reporter said Saturday that Hulu had removed the episode, “Mixed Feelings,” which includes a scene of unintentional blackface played up for comedic effect.
“Mixed Feelings”, episode 23 in season 3 of the sitcom, aired in 1988 and shows Michael (Scott Jacoby), the son of Dorothy (Beatrice Author), planning to wed a much older Black woman, Lorraine (Rosalind Cash).
Dororthy is concerned over the age difference while Lorraine’s family disapproves of their daughter marrying a white man, and thus the two families attempt to end the marriage. In the episode, Lorraine’s family finds Rose (Betty White) and Blanche (Rue McClanahan) trying a new mud facial treatment, and as they greet their family, Rose states, “This is mud on our faces, we’re not really Black.”
Blackface, even a seemingly innocent portrayal, is an allusion to an entertainment trope regarded as racist and hurtful. The practice has a long history in minstrel shows and was used to depict Black people as stereotypical side characters to a white character’s heroics. The Golden Girls joins shows like Community, The Office, 30 Rock, and Scrubs that have seen episodes featuring blackface removed from services in recent days. Other performers like Jimmy Kimmel have publicly apologized for the use of blackface in the past as well.