The popular NBC comedy 30 Rock is getting rid of blackface episodes from streaming and for-sale platforms.
According to Vulture, four episodes will be removed, including two which featured Jane Krakowski‘s Jenna character in blackface. The episodes will be absent from subscription streaming services Amazon Prime and Hulu, and they will be unavailable for sale on purchase platforms such as iTunes and Google Play. The episodes, which should all be gone by the end of the week, were removed at the request of executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
“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 explained in a letter to the platforms that sold or streamed 30 Rock. “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.”
In one season three episode called “Believe in the Stars,” which first aired on November 6, 2008, Jenna (Krakowski) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) decide to swap identities in order to understand if Black men or white women face more societal challenges. Jenna darkens her skin for this “experiment.” Her character appears in blackface again in a season five episode called “Christmas Attack Zone”. This time she’s dressed as former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann at a party with her boyfriend Paul (Will Forte), who is dressed up as Natalie Portman‘s character in Black Swan.
NBCUniversal is also removing a season six live episode in which guest star Jon Hamm dresses up in a wig and blackface as a way to spoof the racist T.V. and radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy. The studio will remove the East Coast version of 30 Rocks’s first live episode called “Live Show” as well, which includes a fake Fox News chyron that reads “Exclusive Interview With Kenyan Liar.” This is a reference to the birther conspiracy theories against former president Barack Obama, which were pushed by far-right politicians like Donald Trump.
The 30 Rock news arrives just as late night T.V. hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have been chastised for their use of blackface in the past. Both comedians recently apologized.