Just How Many Recent Shows Featured Blackface, Anyway?

Here’s a depressingly long list—more than 20 shows in the past 20 years—plus whether the network has pulled them.

Collage of stills from 30 Rock, SNL, Community, Scrubs, The Sarah Silverman Program, and The Man Show
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by NBC, Comedy Central, Yahoo, and ABC.

The protests against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd are still ongoing, as Americans all over the country demand radical changes to the relationship between police and civilians. Meanwhile, the protests have inspired a series of long-overdue conversations about the role of racism in a number of other institutions, including the media, Confederate monuments, and the television industry—the last of which has largely responded by removing many TV episodes featuring blackface from streaming platforms.

As show after show gets removed, two things are becoming clear: The television industry has long been overdue for a reckoning when it comes to blackface, and this isn’t necessarily it. As Alyssa Rosenberg observed in the Washington Post and as Atlantic writer Adam Serwer argued on Twitter, the approach networks are taking in some cases—removing these episodes from distribution entirely—has as much to do with whitewashing the histories of these artists and networks as it does confronting or dismantling white supremacy. But the single most striking thing about the television industry’s response is just how much blackface has been on television in the 21st century.


What follows is a list of episodes depicting blackface that have aired on American television since 2000. We’ve compiled the list as a matter of record, and to show just how recently the portrayals occurred—often as a punchline. We’ve described as closely as possible what happened on-screen and what, if anything, the networks and artists involved have done since the show aired. (We have not included any of the images.) For the purposes of this list, we’re defining blackface as actors wearing minstrel show–style makeup or non-Black actors otherwise darkening their skin to play a Black character. Most of the examples cited are blackface, but when those same shows have also included prominent instances of brownface or yellowface, many of which have also been removed, those instances are also mentioned. (We’re not including examples of casting white actors to voice characters of other races in animated television.)

30 Rock (NBC)

Episode: “Believe in the Stars”
Airdate: Nov. 6, 2008
Incident: Jenna Maroney, the character played by Jane Krakowski, decides to trade places with Tracy Morgan’s character to see whether women or Black men have it worse in America. Maroney shows up at work in blackface as part of her experiment, singing “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz as she dances down the hallway. James “Toofer” Spurlock, the Black writer played by Keith Powell, confronts Maroney and says, “You realize this is incredibly offensive. And you realize blackface makeup reignites racial stereotypes African Americans have worked for hundreds of years to overcome?”


Episode: “The Live Show” (East Coast broadcast)
Airdate: Oct. 14, 2010
Incident: Jon Hamm’s character is given a hand transplant from a recently executed Black man, and the hand attempts to strangle him. (On the West Coast broadcast, he was given a woman’s hand instead.)


Episode: “Christmas Attack Zone”
Airdate: Dec. 9, 2010
Incident: Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) attends a New Year’s Eve party as part of a couple’s costume with her ex-boyfriend Paul L’Astname (Will Forte), which she pitches to him like this: “You dress as Natalie Portman from the movie Black Swan and I dress as former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Lynn Swann—we’re two black swans.” The episode ends with Maroney in blackface and a Steelers uniform, singing a duet of “O Holy Night” with L’Astname.


Episode: “Live From Studio 6H”
Airdate: April 16, 2012
Incident: Kenneth the NBC Page gives a history of live television, praising NBC for “having the first two Black characters on television, sort of.” He then explains that the network insisted on hiring one Black actor and one Caucasian actor, then cuts to a clip of Alfie & Abner, an Amos ’n’ Andy parody featuring Tracy Morgan made up normally and Jon Hamm in blackface.


Result: All four of these episodes of 30 Rock have been pulled from syndication and streaming services and are no longer available for purchase on iTunes or other video-on-demand services, at the request of show creator Tina Fey and co-showrunner Robert Carlock. “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,” Fey wrote.


The Academy Awards (ABC)

Episode: The 84th Academy Awards
Airdate: Feb. 26, 2012
Incident: In the opening skit of the Oscars in 2012, host Billy Crystal reprised the blackface impression of Sammy Davis Jr. he used to do on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s, showing up as Davis during a Midnight in Paris parody to suggest that they use time travel to “go kill Hitler” after hanging out with Hemingway.
Results: Crystal’s appearance drew widespread criticism, although Sammy Davis Jr.’s daughter told the Hollywood Reporter that her father, who died in 1990, would not have minded. In 2019, Crystal discussed Davis’ reaction when he did the impression on SNL, suggesting that at first he “wasn’t happy” but that eventually he came to embrace it.

Chappelle’s Show (Comedy Central)

Episode: Season 3, Episode 2
Airdate: July 16, 2006
Incident: In a sketch called “Black Pixie,” Dave Chappelle wears 19th century–style blackface and a bellhop’s uniform to play a pixielike figure who encourages a Black character (also played by Chappelle) to conform with stereotypes about Black people. While taping this sketch, a white member of the studio audience laughed at the blackface in a way Chappelle found disturbing, which led him to walk away from his Comedy Central deal. The sketch was aired as part of Chappelle’s Show’s abbreviated third season, “The Lost Episodes,” in which Comedy Central aired the sketches Chappelle had taped before quitting.

Chris Lilley’s Shows (Australian Broadcast Corp.*/HBO)

Shows: Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, Jonah From Tonga
Airdates: July 27, 2005–June 11, 2014
Incident: Australian comedian Chris Lilley uses blackface, brownface, or yellowface in all four of these shows. In We Can Be Heroes, a mockumentary about people nominated for the “Australian of the Year” award, he played Ricky Wong, a Chinese immigrant. In Angry Boys, he wore blackface to play a stereotypical Black rapper named S.mouse. And on Summer Heights High and its spinoff show, Jonah From Tonga, Lilley darkened his skin to play a stereotypical Tongan.
Results: Except for We Can Be Heroes, Lilley’s shows were HBO co-productions, and sparked outrage when they aired in America. All were quietly removed from HBO Go in February of 2019. Earlier this month, Netflix removed all four shows from its Australian and New Zealand streaming platforms.

Community (NBC)

Episode: “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”
Airdate: Feb. 3, 2011
Incident: The Greendale Community College study group plays Dungeons & Dragons, and Ken Jeong’s character, Ben Chang, shows up with white hair and pitch-black makeup, explaining, “I’m a dark elf, or a drow.” There are jokes based on the fact that Chang’s getup resembles blackface: Yvette Nicole Brown’s character asks, “So we’re just going to ignore that hate crime, huh?” and later in the episode, Chevy Chase’s character refers to him as “Blackface.”*
Result: Netflix and Hulu have pulled the episode from their streaming services, but it’s still available to purchase from video-on-demand services.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX/FXX)

Episode: “America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest” (FX)
Airdate: Sept. 25, 2008
Incident: In a misguided attempt to become a YouTube star, Kaitlin Olson’s character Dee starts making videos wearing brownface as “Martina Martinez,” a “streetwise Puerto Rican girl who’s always quick with a sassy comeback.” Later, she wears buckteeth to make a video as “Taiwan Tammy,” which Charlie Day’s character describes as “extremely racist.” Both characters speak with stereotypical accents.


Episode: “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth” (FX)
Airdate: Nov. 11, 2010
Incident: The Always Sunny gang has an argument over whether or not blackface can ever be tasteful, using Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer and Laurence Olivier in Othello as examples. In an attempt to settle the question, Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) trick Dee (Kaitlin Olson) into showing a class of high school students their own installment of Lethal Weapon 5, in which Mac plays the Danny Glover role in blackface. (Danny DeVito’s character, Frank, also appears in the gang’s Lethal Weapon movie as a Native American casino owner, with braided pigtails.) At the end of the episode, a high school student played by Paul Walter Hauser is seen in the principal’s office after replacing his Insane Clown Posse makeup with blackface at the urging of Charlie Day’s character.


Episode: “The Gang Recycles Their Trash” (FXX)
Airdate: Oct. 8, 2012
Incident: The gang takes advantage of a sanitation strike to make some money collecting garbage and dumping it in poor neighborhoods. When the strike seems to be ending, threatening the gang’s scheme, Dee (Kaitlin Olson) seizes the mic at a union rally in character as “Martina Martinez,” her brownface Puerto Rican YouTube alter ego from “America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest” and attempts to incite a race riot.


Episode: “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6” (FXX)
Airdate: Oct. 30, 2013
Incident: The gang attempts to raise money to finish Lethal Weapon 6 by showing clips from the uncompleted film to potential investors. In the clips, Roger Murtaugh is played by Mac (Rob McElhenney) in blackface; Murtaugh’s daughter is played by Dee (Kaitlin Olson), also in blackface. Danny DeVito reprises his role as Native American casino owner Chief Lazarus.


Episode: “Dee Day”
Airdate: Oct. 9, 2019
Incident: The rest of the gang agrees to do whatever Dee Reynolds says for a day. She stages a play at the bar and forces Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Frank (Danny DeVito) to reprise her racist YouTube characters “Taiwan Tammy” and “Martina Martinez,” respectively. McElhenney wears buckteeth while DeVito is in brownface.

Result: All five episodes have been pulled from Hulu and the U.K. version of Netflix but are still available for purchase from video-on-demand services.

The League of Gentlemen (BBC)

Episode: “Destination Royston Vasey”
Airdate: Jan. 14, 2000
Incident: This episode of the British sitcom introduces the character of Papa Lazarou, a circus ringmaster played by Reece Shearsmith. Lazarou has a cork-black face and white circles around his eyes and mouth, and he enjoys tricking women into becoming one of his many wives.


Episode: “Yule Never Leave”
Airdate: Dec. 27, 2000
Incident: In this Christmas special, Papa Lazarou returns and kidnaps the local vicar.

Episode: “How the Elephant Got His Trunk”
Airdate: Oct. 31, 2002
Incident: Papa Lazarou disguises himself as an ordinary theater director, tricking more women into becoming one of his wives.

Episode: “Royston Vasey Mon Amour”
Airdate: Dec. 20, 2017
Incident: Papa Lazarou is back, and this time he’s trapping local women in a phone booth in hopes of creating a “wife mine.”

Result: Netflix pulled the show from its streaming service, but the BBC has left it up, and it is still available for purchase from Apple. Shearsmith and show creator Steve Pemberton have said in interviews that Lazarou was not intended to be blackface. “It was not me doing a black man,” Shearsmith told the Independent. “It was always this clown-like make-up and we just came up with what we thought was the scariest idea to have in a sort of Child Catcher–like way.” Pemberton added, “It’s not a political thing at all.”

Little Britain (BBC)

Episode: Season 2, Episode 6
Airdate: Nov. 23, 2004
Incident: Comedian Matt Lucas wore blackface to play the Reverend Jesse King, a stereotypical Black American pastor who said he was “from the ghetto.”


Episodes: All of Season 3
Airdate: Nov. 17–Dec. 24, 2005
Incident: Five of the six Season 3 episodes feature Desiree DeVere, a Black woman played by David Walliams in blackface.

Result: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and BritBox all removed Little Britain from their streaming services, and it is not available to stream. Both Lucas and Walliams, who have previously spoken about their regrets over playing characters of other races, apologized again on Twitter.


Loosely Exactly Nicole (MTV)

Episode: “Babysitting”
Airdate: Sept. 5, 2016
Incident: In the series premiere of this show created by Christian Lander and Christine Zander, star Nicole Byer attempts to pass off an Asian child played by Ian Chen as her own son by painting his face brown.
Result: None.

Mad Men (AMC)

Episode: “My Old Kentucky Home”
Airdate: Aug. 30, 2009
Incident: At his Kentucky Derby party, Roger Sterling, the advertising executive played by John Slattery, sings “My Old Kentucky Home” in shoe-polish blackface.
Result: Variety reports that the episode will now appear with a title card before it to “provide context for the blackface scene.” According to their report, the card will read:


This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America. One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963. In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety

Mad TV (Fox)

Episode: Season 10, Episode 6
Airdate: Nov. 20, 2004
Incident: In a sketch about a George Foreman turkey grill, Bobby Lee darkened his skin to play Foreman’s half-Asian son.


Episode: Season 12, Episode 3
Airdate: Sept. 30, 2006
Incident: In a sketch set at a restaurant, Michael McDonald darkened his skin to play a busboy from a “very remote island” whose mouth had antiseptic properties. McDonald gave the character a high-pitched voice and an exaggerated accent, and he frequently repeats phrases like “Yes, mister” while “cleaning” the patrons with his mouth.

Results: None. Mad TV is still streaming on HBO Max.

The Man Show (Comedy Central)

Episodes: “Will You Buy Me a Beer,” “Introducing Karl Malone,” “Sports Show,” “Election Smear Campaigns,” “Juggy Training,” “Holiday Show,” “Girl Scouts,” “Work Place Behavior,” “Teaching Women About the Workplace,” “Phone Sex,” “Drunken Pilots,” “Movie Show,” “Man Show Boy Gets a Fake ID,” “Christmas Show,” “Undercover Bartenders,” “Officer Adam,” “Assoholics Anonymous,” “Mardi Gras,” “Topless Juggy Car Wash,” “Horse Racing”
Airdates: July 16, 2000–April 6, 2003
Incident: In these 20 episodes of The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel wore blackface for a recurring impersonation of Karl Malone.


Episodes: “Oprah Jimfrey,” “Man Show Boy Hits the Beach,” “Juggy Water Park”
Airdates: Aug. 5, 2001, Aug. 12, 2001, Aug. 26, 2001
Incident: In these three episodes of The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel wore blackface for a recurring impersonation of Oprah Winfrey.


Result: Kimmel apologized in a statement last week, writing, “There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.” Meanwhile, The Man Show co-host Adam Carolla, on his podcast, attempted to draw a distinction between Kimmel’s impressions and blackface, saying, “Blackface is something, doing Karl Malone is doing something else, or doing Oprah is something else, or Mr. T or Jimmy Fallon doing Chris Rock.” The Man Show is still available to purchase on streaming platforms.

The Mighty Boosh (BBC Three / Adult Swim)

Episodes: “Electro,” “Journey to the Centre of Punk”
Airdates: June 22, 2004, Nov. 22, 2008
Incident: In these episodes of The Mighty Boosh, Noel Fielding plays a character known alternately as “The Spirit of Jazz” and “Howlin’ Jimmy Jefferson.” He appears in a Baron Semedi-like outfit, in a white suit and top hat, dreadlocks, and a white skull painted on his face over black makeup, and says things like, “I’se the spirit of jazz!” In “Electro,” he offers to make another character a famous jazz musician in exchange for his soul. In “Journey to the Centre of Punk,” a punk musician is infected with a drop of Howlin’ Jimmy’s blood, causing him to scat sing at a punk gig, and prompting a Fantastic Voyage-style journey into his body to track down the “jazz cell,” inadvertently allowing the spirit of jazz to manifest itself in the real world again.
Result: Netflix has removed The Mighty Boosh from their streaming platforms, but it is still available for purchase on video-on-demand services or through the BBC.

The Office (NBC)

Episode: “Dwight Christmas”
Airdate: Dec. 6, 2012
Incident: Rainn Wilson’s character Dwight Schrute attempts to introduce his office mates to a “traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas” by dressing up as Belsnickel. When people doubt that Belsnickel is a real tradition, Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) looks him up on Wikipedia, reading aloud a passage about “his partner, Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter, a slave boy often portrayed in pantaloons and blackface.” Dwight’s Black co-worker Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) protests, but Dwight assures him that “we don’t blindly stick to every outmoded aspect of our traditions,” before hastily sending a text message. The show cuts to the parking lot, where Nate, a warehouse worker played by Mark Proksch, is walking toward the office in a full Zwarte Piet outfit including blackface. Nate receives Dwight’s text and returns to his car.
Result: Greg Daniels, who created the American version of the show, has edited out the shot of Proksch in blackface from the version of the episode available on Netflix—Dwight still sends a suspicious text when Zwarte Piet is mentioned, but there’s no indication of where he sent it—and the shot will continue to be edited out in future streaming versions of The Office. “Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticize a specific racist European practice,” Daniels wrote in a statement. “Blackface is unacceptable and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused.”

Peep Show (Channel 4)

Episode: “Dance Class”
Airdate: Nov. 12, 2004
Incident: Robert Webb’s character Jeremy begins dating Nancy, a sexually-liberated American played by Rachel Blanchard. In one of their sexual encounters, Jeremy asks “Do I really have to do this?” before the show cuts to a shot that reveals he is wearing blackface. “It just feels almost … wrong,” he adds. “We’re breaking a taboo, of course it feels wrong. We’ve got boundaries to smash, Jeremy,” Nancy replies. “But are you sure this isn’t racist?” Jeremy asks. “Jeremy, I come from America. I’ve seen the problems race brings up,” Nancy replies. Jeremy is unable to perform—more because Nancy asked him to imagine her as his mother in service of breaking another taboo than because of his appearance—and has an awkward moment when his roommate sees him walking to the bathroom to wash off the makeup.
Result: Netflix has edited this scene out of their version of Peep Show but it remains on Channel 4’s streaming service. “We understand the strong feelings provoked by some of this content but we do not believe that erasing our creative history is a quick fix for the issues affecting our society today,” Channel 4 said in a statement. “Channel 4 is committed to inclusion and diversity and opposes discrimination in any form and therefore, having reflected deeply on this subject, we are undertaking a review of the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms.”

The Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central)

Episode: “Face Wars”
Airdate: Oct. 17, 2007
Incident: Silverman attempts to prove that being Jewish is harder than being Black by spending a day as a Black woman. The camera pans over an elaborate array of makeup and prostheses, implying Silverman is receiving a Black Like Me–style makeover, before revealing she has been made up in exaggerated 19th century blackface. She goes on to misunderstand the results of her experiment, interpreting people’s outrage that she is wearing blackface to be manifestations of racial prejudice.
Result: In 2018, Silverman renounced the episode in an interview with GQ:


“Comedy by nature is not at all evergreen. So if you’re doing it right, you look back at your old stuff and you’re horrified,” she tells me. “I don’t stand by the blackface sketch. I’m horrified by it, and I can’t erase it. I can only be changed by it and move on.”

Did you, at the time, have some awareness that it was fun to get away with a lot of the jokes you performed? Was there a small kick?

“I was praised for it! It made me famous! It was like, I’m playing a character, and I know this is wrong, so I can say it. I’m clearly liberal. That was such liberal-bubble stuff, where I actually thought it was dealing with racism by using racism. I don’t get joy in that anymore. It makes me feel yucky. All I can say is that I’m not that person anymore.”


The episode is no longer available for purchase online.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Episode: Season 25, Episode 14
Airdate: March 11, 2000
Incident: In a sketch about Regis Philbin (Darrell Hammond) auditioning new co-hosts, Jimmy Fallon appeared in blackface to impersonate Chris Rock.


Episodes: Season 26, Episodes 7 and 10; Season 27, Episode 1; Season 31, Episode 11; Season 32, Episodes 7, 13, and 17; Season 33, Episode 12; Weekend Update Thursday Episode 2
Airdates: Dec. 9, 2000–Oct. 16, 2008
Incident: In these eight Saturday Night Live episodes (and one episode of SNL spinoff Weekend Update Thursday), Darrell Hammond darkened his skin to impersonate Jesse Jackson.

Episodes: Season 29, Episodes 12 and 17; Season 30, Episodes 2, 8, and 20; Season 31, Episode 12; Season 32, Episodes 12 and 17; Season 36, Episode 5; Season 37, Episodes 1 and 15 Airdates: Feb. 14, 2004–Feb. 18, 2012
Incident: In these 11 Saturday Night Live episodes, Fred Armisen darkened his skin to play Prince.


Episodes: Season 33, Episodes 5, 6, 7, 10, and 12; Season 34, Episodes 3, 6, 10, 14, 17, 19, and 20; Weekend Update Thursday Episodes 1, 2, and 5; Season 35, Episodes 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 13, 16, 18, and 20; Season 36, Episodes 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 15, 19, and 21; Season 37, Episodes 8, 15, and 21
Airdates: Feb. 23, 2008–May 12, 2012
Incident: In these 33 Saturday Night Live episodes and three episodes of SNL spinoff Weekend Update Thursday, Fred Armisen darkened his skin to play Barack Obama.


Episode: Season 38, Episode 18
Airdate: April 13, 2013
Incident: In a sketch about Al Pacino making a series of HBO movies about accused murderers, Bill Hader did an impersonation of Pacino that included a scene in which the Oscar-winning actor wears blackface to play Michael Jackson’s physician Dr. Conrad Murray. “Is this cool?” Hader’s Pacino asks a Black actor on set.


Result: Jimmy Fallon apologized in May for wearing blackface to play Rock, writing, “There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.” On June 1, Fallon opened The Tonight Show with an apology, before talking about the issue with NAACP president Derrick Johnson. The sixth through 29th seasons of Saturday Night Live have not been released on streaming services or home video, outside of compilations, but the other episodes are available.

Scrubs (NBC)

Episode: “My Friend the Doctor”
Airdate: Dec. 4, 2003
Incident: Donald Faison’s character Dr. Chris Turk, who is Black, tries to convince Zach Braff’s character J.D. Dorian that he is still in love with Sarah Chalke’s character, Dr. Elliot Reid. “Think about her right now,” Turk says, and the episode cuts to a shot of Elliot kissing J.D. “Now think about her and Sean together” prompts J.D. to imagine Elliot kissing him again. “Now think about her and me together” prompts a fantasy of Elliot kissing a Black version of J.D., played by Braff in blackface.


Episode: “My Jiggly Ball”
Airdate: Jan. 10, 2006
Incident: Elliot (Sarah Chalke) rhetorically asks J.D., “Seriously, how could I be a better roommate?” prompting J.D. (Zach Braff) to imagine her as “half Turk and half Elliot,” before cutting to a shot of Sarah Chalke in blackface sitting next to J.D. playing video games.

Episode: “My Chopped Liver”
Airdate: April 4, 2006
Incident: In a flashback scene, Turk (Donald Faison) and J.D. (Zach Braff) go to a Black fraternity party in cartoonish whiteface and blackface, respectively. “These are my guys, all right? As long as you’re with me, they’re going to find this funny,” Turk says, before abandoning J.D. at the front door. His costume goes over badly with the fraternity brothers.


Result: All three Scrubs episodes were pulled from Hulu and video-on-demand services last week as part of an effort supported by series creator Bill Lawrence.

Stella (Comedy Central)

Episode: “Paper Route”
Airdate: July 26, 2005
Incident: After being beaten up by bullies, characters played by Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain disguise themselves in 19th-century style blackface to conceal their injuries from their neighbors, complete with Al Jolson-style jazz hands. When a neighbor asks why they are wearing blackface, Michael Ian Black responds, “Obviously, because we’re protesting racism. We’re making an ironic statement about racism and how wrong it is.”
Result: None. In a 2015 oral history of Stella, Michael Ian Black explained what he was trying to do:


It was one of those “should we or shouldn’t we” jokes, one of those things that pushed the boundaries of taste so far that it sort of felt like we had to do it. I don’t even really remember the context for why they were doing it, but I know there was no racial component to it. I mean, obviously the joke was that there was a racial component, but the three of them were totally oblivious to it. They just thought of something and did it because they were, as I said, total idiots. We went back and forth on the make-up for it, but that was mostly about making it look historically accurate. And we shot it as fast as possible.


Michael Showalter addressed the issue as well, saying, “We just thought it was a classic example of how the Stella guys think. They don’t understand how horrible they are. It seemed delightfully offensive and idiotic. I think we all sort of thought it was edgy, and funny and silly, and that it probably would never be allowed to be on the show.”

W/ Bob & David (Netflix)

Episode: Episode 3
Airdate: Nov. 13, 2015
Incident: In a sketch called “Know Your Rights,” David Cross plays a libertarian trying to tape a video about traffic stops who is stymied when he cannot provoke the police officer played by Keegan-Michael Key to do anything unprofessional. After driving through Key’s traffic stop several times trying to provoke a conflict, Cross’ character tries again in blackface, at which point Key’s character calls over a white officer who hits him repeatedly with pepper spray and a Taser.
Result: Netflix has removed the episode from its streaming service, a decision that the show’s creators, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, both tweeted critically about:

Correction, July 1, 2020: This piece originally misidentified the Australian Broadcasting Corp. as the Australian Broadcasting Company.

Correction, June 30, 2020: This piece originally misspelled Yvette Nicole Brown’s middle name.

Update, June 30, 2020: This article was updated to add Stella, The Mighty Boosh, and Peep Show.

Update, July 1, 2020: This article was updated to add the news that Mad Men will now include a title card before its blackface episode.