'Scrubs' Pulls 3 Episodes Featuring Blackface From Streaming

Multiple episodes with stars Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke in blackface will no longer be available on Hulu.
Sarah Chalke, Zach Braff and Donald Faison in the first season of "Scrubs."
Sarah Chalke, Zach Braff and Donald Faison in the first season of "Scrubs."

Scrubs” is the latest television series to pull episodes from streaming services due to the use of blackface, as the entertainment industry continues to reckon with past depictions of race on screen. 

The medical comedy starring Zach Braff, which premiered in 2002 and ran for nine seasons on NBC and ABC, is, well, literally scrubbing three episodes featuring multiple white characters in blackface from Hulu, where the sitcom is currently streaming.

A source confirmed to The Wrap, which was the first to break the news, that the decision came at the request of producers and ABC Studios. 

The three episodes in question come from the Emmy-winning sitcom’s third and fifth seasons ― My Friend the Doctor” (Season 3, Episode 8), “My Jiggly Ball” (Season 5, Episode 4) and “My Chopped Liver” (Season 5, Episode 17).

In one of the episodes, Braff’s character arrives to a fraternity party in blackface alongside Donald Faison’s character Turk during a flashback. In another, Sarah Chalke’s character wears blackface during one of the series’ many dream sequences.

Series creator Bill Lawrence confirmed that the “Scrubs” episodes would be removed on Wednesday after replying to a tweet about “30 Rock” pulling multiple episodes from streaming and syndication earlier this week. 

When asked if “Scrubs” would follow suit, Lawrence responded, “Agreed. Already in the works.”

Over its run, “Scrubs” mined much of its humor from the interracial friendship between Braff and Faison’s characters.

The two actors remain close to this day and launched the podcast “Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald” earlier this year in which they rewatch old episodes of the show and discuss on-set memories. 

In June, Braff spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he said has made him reflect on friendship with Faison and his own white privilege. 

“It’s not enough to just to say, ‘Oh, my best friend is a Black man,’” he said on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” “It’s not enough to say, ‘Oh, I grew up with a diverse population.’ I can’t just sit back and go, ‘Oh no, I’m cool, I have a Black best friend.’ That’s BS.”

“There’s plenty of ways that I haven’t been proactive in my own life and my own privilege, and I’m really learning that now,” Braff added.

The decision to take down multiple “Scrubs” episodes arrives just days after Tina Fey apologized for having characters in blackface in four “30 Rock” episodes, which have since been removed from Amazon, Hulu, iTunes and Google Play.

“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. 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.”