As part of Hollywood efforts to take past TV episodes with racist references out of circulation, Hulu will no longer stream a 1988 episode of “The Golden Girls” in which two characters allude to blackface.
Titled “Mixed Blessings,” the Season 3 episode follows Dorothy (played by Bea Arthur) as she is grappling with her son Michael’s engagement to an older Black woman, Lorraine. While Dorothy’s concerns are focused on the age gap, Lorraine’s mother objects to the union because Michael is a white man.
The controversial scene, however, is part of a secondary storyline involving Dorothy’s roommates Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Rose (Betty White). Preparing to embark on a vacation, the two characters apply mud masks to their faces just as Lorraine’s family walks in.
“This is mud on our faces,” Rose clarifies. “We’re not really Black.”
HuffPost has reached out to Hulu for comment on the episode’s removal.
The company’s decision to pull “Mixed Blessings” comes as other classic shows, including “30 Rock” and “Scrubs,” have taken similar steps to remove episodes featuring blackface from streaming services.
But the “Golden Girls” news, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, was derided by many Black writers and journalists on social media.
Roxane Gay, author of 2014’s “Bad Feminist” and 2017’s “Hunger,” pointed to the fact that the scene involved mud masks rather than actual blackface.
Writer and podcast host Erica Williams Simon felt similarly, deeming the removal one of many “symbolic (and sometimes silly) overcorrections.”
Writer Ira Madison III suggested that the person responsible for the removal of the episode “didn’t even watch it or is just not a smart person.”
“I like how they think Black people don’t know our Golden Girls,” journalist Imani Gandy tweeted. “Dorothy, Rose, Sophia, and Blanche are the least problematic white women in all of television which is fairly impressive considering that show was on air in the … mid-80s.”
“The Golden Girls” ran from 1985 to 1992 and, even by current standards, was forward-thinking on a number of hot-button issues. Over the course of its seven-season run, the show tackled addiction, sexual harassment, same-sex marriage and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
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