Scrubs is the latest series to come under fire for racially insensitive episodes, and showrunner Bill Lawrence has stepped up to take responsibility. Hulu has also removed multiple episodes of Scrubs from its site which feature characters in blackface.
The episodes in question are titled "My Fifteen Seconds" from Season 3 and "My Jiggly Ball" and "My Chopped Liver" from Season 5. Zach Braff's character J.D. and Sarah Chalke's character Elliot wear blackface in these episodes. After NBC yanked episodes of 30 Rock that feature characters in blackface, creator Bill Lawrence tweeted on June 24 that he would be taking similar steps for episodes of Scrubs which featured blackface.
On Monday, Lawrence went on the Scrubs podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends to address the problematic episodes and apologized to the actors who he acknowledged he put in a bad position.
"The reason why that word 'showrunner' exists in television is because you're the gatekeeper, and anything that gets allowed on a show you ultimately have to take responsibility for," said Lawrence. "It starts with ignorance. We almost thought that we had… a free pass to not have those thoughts [about blackface] back then because we were so f—king proud of ourselves for doing a very diverse show, in front of and behind the camera… It was almost a block of arrogance where we were like, 'We're so good at what we're portraying and doing and showing that we could never venture into muddy waters.' And even now, with that same ignorance, we never really connected the two of those things until now. You do the reading, and it's not any different."
Lawrence also seemed open to the idea of editing out the problematic scenes from those episodes and restoring them to streaming, but due to the pandemic, it wasn't an immediate option for them.
"I don't really have an editing facility up right now," he said. "I'll probably do that, but the first thing I wanted to do was get them off TV because it bummed me out personally. It just made me feel sh--ty."
Scrubs is available to stream on Hulu.