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Hulu Pulls 'Golden Girls' Episode That Features Characters in Mud Masks Over Blackface Concerns

People logo People 6/29/2020 Benjamin VanHoose
Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Betty White posing for the camera: The 1988 episode of the sitcom includes a gag in which Betty White and Rue McClanahan's characters are mistaken for wearing blackface while in mud masks © NBC/Getty Images The 1988 episode of the sitcom includes a gag in which Betty White and Rue McClanahan's characters are mistaken for wearing blackface while in mud masks

Hulu has removed an episode of The Golden Girls that contains a blackface reference.

Over the weekend, the streaming platform cleared its catalog of the 1988 episode of the beloved sitcom titled "Mixed Blessings." The season 3 episode's storyline follows Dorothy's son Michael introducing his fiancée Lorraine to the main characters.

While Dorothy (Bea Arthur) has reservations about the engagement because of the woman's older age, Lorraine's family is resistant to her marrying a white man.

The controversial scene in question finds Rose (Betty White) and Blanche (Rue McClanahan) in matching brown mud masks when Lorraine's family meets them.

Rose references their appearance saying, "This is mud on our faces, we're not really Black."

Some criticized Hulu's decision to take down the episode, claiming the choice is an overreaction. "That Golden Girls episode isn’t blackface. What the hell ?" tweeted author Roxanne Gay, adding, "Removing this episode is weird, counterproductive and stupid. It diminishes the effort to actually end racism. It’s just so dumb."

"I know Hulu better put that Golden Girls episode back," tweeted Daybreak writer Ira Madison III.

On Twitter, author Erica Williams Simon commented about Hulu's removal of the episode, pointing out the recent trend of removing past television episodes with blackface references as a response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.

"First of all, they were in mud masks not blackface. And second of all, in what world does 'Stop killing us.' sound like 'Please remove episodes of Golden Girls'? I didn't see that ask on anyone's protest sign..." she wrote.

"To be clear: I’m not 'attacking' Hulu. I would just hate for the seriousness of this moment and movement to get lost in symbolic (and sometimes silly) overcorrections," added Simon. "Impact on real lives should be the measure of any change worthy of a PR push."

The Golden Girls ran for seven seasons from 1985 to 1992.

Hulu did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

A number of popular TV series have come under fire in recent weeks for past instances of blackface being played for laughs. Episodes of comedies like Community, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock have been pulled from circulation or edited over insensitivity concerns.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.orgworks to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.

Related video: Tina Fey Apologizes for 'Ugliness' of 30 Rock Episodes That Contain Blackface


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