Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence has opened up after episodes of the series depicting blackface were removed from Hulu at his request.
Lawrence appeared on Monday's edition of Scrubs podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends and took sole responsibility for the use of blackface on the former NBC/ABC comedy.
He also issued an apology to Zach Braff, Donald Faison, and Sarah Chalke for putting them in the position he did.
“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,” Lawrence said.
“So, first off, super sorry that any of you guys had to deal with any stuff because… even though we’re all friends and it was a super creative and reciprocal environment, you guys still, at the end of the day, did and were receptive to doing whatever stuff we told you [to do].”
He did not defend the use of blackface on the show.
“It starts with ignorance,” he added.
“We almost thought that we had… a free pass to not have those thoughts [about the history of 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."
"[We had a] great black-and-white friendship that exists as a real black-and-white friendship, a great interracial couple… 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 touched on the occasional use of whiteface on the series, saying that will not be pulled from the episodes.
“There’s a big ‘both sides-ism’ thing,” he said.
“I’m getting tons of… ‘Well, you’re gonna pull that episode where Donald plays Cal Turk and is a white guy and an insurance agent, right?’"
And I’m like, ‘No, I’m not,’ because as a white guy, that is not based in any systemic racism for me, or history, or any negativity… I find that kind of argument to be so counterproductive and ridiculous.”
While there is no confirmation the episodes will return to streaming, Lawrence is opimistic that they will be re-edited and added down the line.
“Twitter is like, ‘Why did you pull the whole episodes?’ Why didn’t you just edit those moments out and put them back on?’ And I said to one person, ‘It’s a pandemic. I don’t really have an editing facility up right now.’ I’ll probably do that, but the first thing I wanted to do was get them off TV because it bummed me out personally,” he said.
“It just made me feel sh–ty.”
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.