‘Scrubs’ creator Bill Lawrence on blackface scenes: “We almost thought we had a free pass”

"We were so proud of ourselves for doing a very diverse show, in front and behind the camera"

Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence has spoken about his stance on the show’s use of blackface, after he requested three episodes were removed from streaming services.

On the podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends, hosted by the show’s stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison, Lawrence was invited alongside fellow cast member Sarah Chalke to discuss the decision to remove those episodes.

“I did see some things directed at Donald and Zach and Sarah,” Lawrence explained, referring to reactions levelled at the stars following the removal of the episodes.

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“And everybody should know that the reason the word showrunner exists in television is that you’re the gatekeeper, and anything that get allowed on a show you have to ultimately take responsibility for.”

He added: “We almost thought that we had, in a bad way, a ‘free pass’ to not have those thoughts. Because we were so proud of ourselves for doing a very diverse show, in front and behind the camera.”

Braff shared his thoughts on the experience at the time, saying, “At the time I delineated in my mind between the traditional ‘blackface’.” He added: “When we were doing this I never equated it. I was like, ‘Oh it’s a fantasy where I’m trying to be my best friend.'”

Faison, who has often commented on the way his character can be perceived as “the Black guy” on Scrubs, said: “Any joke was passable as a joke as long as it was meant to make people laugh.”

All seasons of Scrubs are now streaming on All4.

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