An episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that was previously pulled from streaming has quietly returned to Hulu.
Like far too many other shows that have at one point featured an inappropriate instance of blackface, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia actually had a stunning five of its installments pulled from its current home on Hulu, where its network, FX, shares a partnership. The episodes were removed in June of 2020 amid heightened scrutiny to racist portrayals sparked in large part by racial justice protests centered on the death of George Floyd.
However, it seems the earliest of those episodes in the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia canon has been added back to the show’s content library without any editing done to remove the controversial moments. The episode, titled America’s Next Top Paddy’s Billboard Model Contest (season 4, episode 3) sees Dee debut some characters that she thinks are comedic enough to land her a role on Saturday Night Live, the joke, however, ends up being that each one is more stereotypical and downright racist than the last. For example, Dee plays a drunk Irish woman, a Latina named Martina Martinez and a buck-toothed Asian woman named Taiwan Tammy. All of the portrayals are over-the-top offensive and she uses brown and yellowface in the latter two.
In true It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fashion, Dee is swiftly called out by Charlie for how racist her “characters” are and even gets physically punished by him as he (correctly) thinks they’ll make the videos funnier. It’s unclear if Hulu and FX decided that the show was in on its own joke enough to make the episode’s return somewhat defensible. It’s also possible that its age made those behind it feel more comfortable adding it back to the show’s library. However, the other four episodes remain off the streaming platform.
The season 8 episode The Gang Recycles Their Trash sees the return of Martina Martinez and Dee’s brownface once again. Both Martinez and Tammy returned again as late as the most recent season 14 episode Dee Day, which was not only pulled from streaming but was not included in the DVD release of the show either. This means it’s possible its original airing was the first and last time anyone will see Dee Day. Other problematic episodes that were pulled included two episodes in which the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang wears blackface to play Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh in their self-shot, fan-made Lethal Weapon 5 and 6.
The summer of 2020 saw several TV shows get select episodes pulled due to the use of blackface. Along with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Vulture reports that Netflix and Hulu pulled one of the best episodes of Community, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons because a character dresses up as a dark elf without realizing how inappropriate it looks to be in full black body paint. Meanwhile, 30 Rock had a total of four episodes removed from streaming for using forms of blackface and a Christmas episode of The Office was removed for briefly showing a character dressed up as a folklore character in blackface as well. Meanwhile, Disney+ rolled out a system of content warnings for some of its older movies that did not age well from a racial standpoint.