30 Rock is gearing up for a one-episode return in July that will coincide with the entire series’ launch on Peacock, NBC’s upcoming streaming service. But not every episode will be included. Fey sent a note to streaming platforms apologizing for various instances of blackface that appeared in 30 Rock, two of which involved series regular Jane Krakowski’s Jenna character.
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey wrote. “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request.”
In one of the episodes, Jenna and her co-star Tracy Jordan attempt to swap identities to see whether black men or white women have a more difficult time in their profession, which leads to Jenna darkening her skin. Another episode features her in a Halloween costume that involves blackface. A third featured guest star Jon Hamm parodying old, racist TV and radio episodes of Amos ’n’ Andy. None of the episodes will be available to stream or purchase anymore.
This follows a string of reckoning with instances of racism in pop culture, including NASCAR’s ban of the confederate flag and HBO Max’s decision to add a note of context to Gone With the Wind. 30 Rock is far more recent than either of those and may precipitate another major decision. Amazon is reportedly weighing just what to do about the Dukes of Hazzard, which features a confederate flag in every episode.