Backlash after Hulu removes mud mask episode of Golden Girls over blackface concerns

Josie Ensor
The controversial scene shows characters are trying out a mud face mask as they meet a black family for the first time. - Shutterstock

A decision by streaming service Hulu to pull an episode of Golden Girls which featured characters wearing mud masks over black face concerns has been criticised as "counterintuitive".

Hulu removed the 1988 episode entitled Mixed Blessing, where Bea Arthur's Dorothy was introduced to her son's fiancée, Lorraine, a notably older black woman.

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

The controversial scene in question finds two of Dorothy's friends — Rose, played by Betty White, and Blanche, played by Rue McClanahan — trying out a mud face mask when they meet Lorraine's family for the first time.

"This is mud on our faces. We’re not really black," Rose says.

Some criticised Hulu's decision to take down the episode, claiming it was an overreaction. 

"That Golden Girls episode isn’t blackface. What the hell?" tweeted black author Roxanne Gay. "Removing this episode is weird, counterproductive and stupid. It diminishes the effort to actually end racism. It’s just so dumb."

Erica Williams Simon, a fellow author, said the decision was not what Black Lives Matter protesters have been demonstrating for.

"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.

Hulu's decision follows several other distributors removing TV scenes with depictions of blackface.

Earlier this month, Tina Fey asked that four episodes of 30 Rock, which originally aired on NBC, be pulled from streaming services and syndication, as they feature characters in blackface.