Bob Odenkirk, David Cross Respond to Netflix Pulling ‘W/ Bob & David’ Blackface Sketch

The removal of a "W/Bob & David" episode came during a period of heightened scrutiny on racial issues in the entertainment industry.
"W/ Bob & David"
David Cross and Bob Odenkirk at a screening of "W/ Bob & David"
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

An episode of the Bob Odenkirk and David Cross-led “With Bob & David” sketch show that featured Cross using blackface has been removed from Netflix.

The episode, entitled “Know Your Rights,” included a sketch where Cross humorously explains the rights drivers’ have when pulled over by police. Cross attempts to agitate a police officer, played by Keegan-Michael Key, but Key’s character remains calm until Cross drives by in blackface and is pepper sprayed and tased shortly after.

“Hey all, Netflix is going to pull this sketch from With Bob & David because the ridiculous, foolish character I play puts on ‘black face’ at one point. The point of this was to underscore the absurdity…well, here’s your last chance to figure it out,” Cross said on Twitter while linking to a now-unavailable YouTube video of the sketch.

Netflix declined to comment on the episode’s removal. The rest of the series is still streaming on Netflix.

“We considered every choice we made doing our show, and always aimed to make you laugh and think, and never make an obvious or easy point…that very much includes this sketch. Our comedy is always about the human element, never about making a political point,” Odenkirk said on Twitter.

Netflix’s removal of “Know Your Rights” came several days after the streaming service and several other platforms removed the entire “Little Britain” sketch comedy series from their rosters. The BBC show, created by Matt Lucas and David Walliams, had bits where the duo portray various ethnic characters, women, and cross-dressers, and occasionally included blackface.

The entertainment industry’s sensitivity towards titles with blackface stemmed from ongoing conversations about racism amidst the nationwide George Floyd protests, which center on the outrage from a police officer’s killing of Floyd in Minnesota late last month.

The industry’s heightened scrutiny regarding racial issues also resulted in Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the “Law & Order” franchise, firing a writer who threatened to “light up” looters, while “The Flash” star Hartley Sawyer was recently fired due to racist tweets from 2012 and 2014. “Vanderpump Rules” cast members Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni were also recently fired after their past racist tweets were uncovered. Meanwhile, Paramount Network and A&E Networks cancelled “Cops” and “Live PD,” respectively, while HBO Max has temporarily removed “Gone With the Wind” from its platform.

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