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Lionsgate has opted to keep the Season 3 episode of Mad Men titled “My Old Kentucky Home,” which features John Slattery’s character Roger Sterling in blackface. Deadline reports the racist imagery will be addressed prior to the episode with a disclaimer explaining that the scene “shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963.”
“This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America. One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963,” Lionsgate said in a statement. “In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety.”
The decision against pulling this episode of Mad Men comes as shows, like Golden Girls and 30 Rock, recently had their own episodes containing depictions of blackface removed from their respective streaming services. Others, such as The Office and Scrubs, are attempting to salvage the episode through editing.
With Mad Men headed to Amazon and IMDb TV starting July 15 as part of a complicated global licensing agreement, the removal of “My Old Kentucky Home” would’ve presented a unique problem for first-time viewers of the show since this particular episode sets up a story arc that runs throughout the remainder of Season 3.
As viewers of Mad Men know or will soon discover, Sterling exhibited racist behavior on a number of occasions.