Adult Swim Quietly Retires a Number of ‘Offensive’ Animated TV Episodes
The network confessed to The Daily Beast that episodes of the Adult Swim series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “The Boondocks,” and “The Shivering Truth” have been disappeared.
Episodes of three popular Adult Swim series—Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Boondocks, and The Shivering Truth—have been removed from streaming due to current “sensitivities,” The Daily Beast has learned exclusively.
Eagle-eyed Redditors first noted the absence of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Season 6 episode “Shake Like Me” from the series’ page on HBO Max in June. In the 2009 episode, titled in homage to John Howard Griffin’s seminal race text Black Like Me, a Black man irradiated by toxic waste bites Shake, turning him “stereotypically” Black in manner and appearance.
Also missing from the service was an infamous, incomplete Season 5 episode called “Boston,” an unreleased parody of the accidental 2007 bomb scare caused by the promotion of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. Fans were confused to discover “Shake Like Me” had suddenly reappeared on the streamer for several days in August, only to come down again.
Additionally, some noted that the Season 3 The Boondocks episode “The Story of Jimmy Rebel”—one of several so-called “banned” episodes of the provocative series, was not available to stream on either HBO Max or Adult Swim while other controversial episodes, including “The Hunger Strike” and “Pause,” were. “The Story of Jimmy Rebel” centers on Uncle Ruckus’ relationship with an aggressively racist country & western singer, whose albums include white-supremacist titles like Real N****** Never Die, They Just Smell That Way.
The omissions of “Jimmy Rebel” and “Shake Like Me” from HBO Max came after the streamer previously announced it had ordered a two-season reboot of The Boondocks for fall 2020, as well as licensing the entire 55-episode back catalog for its May 2020 launch. Reached for comment, a representative from HBO Max told The Daily Beast that neither episode was available on the streamer because “neither of those episodes are part of our streaming deals” with Adult Swim.
According to a representative from Adult Swim, that’s because both episodes have been “permanently retired due to cultural sensitivities,” with no date planned for their return to streaming. “When Adult Swim transitions series to a new platform,” the representative clarifies, “we determine what episodes are selected through creative and cultural filters and our standards and practices policies. Oftentimes these decisions are made in collaboration with the show’s creators.” (The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder declined through a representative to comment.)
This representative also revealed that Adult Swim has “temporarily rested” the third episode of Adult Swim’s surreal stop-motion series The Shivering Truth, “Ogled Inklings,” due “to sensitivity around current events.”
First released online via the network’s Instagram page, one segment in the anthology episode follows a pregnant woman who gives birth to a police officer, who is then called a “dirty pig.” While the official Adult Swim link now carries a 404 error message, the representative says that the episode will “be returning to the site and included when the series debuts on HBO Max” at an unannounced date.
The removal of these episodes from streaming, whether permanent or temporary, comes after a summer in which similarly racist and otherwise controversial episodes were pulled from multiple popular entertainment services, including episodes of 30 Rock, Community, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Little Britain for featuring blackface. Those actions and the statements that followed have been widely scrutinized for their inadequacy by journalists and, in some cases, criticized by the artists involved.
Unlike some of those networks or streamers, however, Adult Swim opted to “retire” and “rest” these three episodes without releasing an official statement. As of press time, banners incorrectly stating that “every episode” of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Boondocks are currently available on HBO Max continue to run on their respective Adult Swim pages. “Ogled Inklings” remains available for purchase on YouTube.