We've heard of television series pulling episodes due to potential offense from viewers several times before: shows have been pulled or altered due to religious beliefs; a school shooting has oft delayed the release of a particularly violent episode of a drama series; quite recently, an episode of 'Castle' was delayed in light of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.
But... pulling an episode over an allergy? This may be a first.
Disney channel has opted to pull an episode of its hit family series 'Jessie' out of rotation due to an insensitive response to a child character on a gluten-free diet. The episode “Quitting Cold Koala,” which was to premiere last Friday, finds Debby Ryan’s titular nanny tasked with minding Zuri’s frenemy Stuart (played by J.J. Totah), who follows a gluten-free diet. Upon learning the food restrictions that come with his condition, jokes are made, one of which involved pancakes being tossed at Stuart while he screams, “Gluten!”
On one hand, it can be argued that the teasing was in good fun, however viewers are right to respond negatively when a child's allergy--a very dangerous one at that--is made sport of, perhaps encouraging viewers to behave similarly.
Coeliac disease, characterized by a severe autoimmune reaction to wheat gluten, is no laughing matter. It is a disorder of the small intestine that causes pain and discomfort in the digestive tract, chronic constipation and failure to thrive. It is more commonly known as gluten intolerance.
Disney posted the following regarding the episode in question:
"We received your feedback about tonight’s 'Jessie' episode which some of you accessed early on Video-on-Demand. We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet. Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family."