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September 5, 2015

Why "Amish" was bleeped from Earl: creator Greg Garcia responds

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 6th 2006 6:05PM
Greg GarciaWhen I posted the question about why the word "Amish" was bleeped from last night's My Name Is Earl, series creator Greg Garcia responded in the comments that the bleeping was his choice. After we got that comment here at TV Squad HQ (think of it as the old Letterman home office... its location changes at our whim), I called Greg's office to see if I could get more details. Here is his response:

Joel Keller: So, you were the one who decided to bleep out the word "Amish" from last night's episode?

Greg Garcia: Yeah. I mean it was pointed out to me, but not like in a... we shot that so long ago, um... It was pointed out to me; somebody was watching whatever finalization they do at NBC, and they were like, "Hey, do you remember that this (line) was the Amish thing?" And I was like, "Yeah, ooh... I don't want to start the episode out like that." I mean, it wasn't like we were making fun of the Amish.

JK: No, you weren't. Do you remember the exact line you used?

GG: I think it was like, "You know how Amish people get together and help each other build a barn? Well, that's what we do when it's time to wax Wilma's moustache." So I just decided... I tried real quick to change it to "country people," or something like that, but we didn't have time to re-record it. So I just said drop it out. I'd rather there be a little glitch there... I figure most of the country isn't gonna pick up on it, and you don't want to start out your comedy out with people envisioning a tragedy.

JK: Do you think NBC was a little sensitive to it because of what happened at the Emmys?

GG: I can't speak for them. All I can say is that the people I deal very closely with at the network pointed it out to me, and I said, "Maybe I should take it out." And they were like, "Well, it's your call. We just wanted to let you know." So it wasn't like they said, "Hey, we think you should take it out," or anything like that.

I knew if I would have said on the phone, "Let's leave it in; that's crazy," they would have said "Fine."

JK: So when it gets rerun later in the season, will the word will be back in?

GG: I would imagine it would, yeah. (The tragedy is) just so fresh.

JK: Are you concerned that bleeping out the word drew more attention than leaving it in?

GG: I guess for a second that you worry that it might, then you think "Ah, no one will ever notice it." Then you read TV Squad, and there's a whole article about it. But, um... I wasn't concerned about that. It's not like... um... I'm hiding from anything. I think anybody who I had a conversation about it would say, "Oh, yeah, that makes complete sense. You're a comedy, so why bring that up?"

JK: But can you understand why TV journalists like us become skeptical when we see something like this, given how the networks have behaved the last few years?

GG: Well, I think there's a big difference between being censored for stuff and just showing sensitivity. Tust me, I'm certainly against censorship in any way, but at the same time we're all just human beings living on the earth (chuckle), and so... It wasn't even like a joke, you know what I'm saying? It just happened to, by bad luck and timing, mention Amish, that's all. And so it wasn't even like a joke I desperately wanted to do. I mean, I've certainly had jokes I've wanted to do that got censored (chuckles). But this wasn't a case like that.

I would say in other circumstances, I could see where the media would say, "Hey, this is censorship and it's ridiculous," but in this particular circumstance, it's incorrect to draw that analysis.

JK: But we didn't know it was you that did it until you mentioned it in our comments...

GG: No, I understand the thinking that NBC just did it, and I would have been watching it last night with everybody else saying, "Hey, where did the word Amish go?", you know, as the creator of the show. But what I'm saying is that because it was just me, it's not the case with this one.

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I would have bleeped it out in order TO draw attention to it -- since the attention would happen in a public forum where there could be some explanation. The joke is in no way demeaning or offensive, but coming on the heels of such a tragic incident, even a passing reference could seem callous, especially since few viewers would stop to think that the episode was filmed months ago.

However, in context with a little explanation, which the press surrounding the edit enabled Mr. Garcia to provide, it's actually good publicity for the show, and is complimentary to the Amish when we're reminded that the joke mentions their strong community spirit. Good call, Greg. It shows that the guys behind the program are conscientious and thoughtful people even when it comes to small issues.

October 12 2006 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Krzysztof Jan

Did anyone even think about the fact that the Amish don't watch television so in retrospect the Amish couldn't even get offended if they wanted to. Also, I actually found the joke/line as acompliment to the works that the Amish do!

October 10 2006 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Joel, I accidently typed your name when I meant to type Greg's. I didn't mean you meade a mountain...sorry! Typing faster than I was thinking apparently!

October 07 2006 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Prince of Thrift

Sounds like the creator/producer and NBC did the right thing, while TV Squad is being insensitive. I apluad the folks with "My Names Earl." It reminds me right after 911, when move releases were delayed as a move of sensitivity, NOT censorship. TV Squad, sounds so insesitive here, that it is troubling.

October 07 2006 at 7:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wendy Mac

My mother and all of her relatives are from Lancaster County. I don't live there now, but still found the events tragic and shocking. I've always thought of Lancaster as a safe haven of sorts, a home I could always return to that wouldn't be like anywhere else. It's so peaceful and people there are generally kind. My hearts go out to the families, it's just so awful.

I'm a HUGE "My Name Is Earl" fan, and I was watching last night, and I didn't even notice the gap. I didn't even know about it until I read TVSquad today. I, for one, did appreciate the change because I do look forward to Thursdays at 8pm when I can sit down and have a good laugh.

That's what we need here, is a good laugh! I'm glad we have "Earl" to give us just that. Television should be for forgetting about our worries.

And thanks, Greg, for your comments here, also. It is much appreciated.

October 06 2006 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I completely agree with you and I made similar points in the comments of the earlier article about this, but what's done is done. There's always so much over-sensitive worry about offending some people, while other people, namely Christians, conservatives, southerners, fat people, etc. are constantly bombarded with offenses, that something like muting the word "amish" just makes absolutely no sense at all. It's "selective concern" and not really true, universal consideration for everyone anyhow, so it all comes across as disingenuous.

While I couldn't disagree more with Greg's decision, I don't hate him for it, we just disagree on that subject, nor will I enjoy his show any less. Let's all just get on with enjoying the best comedy on TV, My Name Is Earl, and hope silly decisions like this are avoided in the future.

BTW, kudos to Greg (I'm echoing another commenter from the eariler article who's name I can't remember right now) for standing by his convictions! Just because I don't agree with them doesn't mean I don't respect them or the fact that he's steadfast in them.

October 06 2006 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Garcia gave his reasons behind what he did. He's trying to get people to laugh; he just didn't want people to be reminded of a tragedy right out of the gate.

Did I make too much out of it? Maybe. But if this was such a small deal, then why did Garcia feel the need to respond?

Either way, I do think unnecessary network censorship should be pointed out whenever it occurs. This time around, it wasn't the network's doing. But in the other dozens of cases we've heard about since "Nipplegate," the network's been the party doing the bleeping. If they're going to keep doing it, I'm going to keep calling them on it.

October 06 2006 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's great and all, but it still doesn't explain the reasoning behind bleeping it. There was no disrespect. It wasn't the point of a joke. It was mentioned in happenstance, in passing. OK, so there was a tragedy involved recently that involved the Amish. And? This was actually a positive statement being made, that the Amish come together as a community to accomplish things.

It was just ridiculous to bleep it. Completely unnecessary. Joel overreacted and made a mountain out of a tiny grain of dirt.

October 06 2006 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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