A lot goes into the making of films and television shows. It takes a village, quite literally. When House of Cards came to a close, an estimated 2500 people were sent packing. Given the number of jobs at stake, most networks give creatives the ultimate freedom to make the best television they can. This leads to diversity, exploration of different themes, and less-governed creative freedom that may not augur well with a few countries and the public in general. In the past, we have seen outrage over episodes of some shows. Similarly, some shows or their episodes have been axed by different countries, each with its own unique reason.
1. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (China)
In 2014, The Big Bang Theory featured on China’s largest streamer, Sohu. Created by Two and a Half Men executive producer Chuck Lorre, the show managed a solid 1.3 billion views on the platform, only to be banned by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television. However, the ban only lasted until July of 2015, after which the sitcom returned on the platform. At the time its ban was uplifted, it was the first foreign show to get a greenlight.
2. ‘Cooking On High’ (Singapore)
According to Singaporean regulators, the country has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs, and the giant streamer Netflix was forced to comply, pulling the Shows Cooking On High and the film Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics off of the platform. Singapore has in the past imposed strict measures on the streamer, leading to the removal of films such as The Last Temptation of Christ, The Last Hangover, The Legend of 420, and television series such as Disjointed.
3. ‘Peppa Pig’ (Australia)
Children’s animation Peppa Pig suffered a major setback when an episode was banned from Australian television. The concern: spiders. According to regulators, the episode portrayed spiders as friendly and was controversial in the country, which is home to dangerous spiders. So dangerous are the spiders that, in 2016, 22-year-old Jayden Burleigh died of a redback spider bite, the first case of its kind in 60 years.
4. ‘The Legend of Korra’ (Kenya)
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), under the leadership of Ezekiel Mutua, banned The Legend of Korra and other shows deemed to be ‘laced with subtle messages normalizing, glamorizing or glorifying homosexual behavior contrary to the law and the board’s classification guideline.’ The Board directed that the show be removed from a Multichoice-run broadcasting platform. Other shows banned by the country include Hey Arnold, Steven Universe, and Adventure Time.
5. ‘Patriot Act With Hassan Mihnaj’ (Saudi Arabia)
In one episode of Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj, the comedian criticized the country’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. As a result, demand was placed to have the episode pulled out of Netflix Saudi Arabia, citing that it was against the country’s cybercrime laws. In a statement, the streamer maintained its stand on giving its creators artistic freedom. While the episode was pulled from the platform, it still remains at large on YouTube, and is accessible in the country.
6. ‘Malcolm In The Middle’ (Malaysia)
According to Culture Trip, there are several things that are not allowed in Malaysia. Drunken behavior, for instance, is taboo. So is alcohol in Terengganu and Kelantan. That long list also includes films like Fifty Shades of Grey, which have a sexual aspect to them. Okay, it’s not so much an aspect as it is the theme of the entire movie. Regardless, shows that are violent or sexual in nature are frowned upon. Malcolm in the Middle is banned in the country too.
7. ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ (Europe)
If you are familiar with Patrick, SpongeBob, and his squad, you know that, for a show that targets children, language is not their strongest suit. Sometimes it gets too vulgar, and more than 120 countries have picked up on it. The show has had some of its episodes banned, including one that was themed around the topic of suicide. Not only did more countries in the world ban some episodes of SpongeBob, but Nickelodeon did too. The most recent episode, ‘Kwarantined Crab’, had a virus storyline that was removed due to how close it hit home, following the global pandemic.
8. ‘Tom And Jerry’ (Indonesia)
All over the world, several episodes of Tom & Jerry have been banned. In the United Kingdom, several scenes, including one where Tom was smoking a cigar, were cut. The axing also included a conversation about cannibalism. In the United States, the cuts involved a scene that was racially profiling the east. In Indonesia, a drunken scene that involved Tom was cut. Episodes that were affected included ‘Part Time Pal’, ‘Mouse in Manhattan’, ‘A Mouse in the House’, and ‘Jerry’s Diary’, where a scene that involved punching of Tom’s eye was cut out of the aired version.
9. ‘Empire’ (China)
Back in 2015, it was reported that China had ordered the removal of two shows off of the country’s streaming sites: Agent Carter, and the Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard-led Fox hit, Empire. Other shows that were taken down were Shameless, which was thought to be too sensitive, American Horror Story, Stalker, and the Whitney Cummings hit Two broke Girls, starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ban would not only affect American shows but was bound to extend to shows from other countries as well. A thorough scrutiny of foreign shows followed soon after.
10. ‘The Simpsons’ (Venezuela)
In 2008, The Simpsons faced a setback as the show was found by censors to be unfit for children. According to Reuters, the regulator held the view that the show was ‘infringing many things in the television and radio social responsibility law.’ The ever-so-popular show’s place was taken by Baywatch Hawaii. It joins the long list of children’s shows that also includes Family Guy, which has been equally banned in some parts of the world. Some of Family Guy episodes such as ‘Partial Terms of Endearment’ have been considered controversial. Due to the heavy topic of surrogacy, abortion, and adoption, the episode aired in the United Kingdom, but has to date not been aired in the United States.
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