Alyssa Milano Explains Why Blackface Scandal Is All B.S.

alyssa milano grey's anatomy season 16
(Image credit: abc press)

In the current political climate, a slew of different TV shows have recently faced consequences for featuring scenes with white actors in blackface, with certain instances (30 Rock) arguably being more clearly offensive than others (The Golden Girls). As well, specific celebrities have also been called out for using the racially insensitive makeup in the past, such as talk show hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. The Internet also tried taking Mistresses and Charmed vet Alyssa Milano down for a past instance of alleged blackface usage, but the actress wasn't having it.

Stories started circulating this week on certain websites featuring sometimes out-of-context images where Alyssa Milano is very clearly covered in makeup that gives her a much darker complexion. It would be an understatement to say that Milano did not agree with others that the look, which was created for a 2009 Funny or Die video, was tantamount to a "blackface scandal." She got quite explicit in defending the look as parodying Jersey Shore's Snooki, saying:

Hey, assholes. The below picture is me parodying Jersey Shore and Snookie’s tan. Snookie’s tan (she is a sweetheart by the way) is worthy of parodying as is Trump’s 'tan.' So go fuck yourselves with your smear campaign.

Alyssa Milano then shared a link to the video clip in question, titled "Alyssa Milano's Evolution: Jersey Shore," in which the actress goes through a lengthy makeup and hair process to mimic the heavily tanned look that Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi made her signature through years on Jersey Shore and its spinoff. (She has since exited the show.) Once the makeover is finished, and the pouty-lipped Milano is photographed sticking her butt out, the picture becomes a Jersey Shore promo hanging on a bathroom wall, with the joke being that all that work was done just for an advert that people only see when they're using the toilet. (Or washing their hands, or throwing their beer packaging in an overstuffed trash can.)

By responding to the perceived backlash in such a frank and confronting way, and with a Donald Trump reference no less, the ever-vocal activist Alyssa Milano probably didn't win herself any new friends with her defense. Some of her detractors whose reactions were more level-headed than hyperbolic pointed out that she was still parodying someone whose skin was darker than hers, even if it wasn't specifically a Black person, which makes it wrong in their eyes.

You can check out Alyssa Milano's tweet below.

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While 30 Rock co-creator Tina Fey and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence were specifically part of the push to get offending episodes of their shows off the air, it's not likely that Alyssa Milano will request for Funny or Die to take the video off the Internet at any point. And I can't see the comedy studio volunteering to take it down, either. So the debate will likely continue at least until more celebrities' questionable behavior gets put under the microscope.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more on this story and others when updates are available. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Summer 2020 TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.