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For five seasons, Fringe’s Dr. Walter Bishop had an abundance of names for Astrid: Asgard, Astro, Asterisk, and the list goes on and on. It was a quip that began in the early days of the show and while many fans loved it, it may have not been so great in hindsight, despite the non-malicious intent behind the joke. Current The Good Doctor star Jasika Nicole recently spoke up about dealing with that Fringe joke, with former co-star John Noble apologizing for taking part in the “disrespectful” running gag during the Fox series’ run.
Here’s what happened. Over on Twitter, a fan responded to a Fringe thread started by Batwoman writer and former journalist Natalie Abrams, noting that they loved Astrid’s relationship with Walter. The fan mentioned in just the fact that, no matter what, Walter always managed to get Astrid’s name wrong. Fringe alum Jasika Nicole responded to the tweet, addressing the long-running joke and the reasons she wasn’t okay with it. Here’s what she wrote:
As a black woman with a name that white people seem to find incredibly difficult to pronounce, sometimes knowingly using the wrong name for me, I always thought it was a pretty tasteless joke and hated that it lasted the whole 5 seasons of the show.
I can see that now. I apologize for anything I may have done to appear disrespectful.
The actress let John Noble know that it was okay because he didn’t write the scripts for Fringe. Still, I think it was thoughtful for Noble to apologize regardless. Jasika Nicole goes on to point out that she understood that the “spirit of the joke” was not lost on her initially, and that it was an indicator of Walter’s mental health at the time.
However, she says that it became “bullying and racist” once Walter knew who she was and then continued to get her name wrong anyway. What’s more, the Fringe vet mentioned that she never said anything because the show was not a safe space for her.
Fringe has been over for seven and a half years at this point, but several Black actresses have spoken up recently regarding how they’ve been treated on the sets of their jobs. Former America’s Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union alleged that there was a toxic work environment on set and that she faced racial discrimination during her time on the show. Meanwhile, Glee vet Samantha Ware reportedly experienced “traumatic microaggressions” from co-star Lea Michele.
Fringe is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. For more on what to watch in the coming months, be sure to check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.