Culture

'Schitt’s Creek’ Fans Blast Comedy Central India for Being Homophobic

Comedian and podcast host Navin Noronha talks about his experience working on a show for the TV channel, and why he agrees with the backlash.
October 9, 2020, 8:42am
schitt's creek david and ted kiss comedy central india
Left: The cast of Schitt's Creek. Right: A screenshot of the kiss that was chopped out in a Twitter promo of the show by Comedy Central India

Comedy Central India has been struggling to find footing in India. As compared to its American counterpart, which hosts legendary shows like Roast and South Park, all we get in India are reruns of Friends, 2 Broke Girls and Impractical Jokers for the billionth time. Thanks to Indian censorship rules, most of their content from other countries don’t make it here. And if they do, they face the brutal axe in the editing room. No one considers Comedy Central India a breakthrough channel by any means. I have always wondered why Viacom 18, the parent company, has this awful channel hanging like a bad appendicitis by its side.

However, the channel did manage to grab some eyeballs recently when they cashed in on the Emmys hype and began broadcasting Schitt’s Creek after the show dominated the awards season

Schitt’s Creek, created by the father-son duo of Eugene and Dan Levy, is a story of a wealthy family forced to move to a small suburban town and run a motel after they lose all their money. The endearing show portrayed several queer characters who blended in with the straight folk without any hullaballoo, which made it a cult favourite before finding international acclaim. But there was apprehension of course, given that the show has characters who live their truth freely. And all my apprehensions came to the fore on October 7, when the channel released a clip from their edited version of the show on Twitter.

The clip in question is the famous Spin the Bottle scene where different characters get drunk and end up kissing each other. It’s all fun and games until the bottle lands on David (Dan Levy) and Ted (Dustin Milligan). The two then have to kiss each other and Ted (who plays a straight role on the show), goes all out and kisses David (a pansexual character). But none of it made it to the promo clip. Oh wait, did I mention that another same-sex kiss and a straight kiss from the same scene before were shown fully? If same-sex kisses are not allowed on TV, it should’ve applied to all scenarios. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. 

Even when Dan Levy—the co-creator of the show who plays David on it—took to Twitter to air his grievance and ended it with #LoveisLove, no official statement has come from the channel yet. 

Fans, of course, have been pissed too.

Comedy Central India hasn’t bothered rectifying its mistake, and soon went on to post another clip from Friends. Classic. 

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A Comedy Central International spokesperson claimed that the kiss will be aired in its entirety on television, but the marketing material was run during kids’ promotional time slot. This again, seems like a last minute Hail Mary to salvage the channel’s image. Kids don’t sexualise kissing. It’s the adults who decide how the kids see it. 

I have also been personally miffed by the channel, because last year, I was shoehorned into the comedy reality show Sterling Reserve Comedy Project as their token gay character. As compared to other contestants, I felt that all they focused on about me was the gay thing—like they were desperate to get the validation they so obviously lacked. But when it came to addressing my queer life through my comedy, my set was butchered miserably. I had no say and no choice, but to watch years of material being treated like a DIY crafts project.

Other contestants on the show shared their respective experiences as well (and they were not good).

Yet there was no accountability from the channel and they gladly went ahead with a second season of the show. 

People have been asking Comedy Central India for a clarification from the channel about the Schitt’s Creek cut, but so far there has been none, which kind of might be their gameplan considering I too had approached them on their Instagram handle when my set aired on it with my concerns, but was ignored entirely (though they were oh-so-friendly when they needed me to promote my show). 

Go figure.

Follow Navin Noronha on Twitter.