Disney Channel planned to air an episode of Jessie called “Quitting Cold Koala” today March 17, 2013. The episode had one story line about Luke (Cameron Boyce) being too attached to his Koala. Jessie (Debby Ryan) was going to ask him to give up Kenny for one night. The other story line was about Zuri’s (Skai Jackson) friend Stuart (JJ Totah) visiting the Ross Family for the weekend. Stuart has several food allergies including an allergy to Gluten.
The episode was available for fans to watch On Demand before the time it aired. Many fans were upset about some of the jokes and the way Stuart’s food allergies were handled. The Disney Channel decided to pull the episode and posted this message on its Facebook page:
To our viewers, we received your feedback about tonight’s “Jessie” episode which some of you accessed early on Video-on-Demand. We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet. Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family. We value your feedback and thank you for watching Disney Channel.
The episode contained several references to food allergies and made jokes about them.
1. In the episode Stuart asks Bertrum if the pancakes he’s made for breakfast are Gluten-Free. Bertrum replies, “Well
They’re Glue Free!”
2. Jessie says she received a five page list of Stuart’s allergies.
3. At one point, Zuri throws a pancake at Stuart’s face and he shrieks “Gluten”
And wipes his face worried about having a reaction. Zuri smiles and looks happy with herself.
4. Stuart sets up a picnic for Emma and asks “Don’t you want any Gluten Free Sparkling Cider?”
Miley Cyrus has said she had a gluten allergy and gluten makes people with Celiac Disease extremely ill. Some food allergies such as a peanut allergy can be life threatening. Kenton Duty who played Gunther on Shake it Up has several food allergies including chocolate and wheat. He is an advocate for children and teens with food allergies and partners with FAAN.
click here to learn more about Food Allergies and the organization Kenton Supports
Sadly, kids with food allergies are often bullied.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recently reported that 79 percent of children with food allergies surveyed reported that they had been bullied because of their food allergy, and 57 percent of the children said that the bully harassed them or touched them with the food to which they are allergic. (The study, “Bullying Among Pediatric Patients With Food Allergies,” was published in the journal Pediatrics.)
Disney Channel has pulled two other episodes. In 2008, Hannah Montana planned to air an episode dealing with Oliver’s Diabetes. The original episode did not air but did air with new scenes that were dealt with the problem with more sensitivity.
In 2011, an episode of Shake It Up was also pulled after Demi Lovato tweeted about the episode claiming it made fun of eating disorders. In the episode called Party it Up, an adult model says to Rocky and Cece, “I could just eat you up, well, if I ate.”
Disney Channel also choose to not air the season 2 Shake it Up premiere featuring Rocky And CeCe strapped to the wings of a small plane when it was scheduled. Two small planes crashed at air shows right around the same time. The channel aired the 3rd episode called Shrink it Up first. Then aired Shake it up, up and away a few weeks later.
We all love to laugh and love Disney shows but there are just some things writers should not be making fun of!
Special thanks to twitter friends
@d_m_elms and @garrett_palmer for helping me understand what happened with the episode!