Advertisements for Fox’s new television series Red Band Society were ripped from the sides of Los Angeles Metro buses Thursday after residents claimed the language on the ads was offensive and racist.
The new series focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers who are forced to live in the hospital due to a variety of different life-threatening medical problems.
The advertisements for the new show branded each member of the cast with a different slogan.
One character’s title branded him as the “Coma Boy” while another star was “The Player.”
Octavia Spencer, the show’s only prominent Black female character, was labeled “Scary Bitch.”
While the ad was attempting to reference Spencer’s character’s no-nonsense attitude on the show, the ad left residents of L.A. with a bad taste in their mouths.
During a time when Hollywood has already been criticized for its poor portrayal of African-Americans and forcing many Black women to fit into stereotypical character roles such as the “angry black woman” or “mammy,” the timing of the ad couldn’t have been worse.
One resident, a 36-year-old Black woman, said she was offended by the ad on multiple fronts.
“I don’t know if I find it more offensive because I’m Black, or more offensive because I’m a woman,” she told the LA Times. “I sometimes think our city forgets that there are Black people that still live here and call Los Angeles home.”
After backlash toward the ads continued to pour in on social media, both Fox officials and Metro executives agreed that the ads needed to be pulled.
“Metro Los Angeles ultimately decided to take down the ads, and we respect that decision,” a spokeswoman for Fox said. “We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers.”
Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Marc Littman said the language used in the ad “denigrates women” and that the Metro buses should not be used to support that kind of message.
Although the ads have been taken down now, they were plastered on the sides of the buses for five weeks before any major complaints were made.
In addition to the controversy over the advertisements, the show failed to earn many positive reviews with its premiere episode on Sept. 17.
The Hollywood Reporter slammed the show as Fox’s “attempt to find a heart” that was ruined by “lame voiceovers.”
Several publications referred to the series as a twisted version of The Breakfast Club and a distorted view of America’s health care.
Other reviews mocked the show for its portrayal of cancer patients.
The New Yorker wrote that the show “isn’t especially interested in the downside of terminal illness” but perhaps took the happy-go-lucky approach too far.
“Everyone is Abercrombie hot; cancer, in this world, seems suspiciously correlated with high cheekbones,” The New Yorker’s review continues. “It’s basically Glee plus Grey’s Anatomy, with a streak of Scrubs and a touch of The Lovely Bones.”