Disney Channel Pulls ‘JESSIE’ Episode for Controversial Gluten-Free Jokes

by: on | in Entertainment News | 11 Comments

Disney Channel

Disney Channel

Outraged. That’s how some parents felt after watching the latest episode of JESSIE, “Quitting Cold Koala,” which mocked the issue of Celiac disease.

The controversial show, which was supposed to air on Disney Channel May 17, drew attention to a 9-year-old boy named Stuart, who was incapable of consuming gluten due to his health condition.

According to Entertainment Weekly, when the character “gives 8-year-old Zuri a gift basket, she rejects the gift and tells him that if he calls her “sweetie” again, he’ll “be eating some gluten-free knuckles.” Zuri also tosses a pancake at Stuart, causing him to shriek “Gluten!” and cower, wiping his face furiously. (“He makes me look macho,” quips Zuri’s brother Ravi.)”

One mother, Amy Raslevich, who caught the episode early via VOD (Video on Demand), went so far as to write a petition, calling for the network to “stop bullying gluten-intolerant children.” She says, “For my kids, this is real. They have had friends make fun of their food, been disinvited to parties because of their diet. They have been made to sit alone, have had waitstaff roll their eyes and snidely comment about their requests to make their food safe for them to eat. Their condition is real, and their feelings are real, yet Disney gave children permission, and an example, to further isolate my children and others like them because of their medical conditions.”

After there were enough signatures on the petition, Disney yanked the show from the schedule, and released the following statement: “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.”

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  • Josette

    I completely understand why this was removed. There’s enough bullying going on in the world and to celiacs kids don’t need more amo. People die from celiac disease. I have it myself and can’t explain how serious it is. Celiac is NO laughing matter.

  • Julianna

    I am 9 years old and I have celiac disease. Jessie is one of my favorite shows but I did feel a little hurt… I get sad and mad when I can’t eat things others eat, it makes me feel left out, but I rather feel healthy with no stomach aches.

    • Will

      It’s ok bro, don’t feel left out. Trust me, it doesn’t matter what you can eat, it’s all about your personality.

  • Kate

    I agree with these moms. My sister, two of my aunts, and my cousin all have celiacs and have a rough time with it. My sister can never have the sweets or just normal meals we have, instead we have to buy her dry, expensive, and tastless crap because that is all she can eat. Whenever she even has minor traces of gluten or even sometimes if she makes a sandwich for one of us using normal bread, she has horrible stomach cramps for at least a month as well as giant and itchy hives all over her body. One of the reasons I dont like Disney shows or just kids shows in general is how stereotypical they have become. I am a straight A student and a tech nerd, but dress and act just like everyone else. If you have a smart kid in a tv show, they wear a sweater vest and slacks, have huge glasses, only care about school, have no friends except fellow “nerds”, and have allergies. A normal person doesnt exist in tv, only people who are smart, which in tv means they are a protégé of some sort, and if they are not that then they are stupid, and i mean REALLY stupid. They cant even pass the easiest classes, all the girls fall after them, and they have never picked a book up in their lives (and refuse to). Then the parents and adults are always oblivious and stupid.They never seem to care or notice what the kids are doing, and they are no smarter than the “stupid” kids. Then, they always portray them as weird and strange. Never is a parent normal either. Again, they are either “nerds”, “stupid”, or just super extremely wacky. I just have no faith in tv or kids anymore.

  • my opinion

    I think the whole situation was over exaggerated. I get that people have a problem with gluten, but it wasn’t that bad comparing to some other shows. I mean, comedy doesn’t exist without people poking at things. it’s not like they said something like “I don’t eat” or “skinny is the only way to fame” like shake it up and so random did. also, a lot of disney and pixar moves make sexual innuendos and they get away with it? that’s okay? plus, disney has a no bullying campaign so why would they write something like that? don’t you think disney would have thought about it first? & I’ve seen people with gluten issues/have friends with gluten issues saying that they laughed at it. also, debby has friends with gluten problems so why would she let the joke slide if she thought it was harsh? debby also makes gluten free brownies. and the writer of that episode stated that she has never made fun of a disease with her writing. I think they just blew it out of the water. anyways, I hope they air the episode without the scene another time. I get why people would be sensitive to it, but you also to have to not take things so seriously. life is about having a sense of humor. I don’t think the writers/directors/disney meant anything by it. not that bad. people are more upset about them canceling the episode than the fact that they made a joke that didn’t appeal to some over protective parents.

    • Don

      You have no clue what you are talking about. You don’t have Celiac, do you. You don’t know anyone who does, do you? Learn about Celiac. It is not issues with gluten. For me, it is life and death. Cancer from Celiac is no laughing matter. Remove your comment if possible.

      • none ya

        omg its a tv series there is far more worse things on tv everybody is getting to serious with stupid things and before you say anything i have family with celiac and we take it serious but we dont get butt hurt everytime somebody says something about it in a joking way people need to learn how to lighten up it was funny get over it

  • Rachael

    I totally understand treating sensitive topics sensitively but COME ON!
    This world (the USA specifically) has become so over-sensitive and “politically correct” lately that it’s ridiculous.

  • Sammy

    I didn’t see this episode.

  • Ali

    I watched that episode, and didn’t think of the gluten thing as anything but funny until now.

  • Julia

    I totally understand why this was removed. I have nut allergies and it can be a very scary thing. One peanut butter cup and I could be history. It’s not really something to joke about. I understand that it was all in good fun, and am not mad, but it is still kinda offensive…