The writers of “The Good Fight” were hit with online criticism this week for including a reference about Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant in a discussion about “cancel culture.”
The fourth episode of the Paramount+ legal drama features a scene in which Liz (played by Audra McDonald) and a television executive (Wayne Brady) talk about what topics can be used for comedy.
Their discussion prompts Jay (Nyambi Nyambi) to lament that comedians “need a permission slip to tell a joke.” After Jay wonders aloud which subjects would be considered off-limits, the character Jim (Ifádansi Rashad) responds, “Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant.”
After the episode aired, Gomez fans ― many of whom refer to themselves as “Selenators” ― expressed their distaste for the gibe against their idol on social media, prompting the phrase “RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ” to trend this week.
“Show some respect to her, she is such an unproblematic celebrity, she loves her Selenators so much,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She didn’t get the credit she deserves, Don’t make jokes on such an important issue.”
“How miserable do you have to be to take someone’s trauma/illness/struggles and use them for jokes, like just be a decent human being,” another added.
Representatives for “The Good Fight” did not comment on the matter Tuesday.
In 2017, Gomez revealed that she’d received a kidney transplant as a result of having Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause damage to many organs. Her donor was actor and longtime friend Francia Raisa.
“It was what I needed to do for my overall health,” Gomez wrote on Instagram at the time alongside a photo of her and Raisa holding hands in adjacent hospital beds.
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“The Good Fight” isn’t the first TV series to be called out for poking fun at Gomez’s kidney transplant.
In 2020, an episode of Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot faced backlash for a scene in which two characters playfully argue over who donated their kidney to the singer. Suggestions included Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber’s mother.
Days later, Peacock executives issued a statement apologizing for the episode and removed the scenes from the streaming platform.
“It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” the statement read. “We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”
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