Bill Lawrence, the former showrunner of Scrubs and Cougar Town, among others, is currently killing it as showrunner of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, arguably the best new show of 2020 and — along with Mythic Quest — the best reason to subscribe to Apple TV. Lawrence, however, has had a tumultuous history with network television, so he’s probably very happy to be working in an environment with far fewer restrictions, especially now that Ted Lasso has been renewed for two more seasons (and according to Lawrence, Lasso is a planned, three-season TV series).
That freedom did not always exist for Lawrence, and back in his Scrubs days, he had to deal with Standards and Practices, otherwise known as the TV censors. The way that Standards and Practices applies the rules has always been a little inexplicable, but in this week’s episode of the “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” podcast, Lawrence provides an example of one of the more absurd applications.
It involved Scrubs‘ Christmas episode in 2004, “My Rule of Thumb,” and what Standards and Practices did in this episode “drove [Lawrence] insane.” The episode centers on a patient with terminal cancer, and as originally written, Elliot and Carla were “out and about” trying to help the cancer patient deal with the pain by finding her some marijuana (this was before medical marijuana was commonly available). When Lawrence handed the script in, however, Standards and Practices told him they couldn’t air an episode where a “physician and nurse are driving around trying to find someone they can buy pot off of.”
Baffled, Lawrence offered another suggestion, which would both offer an “easy fix” and reveal the “hypocrisy” of Standards and Practices. Instead of having the cancer patient search for weed, “we had the woman who was dying be a virgin and Elliot and Carla go look for a man-whore so she can get laid.” When Lawrence turned that into Standards, they said, they said laughed, said it was funny, and that it “was fine” to air.
“So, even though it’s proven by so many medical studies that” marijuana is effective for patients dealing with the side effects of chemo, “doctors can’t go get a patient who is dying some marijuana, but they can go anywhere to get them a man-whore so she can have sex in a hospital.” TV censorship is weird.
Side note: It’s probably worth tracking down this episode of Scrubs, because it was the one where Kelso introduced his most famous catchphrase: “What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap? This guy.”
Source: Fake Doctors, Real Friends