Viewers who watched Tuesday’s popular premiere episode of NBC’s tear-inducing new show This Is Us with closed captioning turned on experienced a rude surprise when they read Sterling K. Brown’s character referring affectionately to his daughter as “my little bull dyke.” The on-screen text didn’t match the show’s audio, in which Brown’s Randall referred to his daughter without gay-slurring her: He called her “my little badass.”
I reached out to NBC for an explanation on what read like a prank from a mirthful captioner and this was the statement I received:
This was obviously a mistake, and those words never appeared in the broadcast. The closed captioning is being fixed for all subsequent distribution of the episode including online and VOD.
Indeed, the caption on Hulu now reflects the show’s audio:
How this happened would remain a mystery were it not for screeners of the show that were sent out to press earlier this year. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the “bull dyke” line was originally spoken by Brown’s character:
I reached out to NBC again for further clarification as to the decision-making behind the change. It’s crazy that the “bull dyke” line was ever conceived much less committed to tape, especially for a show fancied by its creator Dan Fogelman as an alternative to “dark and cynical” pop culture.
And NBC would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling captions.
Update: NBC has responded to my second query:
This was a very early cut and was not in the final copy of the show that the press was sent for review.
Indeed, the back of the DVD case with the “bull dyke” cut of the This Is Us pilot reads “NOT FOR REVIEW.”
[Thanks to SorayaQ for the heads up.]