All these years later who would’ve suspected that we missed a potential marijuana-themed episode of Scrubs. Now critics and popular culture haven’t remembered Scrubs as fondly as its fans—it’s my favorite sitcom ever—but a recent reunion panel for the show at Vulture Fest Los Angeles revealed Scrubs experienced a rough transition when it changed networks from NBC to ABC.
According to star Zach Braff, pushback from Disney-owned ABC ensued when Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence wrote a plotline including a cancer patient who uses medical marijuana to deal with her treatments.
“We only shot one thing ever that Bill had to throw out, ” Braff said. “That many years ago, they were like, ‘Medicinal marijuana? Get the hell out of here!’”
To see just where ABC would and wouldn’t draw the lines, Lawrence conceived of another plot involving the cancer patient and male prostitutes. When he pitched it their way, he received the greenlight.
“We had this story about getting medicinal marijuana for somebody who was having trouble with chemo and cancer,” Lawrence said. “So to make a point, I said, ‘What if the patient was a virgin and decided they want to have sex for the first time and Carla and Elliot wanted to go looking for a male prostitute for him?’ They said, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ We could get a prostitute, just not medicinal marijuana.”
Medical cannabis plotlines weren’t the only difficulty the Scrubs team found at ABC. A recurring gag on the show involves actor Robert Maschio, a.k.a. the overtly sexual Dr. Todd, and his obsession with banana hammocks. Well, ABC wasn’t down with the banana hammock.
“When we moved from NBC to ABC we were no longer allowed to show Rob in his banana hammock. We had to frame above his penis,” Braff said.
Not being down with medical marijuana or banana hammocks isn’t much of a surprise coming from family-friendly Disney. Still it shows how far we’ve already come with marijuana’s place in culture, as now entire sitcoms revolve around medical cannabis, not just one banned episode.