A season 12 episode of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants entitled “Kwarantined Crab” was recently pulled from Paramount+ “due to sensitivities surrounding the global, real-world pandemic,” according to Nickelodeon’s Executive Vice President of Communications David Bittler, via NBC News. It was additionally revealed, as a part of this announcement, that a season 3 episode – “Mid-Life Crustacean” – had been quietly removed from rotation in 2018.
The ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ episode ‘Kwarantined Crab’ has been pulled over ‘sensitivities’ with the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/8ScXxs7dTY
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) March 31, 2021
“Mid-Life Crustacean” saw SpongeBob and best friend Patrick Star take Krusty Krab boss Mr. Krabs on a panty raid in order to help him feel young again. Though NBC News describes the long-running children’s show as “arguably written to also appeal to adults,” this episode was ultimately deemed too inappropriate for the program’s core audience. The season three episode no longer appears on Paramount+ or Amazon Video, which hosts seasons one through six of SpongeBob SquarePants.
While the suggestive content in “Mid Life Crustacean” lead to the episode being cycled out back in 2018, the explanation behind pulling “Kwarantined Crab” has been lees direct. Many outlets, such as Entertainment Weekly, concluded that the sensitive content referenced by Bittler has less to do with the global pandemic and more to do with the resulting rise in anti-Asian violence, which has recently become a topic of national conversation. “The episode’s storyline reflects feelings of increased isolation and hatred that many Asian communities have experienced since the Covid-19 pandemic began,” CNN extrapolated from the since-removed season 12 episode of the animated series.
Unlike “Mid Life Crustacean”, “Kwarantined Crab” appears to have been pulled before officially airing for US audiences.
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NBC News compares Nickelodeon’s reassessment of certain SpongeBob SquarePants episodes to similar trends in the publishing industry, such as Dr. Seuss publisher’s decision to stop printing select titles which contain racist incidents or narratives.
According to Deadline, “SpongeBob SquarePants has reigned as the No. 1 kids’ animated series on TV for the past 18 years […] averaging more than 100 million total viewers every month.” As such, availability of the animated series and its new spin-offs Kamp Koral and The Patrick Star Show have played an vital role in Paramount+’s roll-out.