Movies - TV
Disney Freaked Out About This Recess Episode, Calling It
a 'Critique
of Religion'
Disney animation “Recess’” Season 1 finale, "Swing on Thru to the Other Side," almost didn’t air because Disney thought it was criticizing religion. In an interview, co-creator Joe Ansolabehere recalled how Disney executive Barry Blumberg brought the episode back to the table after the idea had initially been rejected by the studio’s standards and practices department.
In the episode, Spinell thinks Swinger Girl has swung herself into a different dimension after making a full circle around the swingset and convinces the students at Third Street School that Swinger Girl is no ordinary kid, and inadvertently starts a cult centered on the miracle of Swinger Girl. However, it turns out that Swinger Girl just got off the swingset to go on vacation.
The criticism of cults and false prophets was intentional according to Ansolabehere, who said, "I was really proud of what it was and what it said about cults, the formation of cults, and how we get ideas and we just can't let them go and how we shift reality to mean something else." Disney, however, wasn’t so keen on the idea and rejected it, saying, "'You can't criticize religion, we're Disney.'”
When Blumberg brought the episode back to life and the “Recess” team completed it, a Disney higher up watched it and rejected it again as “a critique of religion.” Blumberg, however, reminded the unidentified executive that "by contract, we can't have another re-run at ABC," so Disney did air it with the intention of never airing it again.
However, while Disney was expecting an angry onslaught, it turned out they were worried over nothing. Ansolabehere explained, “I think it didn't air maybe that next season again, but then eventually they just said, 'Ah, whatever,' and put it out, because they didn't get any letters. They expected, 'We're going to get a lot of letters. People are going to be [furious],' but nobody cared."