There’s a running joke through the pilot of Hulu’s “Difficult People” — the new caustic scripted comedy executive produced by Amy Poehler — that has a big payoff at the end of the episode. It all starts when creator Julie Klausner’s character (she plays a wannabe comedy writer named Julie) fires off a tweet that reads, “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her.”
Blue Ivy, of course, is Beyoncé and Jay Z’s toddler daughter, while R. Kelly was accused in 2002 of urinating on (and having sex with) a teenage girl. During the episode, this ill-conceived joke causes a lot of problems for Julie, the star of the series along with her pal Billy (Billy Eichner), who also strives to be in showbiz.
“Uh oh. I tweeted something about Blue Ivy earlier and now the Internet is being really mean to me,” Julie complains to her boyfriend.
And in an extremely meta situation, some people of the real-life Internet are not pleased by the crack, either. Poehler, the producer who had an enormous amount of influence over the process, is seeing the brunt of the criticism:
— The Unorthodox Duck (@GeauxGabby) August 17, 2015
A joke about R. Kelly assaulting Blue Ivy is not a joke targeting him. It's making light of what he did and punching down at his victims
— .black (@JamilahLemieux) August 17, 2015
— Lela Victoria (@LelaV89) August 17, 2015
Hey, does Amy Poehler somehow think it's OK to make jokes about R-Kelly pissing on 3-year-old Blue Ivy? 'Cause damn http://t.co/ZPpAY7NKFr
— Fishwrapper (@fishwrapped) August 16, 2015
I canceled my Hulu subscription as soon as I heard they allowed Amy Poehler & her show Difficult People to say that Blue Ivy, R Kelly joke.
— ***Blue's Auntie (@reppingBey) August 18, 2015
While the critical tweets are piling up, it’s worth noting that the point of the joke is to illustrate the desperation Julie’s character will go to for a laugh — and that the tweet is so disgusting and inappropriate that it has severe consequences for Julie. It’s established that her character strives to gain notoriety and acceptance at any cost, even scouring Internet comments for a compliment. She tries to defend herself to her boyfriend, who is horrified by the tweet.
“I hate fighting with people,” Julie says of her Twitter backlash.”I just like saying something crazy and then leaving the room.” Then, she adds, “Unless people like what I say. Then I stay in the room.” Finally she concedes, “I’m going to delete this piss-baby tweet.”
Later, Julie gets in hot water when she tries to describe the tweet to an equally-shocked group of people at a party. She explains the joke: “Because you know, R. Kelly likes pissing on children who are older than infants, allegedly — but, you know, not by much,” she says. “I mean, he’s basically a sex offender. And depending on, you know, whether charges are true, allegedly a pedophile. Allegedly.”
Cue silence from her audience. “You think it’s funny to make jokes about urinating on children?” a woman asks, stunned.
“Obviously I don’t, because I took down the tweet,” Julie explains.
“You only took it down because you got in trouble!” the woman points out.
“Of course I did,” Julie says. “If people loved it, I would have left it up.”
There’s another visual gag at the end that shows the joke is clearly on Julie’s ignorance. Still, the Twitter criticism continues as some people don’t understand why the line even made it into the script in the first place.
Hulu, as well as reps for Poehler and Klausner, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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