The long-awaited revival of the cult-classic animated comedy Clone High is set to debut on HBO Max on May 23rd, 2023, but one character from the show’s initial run on MTV won’t be in it. Mahatma Gandhi, one of the main characters of Clone High‘s first season, has been removed from the series because of the controversy surrounding him. For new fans who want to know what their elders are upset about, here is a summary of the controversy surrounding Clone High‘s interpretation of Gandhi.
Why Was Clone High’s Depiction of Gandhi Controversial?
Like every other teenage character in Clone High, Gandhi is a self-aware clone of the famous historical figure he shares his name with. Serving as the show’s primary form of comedy relief, Clone High‘s version of Gandhi was a hyperactive party animal who jumped at any opportunity to let loose. Whenever he was alone with his best friend Abraham “Abe” Lincoln, however, Gandhi was shown to be deeply insecure about his status as a clone and terrified that he would never be able to live up to his genetic template’s legacy.
Unfortunately, While Gandhi quickly became a fan-favorite amongst Clone High‘s growing audience, he would eventually become the epicenter of an unexpected controversy. While the first season of Clone High only aired in Canada and the United States on Teletoon and MTV, the show’s existence eventually became known to India through an unrelated incident involving an unflattering depiction of Gandhi that was featured in an issue of the adult magazine Maxim. As one would expect, Clone High’s take on the man who led the campaign that won India’s independence from the British Empire soon sparked outrage.
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Why Isn’t Gandhi in the Clone High Revival?
To protest against Clone High‘s depiction of Gandhi, one hundred and fifty people, including several members of the Parliament of India and Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, staged a hunger strike outside the headquarters of the Indian branch of MTV’s parent company Viacom. Tom Freston, then-CEO of Viacom, was visiting India and was allegedly trapped within the building by the protest. Freston would later claim that protesters threatened to launch a campaign to revoke MTV’s Indian broadcast license if Clone High was not canceled.
In the wake of the protest, executives at MTV asked Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, Clone High‘s creators, to pitch a second season of the show that did not feature Gandhi. While Lord and Miller were able to craft two pitches for Clone High‘s second season, including one where Gandhi would be revealed to be a clone of comedian Gary Coleman, the decision was eventually made to cancel the show outright.
While MTV publicly claimed that they canceled Clone High because the show had been receiving low ratings, it’s clear that the controversy surrounding Gandhi played a role in that decision. Even before the upcoming second season was greenlit, Lord and Miller stated that Gandhi would not be featured in a potential Clone High revival. Fortunately for older Clone High fans, Gandhi’s role as comedic relief will be filled by a clone of the Chinese philosopher Confucious.
- This article was updated on May 10th, 2023