The Adult Swim Show That Delighted the Alt-Right
Being “extreme” is sort of the point of Adult Swim, an after-dark playground for comic minds to push the boundaries of good taste and even of what qualifies as comedy. But Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace pushed right through those barriers into another place entirely, comedy so egregious that the network’s other stars shouted it down in public.
The 2016 show’s premise: A post-apocalyptic dystopia, occurring in the very near future, was the setting for sketches that commented on our current political climate. The bits were performed by comedy group Milion Dollar Extreme, led by its leader Sam Hyde. And according to Ken Jennings in Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture, the show “debuted on Adult Swim and became an instant hit among the “alt-right.”
It’s not hard to understand why. As Jennings explains, white nationalist message boards had a field day dissecting sketches in which Hyde appeared in blackface screaming at a woman, kids played around in a TV parody called Jews Rock and Black contestants competed in a reality show by bragging about thousands of dollars received in disability payments.
Since-deleted Twitter accounts praised World Peace, calling it “the only non-cucked TV show” and “redpilled TV” that “will save the west,” according to BuzzFeed. Adult Swim stood by the show at first, releasing a statement declaring that its “reputation and success with its audience has always been based on strong and unique comedic voices. Million Dollar Extreme’s comedy is known for being provocative with commentary on societal tropes, and though not a show for everyone, the company serves a multitude of audiences and supports the mission that is specific to Adult Swim and its fans.”
But it was hard to continue to endorse its message. Hyde used his Twitter account to blast progressive celebs, calling Lena Dunham a “fat pig” and accusing Patton Oswalt of killing his wife. But as Jennings points out, the show lasted longer than it might have by hiding behind irony — instead of being racist, anti-Semitic or misogynistic, the show could claim it was making a satirical comment about such hatred. It took public criticism from other Adult Swim stars like Brett Gelman and Tim Heidecker for the network to finally pull the plug.
After Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace was canceled, Hyde continued to play the “we think he’s joking?” card. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he thanked the outlet for “giving a racist like me a platform to spew my hate.” But wait, Hyde added: “I’m kidding. I’m just messing with you.”
Hyde’s ultimate defense of his show was comparing it to other aughts comedies that haven’t exactly aged well. “I’m not a very well-spoken comedy historian here, but what we did is not much different than Eric Andre having swastikas on his show and his joke, ‘Everybody hates kikes.’ It’s not that different from what Sarah Silverman does with putting blackface on,” he argued.
His ultimate understanding of why his show got the axe? “We came under fire — I don’t know why. Probably because we aren’t anti-white.”