In the first episode of the fourth series, which aired in the US on Sunday (30.09.07), Teri Hatcher’s character, Susan, goes for a medical check-up and is horrified when the doctor suggests she may be going through the menopause.
The gynaecologist tells her: “Listen, Susan, I know for a lot of women the word ‘menopause’ has negative connotations. You hear ‘ageing,’ ‘brittle bones,’ ‘loss of sexual desire.’ ”
To which Susan replies: “OK, before we go any further, can I check these diplomas? Just to make sure they aren’t, like, from some med school in the Philippines?”
More than 30,000 infuriated viewers have signed an online petition, seeking an apology from the ABC network.
The petition read: “A statement that devalues Filipinos in healthcare is extremely unfounded, considering the overwhelming presence of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the medical field.”
ABC responded to the complaints saying they were considering editing the episode.
The statement said: “The producers of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offence caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.
“As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs.”
Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he intends to write to the producers to ask for an apology.