Following a social media uproar that prompted Netflix to remove an episode of the children’s show “Maya the Bee” that included a drawing of what appeared to be a penis in the background, the French production company behind the cartoon has apologized.
“An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series,” Studio 100 said in a statement obtained by Variety. “The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production.”
The vulgar image was discovered by U.S. viewers who shared screenshots of the questionable scenes on social media. Parent Chey Robinson’s Facebook post of the offending clip from Season 1, Episode 35 of the series was among the first to go viral.
“Please be mindful of what your kids are watching. I did NOT edit any images whatsoever, this is ‘Maya the Bee,’ Season 1, Episode 35,” she wrote on Facebook. “I know I’m not going crazy and I know that something like this shouldn’t be in a kids’ show whatsoever. I’m extremely disgusted by it, there should be no reason my kids have to see something like this. I don’t know if they’re gonna do something about this or what, but there’s no reasons why this should be in this show.”
The European cartoon “Maya the Bee,” based on a children’s book series published in 1912, debuted in 2012. Netflix only distributes the show about an adventurous young bee, created by Studio 100 Animation.
Although Studio 100 Group stated that “legal action has already been started,” the company’s Paris-based managing director, Katell France, told Variety that they were not able to press legal charges against the artist who drew the image at this point because he or she has not yet been identified. The producer said the image had been inserted during the compositing or layout stages on which more than 150 people worked.
“We are desperately searching for the person who did this, but it is a complicated task, considering the large number of people who were involved in France and Asia,” France said.
In the meantime, Studio 100 Animation’s managing director said the company recreated the segment with the appropriate background and re-inserted it in a master that they are in the process of delivering to more than 100 broadcasters and services.
“This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values,” the company’s statement reads. “Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all ‘Maya the Bee’ fans.”
The animation work on “Maya the Bee” was done out of the company’s studios in France and Asia. The show is a French-German co-production commissioned by TF1 and ZDF.