PETA members are planning to dress in black and wear monkey masks outside Rockefeller Center in order to protest the new series Animal Practice, the new sitcom starring a capuchin monkey named Crystal. In a press release, the animal-rights group’s senior vice-president Lisa Lange stated: “The cheap laughs that Animal Practice gets from putting a monkey in a lab coat come at a heavy cost for animals who spend their lives deprived of everything that is natural and important to them.” New York‘s Vulture blog features today a post by producer Gavin Polone, who also objects to the series, citing a primate veterinarian’s diagnosis: “Crystal’s natural response to a threat, sometimes called a fear grimace, has been reinforced and used in the show. This expression is often interpreted by the uninformed as a smile or laugh. But during her training, at some point the stimulus of fear had to be introduced.”
Animal Practice represents, for NBC, an attempt to appeal to the sort of broad audiences that have eluded higher-brow experimental series like 30 Rock or Community. Protests or no, it’s hard to imagine this show getting pulled from the air before the end of the season.