Happy Endings Joke
Credit: Randy Holmes/ABC

The news isn’t the only place on television inundated with Osama bin Laden this week. While the 24-hour news networks have had non-stop coverage about the death of the terrorist leader, regular network series have found themselves caught up in the mania, too. While the folks over at South Park hit the writers room in record time to work an Osama bin Laden death joke into their latest episode, the freshman ABC sitcom Happy Endings hit a bit of a timely cultural reference snafu when a “finding bin Laden” punchline appeared on last night’s ep, called “Of Mice & Jazz-Kwon-Do.”

During the scene in question, exes Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) discuss the difficulties of trapping a mouse that’s been running around her apartment. “It’s been like, four days, I can’t believe you haven’t caught this mouse yet,” she tells him, to which he replies, “I know, he’s like my bin Laden. Jessica bin Laden, this super hot Arab girl I went to college with.”

Never mind that this wasn’t Happy Endings‘ best zinger (that one belonged to the newly-coined phrase “gay-cist”) but how weird it is that this happened to air this week? And they weren’t even the only ones with a pre-death Osama bin Laden reference in it: During Chuck, Casey (Adam Baldwin) shows off a variety of shooting targets they can use when before heading to a range. One of the images used on the targets? You guessed it, bin Laden. Bizarre.

You’ve got to wonder if the people behind Happy Endings or Chuck briefly considered editing the bin Laden bits before the episodes hit the air (though NBC would have had considerably less time to change Chuck, which aired on Monday, May 2, exactly one day after the huge news was announced). And not even for the matter of being PC, so much as for continuity’s sake.

Even Oprah Winfrey thought about doing some tinkering with her show because of the bin Laden news. On Sunday evening, the talk show host pondered via Twitter whether or not she would air the long-anticipated interview she conducted with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, which was taped before bin Laden was killed. “Trying to decide what to do about tomorrow’s show with prez that was taped last week. Show will feel dated because we taped last week. Not even a hint of Osama’s demise,” she wrote to followers. But, like Chuck, Happy Endings, South Park, and every late night talk show, Oprah opted the show must go on, with or without bin Laden.

Were you surprised to hear the Osama bin Laden joke in last night’s Happy Endings, too, PopWatchers?

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