Since its premiere in 2014, ABC’s hit comedy Black-ish has received critical praise for its ability to mix comedy with adept social commentary.
Created by Kenya Barris, the show has tackled everything from who can use the n-word and police brutality, to the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and postpartum depression. While ABC has given the Black-ish team freedom to push the envelope, taking shots at the NFL seems to be out of the question.
Recently, Variety learned that ABC pulled a socially and politically charged episode of Black-ish because of “creative differences” with Barris. Titled “Please, Baby, Please,” the episode was slated to air on February 27 but was replaced by a rerun because Barris and the network couldn’t agree on the final product.
“One of the things that has always made Black-ish so special is how it deftly examines delicate social issues in a way that simultaneously entertains and educates,” an ABC spokesperson told Variety. “However, on this episode, there were creative differences we were unable to resolve.”
During the episode, which was filmed back in November, Dre (Anthony Anderson) tries to get his infant son, DeVante, to fall asleep while a thunderstorm rages outside. To calm the baby down, Dre tells DeVante a story about the current state of the country. The episode also reportedly included a debate between Dre and his eldest son, Junior (Marcus Scribner), about NFL players choosing to protest during the National Anthem.
Barris told Variety that after clashing with the network, he wasn’t happy with where the episode was heading and agreed with the decision to pull it from this season’s lineup.
“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” he said. “Black-ish is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community and I’m so proud of the series.”
Over the last four seasons, millions have tuned in to Black-ish each week making it one of ABC’s most popular shows. As the series’ creator and showrunner, Barris has also become in demand in Hollywood. In addition to his hit sitcom and its spin-off, Grown-ish, Barris is working on a pilot for NBC called Bright Futures, an animated film inspired by Bob Marley’s music, and sequels to both Coming to America and Shaft.