‘Black-ish’ Creator Kenya Barris Left ABC After Network Refuses To Air Ant-Trump Episode
BLACK-ISH CREATOR KENYA BARRIS EXPLAINS WHY HE LEFT ABC FOR NETFLIX
“Please, Baby, Please” was the show’s so-called anti-Trump episode and Barris’ breaking point with ABC. The episode likely would have made headlines had it aired for its blend of symbolism (Anthony Anderson‘s character would have told his son a bedtime story about the “Shady King”) and real-world events, directly showing footage of President Donald Trump reacting to the Charlottesville attacks and the NFL’s protests.
Instead, it made the news for a different reason: ABC decided against broadcasting the episode, which was slated to air on Feb. 27. Evidently, this decision was made mere days before its intended airdate. Barris notes that ABC did try editing the episode to omit some of its political commentary, but the sheer number of edits made that impossible.
Barris was aware there were doubts cast over the episode, citing “some concern about partisanship and the way the episode was angled and the balance in terms of some of the stories.” Nevertheless, he was unhappy with the studio and desired to break his contract with them despite re-signing it recently.
Additionally, Barris told The Hollywood Reporter that he does not think highly of Disney-ABC Television Group’s president Ben Sherwood, saying, “The way that [he] chose to deal with me in this particular episode, I felt a way about it and I still do. He’d make it seem like it was an open environment but really it wasn’t, and those are things I see very clearly. Everyone wants to say it’s open arms, but just tell me it’s not and I’ll respect you more.”
Among his grievances, Barris was disappointed with his former employer for failing to back his other projects and ideas. Of the pitches Barris made that ABC passed on, his Libby & Malcolm pilot stung the most. It would have starred Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance as a politically active interracial couple, although they would have sat on different ends of the political spectrum.
Barris was also preparing to speak out against ABC over Roseanne Barr and her sitcom. When explaining why, the 44-year-old producer bluntly said, “Because **** Roseanne. She’s a ****in’ monster. And they were like, ‘Why is this monster killing villagers?’ And I was like, ‘Because that’s what a monster does.'” Although Black-ish benefited from a ratings boost from airing right after Roseanne, it brought about an association between the two programs Barris was not comfortable with.