Kenya Barris, the creator of the hit ABC hit show black-ish, has opened up about why he and the network decided to scrap an episode discussing NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Barris said the episode, “Please, Baby, Please,” covered President Donald Trump, the deadly Charlottesville rally and the NFL.
“When you’re putting a baby to sleep, you’re trying to soothe whatever anxieties they’re having,” said Barris. “So, this was about me trying to pat the butt of the country and soothe people.”
The episode was scheduled to air Feb. 27 but was pulled a few days before. ABC and Barris said at the time that “creative differences” lead to the episode being shelved.
The showrunner, who left ABC for a $100 million deal with Netflix in August, said he told network executives the episode wouldn’t be like other episodes they’ve aired before, per THR.
“We approached it with the network and the studio as, ‘This is different,’” he said. “We certainly knew people would talk about it.”
Barris spoke to higher-ups at Disney, ABC’s parent company, including CEO Bob Iger, and was told the episode, as it was written, would not appeal to those in red states.
“I know there was some concern about partisanship, and the way the episode was angled and the balance in terms of some of the stories,” Barris said. “On network TV, one of the things I’ve learned is that you have to talk about things from both sides.”