Canceled 2018 'Black-ish' Political Episode Now Airing on Hulu
By Antoinette Bueno
A Black-ish politics-themed episode that was shelved by ABC in February 2018 is now airing on Hulu, series creator Kenya Barris announced Monday. The episode, titled "Please, Baby, Please," is named after the 2006 children's book written by director Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee.
The episode features Dre (Anthony Anderson) reading the book to his son Devante, and deals with institutional discrimination in America, discussing, among other things, President Donald Trump and NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality and systemic racism. While it was set to air in 2018, it was controversially shelved just days before its scheduled air date by ABC due to what a spokesperson for the network as well as Barris called "creative differences" at the time.
On Monday, Barris gave more background on the episode, which he said he made in November 2017.
"We were one year post-election and coming to the end of a year that left us, like many Americans, grappling with the state of our country and anxious about its future," Barris wrote on Instagram. "Those feelings poured onto the page, becoming 22 minutes of television that I was, and still am, incredibly proud of. 'Please, Baby, Please' didn't make it to air that season and, while much has been speculated about its contents, the episode has never been seen publicly… until now."
Barris thanked Walt Disney Television for agreeing to now make the episode available in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests after the death of George Floyd.
"I cannot wait for everyone to finally see the episode for themselves and, as was the case nearly three years ago, we hope it inspires some much-needed conversation -- not only about what we were grappling with then or how it led to where we are now, but conversations about where we want our country to go moving forward and, most importantly, how we get there together," Barris wrote. "Thank you to ABC Entertainment for allowing this moment to happen. And thank you to the entire 'black-ish' family for never shying away from tough conversations, making telling stories like this possible."
Back in June 2018, Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays family matriarch Rainbow on the show, called ABC's decision to pull the episode "frightening" during a Hollywood Reporter roundtable. The controversy also didn't sit right with Anderson.
"[Barris had] given his blood, sweat and tears to [the episode], which they had signed off on every step of the way -- from the outline, to the script, to the table read, to the point where they actually spent the money and made the episode," he told THR. "And I don't know what those conversations were, but we entered into this partnership with the understanding that we would be able to tell the stories that we wanted to tell."