Kenya Barris’ ABC hit Black-ish has never shied away from political controversies; the show dives headlong into any number of conversations about life as a black person in modern America, from police brutality to the rise of Donald Trump. One recent episode of the series appears to have gone a little too far for the network’s tastes, though, with Variety reporting that a shelved installment of the series, originally scheduled for February 27, was pulled because of “creative differences” between Barris and ABC.
The episode in question, “Please, Baby, Please,” was shot last November, and centered on Anthony Anderson’s Dre trying to read a bedtime story to his infant son during a thunderstorm. Quickly abandoning the kids’ book he originally starts with, Dre begins improvising a story based in his anxieties about modern life; at one point, he also reportedly gets into an argument with his oldest son, Junior, about the politics of athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
According to both Barris and the network, neither side was ultimately comfortable with their disagreements about the episode’s content. “Given our creative differences,” Barris said, “Neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it.” ABC was equally diplomatic about the disagreement, with a spokesperson saying, “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. However, on this episode there were creative differences we were unable to resolve.”
The network is, presumably, very conscious of how important the show is to its brand; not only does the series continue to draw both strong ratings and critical acclaim, but it recently spun-off a well-regarded sister series, Grown-ish, over at Freeform.