ABC Shelves Politically Charged 'black-ish' Episode Over 'Creative Differences'
ABC's hit family comedy series black-ish has never shied away from confronting social issues, but in the case of athletes who kneel during the national anthem, they're backing off entirely.
In a report from Variety, the episode, titled "Please, Baby, Please," had been scheduled to air Feb. 27 but was scrapped completely from the schedule due to "creative differences" between the network and the show's creator/showrunner Kenya Barris.
Shot in November and directed by Barris for the show's fourth season, "Please, Baby, Please," was set to tackle serious political issues—the primary one being about an athlete's choice to kneel during the national anthem.
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"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."
Although the creative differences could be translated into a "rather safe than sorry" decision, Barris agreed that the episode should remain unaired.
"Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” Barris said to Variety. “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.”
Barris' words ring true, as the show's covered a wide range of topics from Trump's election and use of the N-word to postpartum depression and police brutality. So the choice to withhold "Please, Baby, Please" seems surprising, since the political issue of athletes taking a knee falls into that range of previously addressed topics.
While fans won't be able to watch the episode, a slight synopsis was revealed, indicating the installment would have featured Dre (Anthony Anderson) trying to calm his youngest son by reading bedtime stories, but when that doesn't work he switches the script and turns his concerns for the future into his own bedtime story. That's when the controversial topic is broached.
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As for being shelved, black-ish isn't the first show to have an episode canned before air-date; other shows have fallen victim to the same backlash when it comes to tackling weighty issues. Here six other examples proving that sometimes episodes don't even make it past the writers' room.
Knowing George Costanza (Jason Alexander), fans of the former NBC hit wouldn't be surprised to hear that an episode where George tackles race and issues surrounding it was pitched in the writers' room. Ultimately, the idea was scrapped by the network because it was deemed inappropriate with four lead actors who were white.
As the son of a transgendered father, Chandler Bing's (Matthew Perry) aversion to being mistaken as gay was no secret on the '90s hit. So when it was suggested that Chandler would visit a male strip club because he liked the food there, the idea was almost immediately turned down.
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The episode in question featured Snuffy's parents divorcing, which received less than satisfactory reactions with test audiences. Children who were subjected to the test audience were confused and upset, leading to the decision to keep the episode from airing. Years later, the show tackled the topic in a digital short with Elmo in 2012.
While Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) were the ultimate "will they won't they couple" of the '80s in this comedy, it was no secret that Sam was a womanizer. During the height of the AIDS epidemic, an episode in which Sam is positively diagnosed with with the disease was begun but was halted indefinitely.
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In the episode titled "Partial Terms of Endearment," the topic of abortion is broached. Prior to air date though, Fox nixed the episode due to the nature of the subject matter. Even though it didn't air on TV in the U.S., it did air in the United Kingdom and is available through DVD or streaming.
Married with Children
Titled "I'll See You in Court...", this episode found Al (Ed O'Neill) and Peggy (Katey Sagal) in a compromising position when they're taped while having sex at a motel. At the time the subject matter was deemed too inappropriate, and the episode did not air for years after the show's end.
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