ABC refused to air an already-produced ‘Black-ish’ episode about anthem-kneeling

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ABC is owned by Disney. Disney owns ESPN. ESPN owns the rights to air many NFL games. ABC also owns Black-ish, the wonderful, lauded, respected and awarded show about a contemporary African-American family dealing with America in general and race specifically. Black-ish has gotten a lot of well-deserved praise for how they handle many sensitive topics having to do with race and politics, everything from the election of Donald Trump to whether or not a black kid could or should use the n-word. Apparently, the bridge too far on hot-button social/political topics was an episode about Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem though.

In February, the network announced that a new [Black-ish] episode, scheduled for the 27th of the month, would be replaced with a rerun from earlier in the series. The original episode was never aired, and now never will be, according to a new report that says ABC and the show’s creator, Kenya Barris, had creative differences about the episode that couldn’t be resolved.

The episode, titled “Please, Baby, Please,” was shot in November and directed by showrunner Barris. On the night of a big thunderstorm that keeps the whole family awake, Anthony Anderson’s Dre cares for their infant son Devante who refuses to stop crying and go back to sleep. After reading the child a bedtime story doesn’t work, Dre decides to make up one of his own that touches on “multiple political and social issues” as well as Dre’s concerns about the state of the country. One scene features Dre and his eldest son Junior (Marcus Scribner) arguing over whether or not athletes should be allowed to kneel before games, a la Colin Kaepernick. These tricky subjects, it seems, proved too tricky for ABC and Barris to reconcile.

“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 on Friday. “However, on this episode there were creative differences we were unable to resolve.”

Barris echoed ABC’s language: “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.”

[From Vanity Fair]

It’s pretty clear what’s happening here and I hope Disney, ABC and ESPN get a ton of sh-t for it. ESPN journalist Jemele Hill was basically pushed out of the network after she dared to discuss Kaepernick and racism within the NFL. Jemele’s former SportsCenter cohost Michael Smith is now leaving too. And now Disney/ABC won’t allow the most topical sitcom on their network deal with a hot-button issue? I wonder if they would have allowed it if Modern Family tried to tackle it?

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31 Responses to “ABC refused to air an already-produced ‘Black-ish’ episode about anthem-kneeling”

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  1. Lucy says:

    Is this show on Netflix? I would very much like to watch it. Same as its spin-off, Grown-ish.

  2. smee says:

    that pisses me off – great episode, great show – ABC are cowards

  3. tracking says:

    I am shocked by this. Shame on you, ABC.

    • Rumi says:

      I don’t watch cable much but this show I record and watch religiously. Its intelligent, funny, educational and every character I love, especially Ruby 😘
      And the discussions that take place at the office are pure gold!

  4. Neelyo says:

    Disney sucks. They may pander to minority groups here and there, but their key message has always been retrograde, 50s America bullshit.

    No shock here.

  5. Jker says:

    White supremacist triggered snowflakes are obvious.

    NFL might be 2nd to NRA on republican’s priority list, it’s the only form of immigration they support.

    Smee said it better above, but ABC = racist cowards

  6. Rapunzel says:

    If it was a mutual decision about the direction of the ep, then why was the ep completed? Transparent attempt to hide their chickensh-t censorship.

  7. Frome says:

    This actually surprises me. ABC is owned by Disney which gave us the two biggest movies in the world right now, Black Panther and Wrinkle in Time. Both directed by and starring black people. By the way can we get a post on how banging the box office charts look this morning?

    Anyway, ABC also gave us Shonda and her empire. The first black woman show runner who brought us the first black female lead on network.

    I’m not saying ABC is woke, I’m saying I thought they understood that pandering to sensitive white folks is no way to make money. Why are they hurting their wallets to appease stupid orange people who will quickly move on to their next outrage?

  8. Nicegirl says:

    I wish the episode would air, I’m still learning about systemic racism. And trying.

    • Jker says:

      I 2nd this nice girl!

      I assume, given my background especially (hick from the sticks), that I’m problematic. So I’m always looking for opportunities to further educate myself. For example: insightful, timely shows like Blackish – but really everywhere, like the comment section on this site even.

    • Milla says:


      Blackish is one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages and it is educational and i cannot understand why this happened…

      Btw, i wanna thank 45 for this show. If he didn’t make a racist tweet about it i wouldn’t know how great the show is…

    • Nicole says:

      Same. Blackish is one of the best shows for that. It gives a good look into a modern black family but also highlights black issues

  9. Loo says:

    It is so cute how people think that Disney is some benevolent company.

  10. Deanne says:

    Disney is clearly run by a bunch of spineless cowards.

  11. Common sense says:

    That sucks, last night immediately after I watched Blackish (season 2 here in South Africa) I went on Facebook and that news story was the first thing that popped up on my news feed. The episode that I had just watched was really good; episode 45 “the Johnson show , and now I really want to watch this episode that won’t be aired.

  12. Mumbles says:

    This show is probably the smartest show on network TV. What a damn shame.

  13. Amelie says:

    Seriously! This show has tackled so many current issues POC face in the modern world. One of the most memorable I remember is Dre and his coworker avoiding a little white girl who was all alone in the elevator in their workplace and taking the stairs to avoid being caught alone with her. When the security footage showed Dre and the other guy (I can’t remember the character’s name) specifically running away from the lost little white girl in the elevator, he gets crap from his white coworkers and his wife Rainbow who were all like, “Why didn’t you try to help her?” And he had to remind them as a black man he was terrified of lost white children because a black man taking a white child by the hand would not go down very well for obvious reasons. I was laughing because the way they presented it was humorous but you had to remember there was a very serious lesson/message behind the way they presented it.

    But kneeling during the national anthem is a step too far? I’m not sure I follow–it’s a peaceful protest against police brutality towards POC. It’s not violent, it’s a sensitive subject but are we really that worried of hurting the NFL’s feelings? This makes me very glad I have zero interest in football. Unless the episode was done in a really terrible way, but somehow I don’t believe that considering everything I’ve seen has always been on point.

    • Edwin says:

      It just shows u exactly how powerful “white man privilege” is especially when your President, 45 can blatantly lie use language unbecoming of a man in office and that’s not off limits. He can commit adultery and the religious family right says nothing. However god forbid we make a sitcom regarding the NFL and make an episode regarding our constitutional right to kneel and all hell breaks loose. How can the small percentage of people (not the majority) who voted him president not hold him accountable.

    • Hazel says:

      That was the episode I first thought of, as well. Funny & insightful.

  14. Alarmjaguar says:

    Ugh, this is such a great show and have managed to tackle weighty topics so well, I am very disappointed. The only silver lining is perhaps it will bring more people to the show, but that’s a slim one.

    • Lorelai says:

      I’ve never seen it, but between Kaiser’s post and all of your comments, I’m going to go find it on Hulu right now! Hopefully there are others like me.

  15. Nola says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. I read somewhere (maybe on here?) that all Disney / ABC stars were pressured (I.e. told they better toe the line) to stop and speak with Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars despite the sexual harassment allegations (E! is owned by the same company apparently). So, of course, ABC would be pressuring its other shows to ignore the NFL kneeling controversy to protect its other entity (ESPN).

  16. TheOtherSam says:

    ABC is owned by Disney which I believe is trying to purchase 20th Century Fox -? A sale which would require FCC & DOJ approval. And who is controls those these current days?…I sense there’s more here going on behind the scenes than just some creative dispute between network and showrunners. Blackish has always tackled current topics. Someone from up above maybe has advised that now is not the time to upset certain over-sensitive elected leaders.

    I have a feeling we will see this episode at some point in the future, after all the mergers and deals are confirmed.

  17. Ange says:

    I’d feel like the show had a lot more leg to stand on if they hadn’t put Chris Brown in an episode. If you care so much about black people and black issues don’t put a KNOWN abuser of your fellow black women on your show!

  18. Racer1 says:

    Does anyone know which side the episode favored? The standers or kneelers?