US sitcom’s ‘partisan’ episode finally airs


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Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross (centre) are nominated for this year’s Emmy Awards

An episode of hit US sitcom Black-ish, which was pulled by ABC over concerns that it was too anti-Trump, has become available to watch for the first time.

The network dropped Please, Baby, Please in 2018 because it was worried about the script’s “partisanship”, creator Kenya Barris said at the time.

Barris has now said he went back to ABC in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests to ask it to reconsider.

“We hope it inspires some much-needed conversation,” Barris said.

“[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.”

The Golden Globe-winning Black-ish follows the lives of an upper-middle-class African-American family led by Andre “Dre” Johnson, played by Anthony Anderson, and Rainbow Johnson, played by Tracee Ellis Ross.

It’s known for tackling social issues alongside personal ones. However, Please, Baby, Please supposedly contained more anti-Trump material than the show had tackled before, at a time when ABC was courting more conservative viewers.

The episode sees Dre improvising a bedtime story to his young son, in which he expresses many of his concerns about the state of the US a year after Donald Trump – whom he calls “the Shady King” – was elected.

Another scene finds Dre and his eldest son arguing over the rights of NFL players to take a knee during the national anthem.

At the time, Barris and ABC said they had mutually agreed that the episode wasn’t ready to be seen.

“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,” ABC said in a statement at the time.

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

In a statement on Instagram on Monday, Barris gave his own explanation of the story and the decision’s reversal.

‘Grappling with the state of our country’

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

The episode has been made available on streaming service Hulu, which, like ABC, is owned by Disney.

Barris said Disney TV accommodated his request to make the episode available following the re-airing of episodes titled Juneteenth and Hope in the wake of renewed Black Lives Matter protests.

The dispute over Please, Baby, Please led Barris to leave ABC Studios and sign a new deal with Netflix.

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