Controversial ‘Black-ish’ episode to air on Hulu

The 'Black-ish' episode about Colin Kaepernick and the NFL anthem controversy that didn't make the ABC series will now air on the streamer

Kenya Barris speaks onstage at the REVOLT Conference in LA. (Photo: Getty Images)

In 2018, Black-ish planned to air the 13th episode of the show’s fourth season. But the episode “Please Baby Please” scheduled to air on February 27th of that year was mysteriously shelved.

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“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” creator and showrunner Kenya Barris said in a statement released after the controversy. “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.”

This image released by ABC shows, from left, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner, Anthony Anderson and Jenifer Lewis in a scene from “black-ish.” ABC announced it is picking up the acclaimed comedy for a sixth season. The network is also giving an early series order to “mixed-ish,” a spinoff about show creator Rainbow Johnson’s experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ‘80s. (Ron Tom/ABC via AP)

Now, as reported by Deadline, Barris has announced the episode will finally see the light of day on Hulu. Barris explained via social media that that episode was originally done 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,” he said 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.”

Created by Barris, Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Marsai Martin, and Miles Brown. The ABC sitcom details the comical struggles and triumphs of the affluent Johnson family which includes advertising exec Andre Johnson (Anderson) his doctor wife Rainbow (Ross) and their five children.

This particular episode was written by Barris along with Peter Saji.

“Dre is on baby duty for the night during a storm, and the household is wide awake. He decides to read a crying Devante a bedtime story, but when that doesn’t do the trick, Dre tosses it aside and begins to tell a story of his own about the current state of the country in a way Devante will understand, on a special episode…,” the description read.

Black-ish Kenya Barris, ABC

Although that sounds innocuous, the episode is widely believed to reference Colin Kaepernick and the NFL anthem protests, an even more hot-button issue three years ago.

It appears that the recent racial protests after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have shifted the climate so that the episode can finally air.

In 2018, ABC released a vague statement about its choice not to air the episode

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

That controversy is believed to be one of the factors that led Barris to sign a $100M deal with Netflix in 2018 after a long history with ABC. Black-ish continues to air on the network, along with the spinoffs Mixed-ish and Grown-ish, which airs on the ABC-owned Freeform network.

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Barris now also stars in the Netflix sitcom #BlackAF which mines familiar territory as he plays a father of five whos a record executive married to a lawyer played by Rashida Jones.

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