About the shelved episode
Walt Disney’s ABC studios has released the episode of the show “Black-ish” titled “Please, Baby, Please” to the popular streaming platform, Hulu, which had previously been shelved by the studio due to the strong politics expressed in the episode. The episode is strategically set with the family trapped indoors one night waiting out a loud thunderstorm. The timeliness of Disney’s release of the episode is no mistake. The thunderstorm had been a metaphor for all of the horrible events that had occurred in 2017 and 2018 and can still be applied today in 2020.
The episode is about the father Andre Johnson(Anthony Anderson) attempting to put his infant child back to bed after being awoken from the thunderstorm. To do this, he reads his son a bedtime story about a shady king who rises to power by fueling others’ fears and splits the province into two, causing the land to be in chaos.
The trailblazing show Black-ish
Kenya Barris has explored many parts of the African-American experience through the lens of the Johnsons family’s suburban lifestyle in the show, “Black-ish”. Although this new episode is strong in social and political commentary, Barris has not shied away from this pattern throughout the popular series’ lifetime. Two other episodes that contain heavy social commentary in America are titled “Hope” and “Juneteenth”. These two episodes address police brutality and the importance of the national American holiday, Juneteenth. ABC has been re-airing these two episodes recently in an effort to elevate the social consciousness of its audience, much like many other entertainment companies are trying to do amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
Behind Disney’s decision to withhold the episode
Although “Black-ish” had been mostly free to explore different parts of the African-American experience, the one thing that had been off-limits was President Donald Trump. This may have been because of Disney’s attempt to finalize their purchase of the 21st Century Fox Studios through the government. Regardless, the episode was obviously strong in its criticisms of Trump and his incompetence in handling police violence, climate change, and the controversy of athletes that kneel during the national anthem which is why the episode had been shelved. Barris and ABC studios were unable to overcome creative differences regarding the way the episode panned out.
Perhaps another reason ABC did not want to release the episode was due to Laurence Fishburne’s character, “Pops.” In the episode, Fishburne’s character commented on why Black pride is positive and why White pride could be dangerous given the racial history of the two in America.
ABC finally releases the episode
Due to the country being so divided right now, there had been a lot of pressure for ABC to release the shelved “Black-ish” episode. As most of Hollywood and the entertainment industry has been embracing the increased engagement on social commentary, the network’s unwillingness to release the shelved episode may have been a bad PR move for the network’s reputation.
Barris gave the final push when he reached out to Walt Disney Studios to reconsider releasing the shelved episode given its relevance in our current times. When the episode was finally released, Barris announced its release on Hulu in a Twitter post.