In November 2017, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris wrote an episode of his Emmy-award winning ABC comedy titled “Please, Baby, Please” that tackled racism in America, ranging from the Charlottesville protests to kneeling in the NFL. Just a week before it was set to air in 2018, Disney shelved it. Now, the episode will finally see the light of day on Disney’s general entertainment streaming service, Hulu.
“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,” Barris wrote in a statement on Twitter. “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.”
“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.”
The episode is available to stream on Hulu right now, but it’s unclear if Disney has plans to air the episode on ABC. The network could use new programming, and there is interest in the Black-ish episode following the company’s controversial decision to shelve it. Originally, the network’s primary concerns were “related to comments that characters made about President Donald Trump, not to the football storyline,” according to Variety. The episode arrives in wake of mass protests around the world fighting racism and injustice.
“I cannot wait for everyone to finally see the episode for themselves and, as was the case nearly three years ago, we hope it inspires some much-needed 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,” Barris wrote in his statement.
The episode focuses on Anthony Anderson’s Dre telling his son Devante a story about the first year of mankind on Earth, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Combining allegorical storytelling and very real news clips, including kneeling NFL players and protesters, allows Barris and his team to address the anxiety much of the country faced on year into Trump’s presidency, the creator told THR back in 2018.
Both Disney executives and Barris’ team were on board with the episode — a high profile production that cost more than $3 million and had talent like Spike Lee attached. Then, a week before the episode were set to air, executives all the way up to then-CEO Bob Iger reportedly expressed concerns over alienating audiences, with Iger speaking to Barris about the “political sensitivities of being a broadcast network in 2018.”
“I cannot wait for everyone to finally see the episode for themselves.”
Also worth noting: Disney was in the middle of trying to acquire 21st Century Fox. Angering a Republican-led Department of Justice while trying to make a deal is something Disney executives apparently wanted to avoid, according to THR.
The network suggested Barris and his team make edits to the episode, but “it wasn’t as easy as a nip here or a tuck there, and the sheer tonnage of anti-Trump material rippling through the episode ultimately made the exercise futile,” according to the Reporter. Instead, both sides scrapped it. Barris would go on to leave the ABC family and sign an overall deal with Netflix worth $100 million.
Now, the episode will live on Hulu for the time being. Disney’s general entertainment streaming service surpassed 35 million subscribers in June.