In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, ”Black-Ish” and ”Grown-ish” creator Kenya Barris talks his new deal with Netflix, ABC blocking his anti-Trump and #ColinKapernick episode and explains why Roseanne Barr is a “monster.”
Barris originally wrote an episode dedicated to Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality. It shows lead character Dre (Anthony Anderson) telling his son Devante a bedtime story about a character named “The Shady King.” While Dre tells the story real-life footage of Donald Trump, the Charlottesville attacks, and the NFL kneeling protests are shown. “When you’re putting a baby to sleep, you’re trying to soothe whatever anxieties they’re having,” says Barris. “So, this was about me trying to pat the butt of the country and soothe people.”
Unlike other episodes, this one titled, “Please Baby Please” went over its $3 million budget, because it included special elements like voiceovers from Spike Lee, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and a topnotch illustrator. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC has been trying to attract a more red-state audience, and the company felt the episode would only deter more of them away.
“I know there was some concern about partisanship; and the way the episode was angled and the balance in terms of some of the stories. On network TV, one of the things I’ve learned is that you have to talk about things from both sides,” said Barris. Barris says that Bob Iger, chairman, and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, explained the situation in a respectful and considerate manner whereas Ben Sherwood, co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks, and President of Disney-ABC Television Group, did not.
“The way that [Ben] chose to deal with me in this particular episode, I felt a way about it, and I still do. He’d make it seem like it was an open environment but really it wasn’t, and those are things I see very clearly. Everyone wants to say it’s open arms, but just tell me it’s not, and I’ll respect you more,” said Barris. In short, Barris said the ordeal ended with his original vision for the episode being shot down. “What it ended up being, and I think the network would agree, was not a true representation of what we intended to do,” he says. “Because if it was, we would’ve shown it.”
Barris also shared his feelings towards Barr. “Fu** Roseanne. She’s a fu**in’ monster. And they were like, ‘Why is this monster killing villagers?’ And I was like, ‘Because that’s what a monster does.’