What Happened to the Unaired ‘Black-ish’ Episode?

Acclaimed family sitcom Black-ish canceled a politically centered episode that executives at ABC and show creator Kenya Barris couldn't agree on. The network's entertainment chief, Channing Dungey, cited "creative differences." 

The episode, titled "Please, Baby, Please," was originally scheduled to air February 27, Variety reported in March. Directed by Barris in November, the unaired episode showed Anthony Anderson's character, Dre Johnson, reading his crying infant son a bedtime story. He then improvises his own tale, which addressed the current state of America. The episode was ultimately replaced with a rerun of a previous Black-ish episode.

"We've long been supportive of Kenya and his team tackling challenging and controversial issues in the show," Dungey said before an ABC Upfront Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We've always, traditionally, been able to come to a place creatively where we felt good about the story that he was telling even if it felt like it was pushing some hot buttons, and he felt that he was getting to share the story in the way it should be shared."

Added Dungey, "With this particular episode, there were a number of different elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on. Much has been made about the kneeling part of it, which was not even really the issue, but I don't want to get into that. At the end of the day, this was a mutual decision between Kenya and the network to not put the episode out."

Barris addressed the canceled episode as well, suggesting they "couldn't come to an agreement" and "mutually" decided to move on. "We just had a difference of opinion," Barris told Vulture Tuesday. "I don't think it’s the first time an episode hasn't aired. You know what I'm saying? It probably won’t be the last."

In the show's four-season run, Black-ish hasn't shied away from discussing an array of difficult topics. The show unpacked racism in the United States, President Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and the black experience overall in America, for example. Season 4 explored Dre and Bow Johnson's (Tracee Ellis Ross) marital woes, a highly-unexpected and serious story arch for a sitcom to digest. The fictional characters ultimately resolved their differences in the finale, titled "Dream Home." 

"The bad times brought us together, and we just took it from there," Bow said in the Season 4 finale Tuesday. "I know we have a lot of work to do, but we were choosing each other."

Black-ish is set to return for a fifth season despite the rumors that Barris is seeking to opt out of his deal with ABC to form a new partnership with Netflix. The potential new pact with the online streaming service wasn't immediately confirmed. 

blackish episode Anthony Anderson is pictured as Dre Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross is shown as Bow Johnson in a "Black-ish" episode titled "Dream Home" on May 15, 2018. ABC and show creator Kenya Barris discussed what happened to the political-centered episode that was canceled earlier in Season 4. ABC/Ron Tom