Two and a half years after burying an episode of its hit ABC sitcom black-ish, Walt Disney Television has finally released “Please, Baby, Please” in its entirety on 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,” creator Kenya Barris wrote in a tweet on Monday afternoon. “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.”
Originally set to air during season 4, “Please, Baby, Please” finds a thunderous storm sweeping across L.A., and Andre (Anthony Anderson) up in the middle of the night to tend to baby Devante. In the haze of storybooks, the dad ruminates on the things in life that scare him. He finds himself telling the story of “The Shady King,” a president who sounds a lot like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. With some help from his father (Laurence Fishburne) and kids, Andre’s dulcet tones walk viewers through two years of post-Trump politics, from the rise of MAGA politics, “White pride,” and anti-climate science to Colin Kaepernick’s NFL protests and the civilian response to Hurricane Maria.
“What we do know is that there are more of us who help than those who hurt,” Andre says in narration.
In his tweet, Barris says that, after ABC aired two other thematically charged episodes earlier this year — “Juneteenth” and “Hope” — he urged the network to reconsider airing the series’ lost episode. “They listened and agreed,” he wrote.
Though black-ish has a reputation of confronting issues of race, police brutality, and the inequality of life in America, “Please, Baby, Please” was seen as problematic for the network. When the episode was pulled in 2017, Barris and ABC cited creative differences. “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,” a ABC spokesperson told Deadline at the time. “However, on this episode there were creative differences we were unable to resolve.”
Navigating the values of the Trump administration, brands like the NFL (which has tried to quell protests), the employed creatives, and the vocal audience has become an increasingly tricky issue for networks like ABC. Months after yanking “Please, Baby, Please” from the schedule, the network fired Roseanne Barr from her own highly-rated sitcom after a series of racist tweets. In 2018, Barris would signal his exodus from network TV by signing a $100 million with Netflix. He continues to write and produce black-ish, and the spinoffs grown-ish and mixed-ish for Walt Disney Television.
“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,” he wrote. “Thank you to ABC Entertainment for allowing this moment to happen. And thank you to the entire black-ish family for never shying away from tough conversations, making telling stories like this possible.”