ABC has been letting politics hold some sway over its primetime lineup, and that has led to disappointing and controversial developments. Given the recent controversy around Roseanne Barr and all of her MAGA-infused shenanigans, it might be time to right one them.
Since the 2016 Presidential Election, Black-ish has gotten pretty political with some of its topics. Kenya Barris has not shied away from the racial divide that Donald Trump’s election caused, race relations within mixed families, slavery, or segregation. But it seemed like the cast and crew stepped on the wrong toes when they produced an episode, titled Please, Baby, Please, about kneeling during the National Anthem.
Though it wouldn’t have been the first time Black-ish touched on police brutality, ABC pulled the plug on the episode, and the viewing audience missed out on an opportunity to, again, broach a very important conversation about free speech and Black lives mattering. The creatives behind Black-ish have always handled heavy topics with a blend of comedy and reality that makes messages palatable for everyone. And they’ve done a great job showing how not all Black people share the same views on said topics, even when it comes to politics.
When it was reported that Roseanne was getting a reboot, the news was met with cautious excitement. The public had begun to show some signs of reboot fatigue, and it was no secret that Roseanne supports Trump. That alone meant that plenty of potential Black viewers would not be tuning in for her return. The remaining excitement curdled as it became clear that the show would exhibit how the Connors had become card-carrying, hat-wearing members of the MAGA set. News about how Roseanne and her sister would clash over the political views didn’t serve to salvage many alienated viewers. The premiere came and went with high viewership, but the show received a lot of criticism for the overt racism and ignorance toward a Muslim family that Roseanne exhibited during the episode. Her behavior only changed once she went to their house to get a WiFi password–and even then she continued making racist remarks about them to their face until they could prove that they were “good” Muslims. So clumsy; so gross. There was far less care used when creating Roseanne’s premiere than Black-ish has to employ with every episode by necessity.
I, along with many other Black-ish fans, was disappointed that this brand of comedy had been promoted heavily and allowed to air when Black-ish’s kneeling episode was yanked over “creative differences.” I’m still baffled as to what those differences could have possibly been. These decisions said to me that ABC, a network headed by a Black woman, was perfectly fine with joking about racism and profiling but not allowing the people who are affected by them speaking out.
However, when Roseanne got flip on Twitter and compared a Black woman to a monkey, ABC didn’t hesitate to shut down her show’s renewal and snatch all of her episodes from streaming services. CMT also stopped airing reruns. It was an appropriate response, but Deon Cole asked the question many of us had on our minds.
— DEON COLE (@deoncole) May 29, 2018
We’re. Here. For. It.
Viewers are still reeling from the story arc about Dre and Rainbow’s marital problems and with the fifth season of the show not returning until the fall, airing Please, Baby, Please would be the episodic snack we’ve been craving.
Not only that, but it would give some much-needed airtime to an issue that continues to be relevant. Trump recently disinvited Super Bowl Champs The Philadelphia Eagles from The White House because they were photographed kneeling. Most of the team wasn’t going anyway, but the pictures used to justify the move were used disingenuously. It was revealed that the shots were actually snapped while team members were praying before the game (not during The National Anthem). Now, Trump has suggested that he will ask NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem to suggest prisoners that should be pardoned.
ABC airing Please, Baby, Please would hopefully help clarify that the #TakeAKnee movement is not just about the imprisonment of Black people, it’s about disproportionate (and often deadly) police brutality against Black people–even in cases where we are complying with authority figures. Besides, if ABC was fine with airing an entire season of Roseanne’s reboot and all of the racism and bigotry it contained, then it should be fine getting serious about a matter that affects people’s well-being every day.