ABC did not allow “Black-ish” to air a “spanking episode” last week after Adrian Peterson was accused of abusing his sons by severely hitting them with switches.
In an interview before the show’s debut, show creator Kenya Barris said the episode was filmed before the Adrian Peterson controversy, which led to Peterson being suspended from all team activities while he resolves his legal matters. The show’s second and third episodes indeed did not address spanking.
“We’d love to air it as our second episode, and in a very responsible way, we understand ABC feels like it’s not the right time right now to air it, but as producers and writers, we’re like, Oh, my God! Ahead of the curve!” Barris said in an interview Vulture. “But that’s part of what I’m learning — it is a corporation and they are sensitive in a very responsible way, whereas I’m sort of like, I just want to get my thing out there! So, that’s something we’re working through because it’s one of our episodes that we’re happiest with.”
He said about 11 of the 12 of the show’s writers “had been spanked as kids,” but “none of us spanked [as parents].”
“And it was really interesting to see that. Why is that? We all kind of thought we grew up okay, why didn’t we do it? And it started a really interesting conversation, which led us to the differences in black households and white households,” he said. “The differences in coastal households. The socioeconomic differences. The ethnic differences, the cultural differences, the differences in foreigners. It feels as if a lot of [this] country still believes in spanking. South, Middle America. A lot of the world actually still believes in spanking.”
Barris said that “what’s happened with Adrian Peterson seems to be over the top, overboard. I don’t know the particulars of the case, I’m not part of it, but it seems to be that there were some definite lines crossed.”
“But it’s still conversation-worthy in terms of where we’re at now and where we were 30 years ago. What’s acceptable to some and what’s not acceptable to some and who’s making the rules,” Barris continued. “It’s a really interesting episode, I’m really proud of it, but I do understand that it’s something that we have to do in a different kind of way.”
Barris said ABC will hopefully air the episode “in a time where it doesn’t seem like we got into it afterward, that we weren’t reactionary.” “Black-ish” will have plenty of chances to air it as ABC picked up the show for a full season.