Kenya Barris reveals why Black-ish was once censored
The show's creator tells the story to television legend Norman Lear
As part of Entertainment Weekly’s Untold Stories issue, television producer and legend Norman Lear (All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons) sat down with black-ish creator Kenya Barris to get the scoop on his television making experience.
Barris, who credits Lear for shaping his approach to the modern network sitcom, met his hero for the first time years ago, and the pair quickly forged a lasting friendship — Lear has even visited the black-ish writers’ room and pitched Barris a couple of ideas. In the exclusive video above, watch the duo discuss the challenges of making network-approved television.
“I’ve been lucky that ABC’s let me tell some really interesting stories,” begins Barris, “but I get scared when I get those calls and we have to take things out.”
For more revelations from the past four decades of entertainment, visit ew.com/untoldstories.
When pressed by Lear to share one silly thing the network has made him change, Barris opens up about a sequence he was asked scale back. “I was doing an episode about talking to your kids about the world that we’re living in and in the cold open I wanted to show images to set a thesis statement over a voiceover,” he says. “One of the images I wanted to show was 9/11 — I wanted to show the towers and I couldn’t show… I was like every kid has seen this.” He adds that a sign reading “Sandy Hook Elementary” was also cut from the opening scene.
“Those things are corporate arbitrary things,” adds Barris. “They let me tell stories in a way that I appreciate so it’s not a huge argument, but it is a moment of, what? I’m always figuring out ways around how to do this so that makes it hard. Ultimately, you do have to tell them: ‘I’m going to tell my stories and you can’t.'”
Watch the interview above and head to PEOPLE.com/PEN for more from the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). You can also download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS, and Android devices.
black-ish airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.