Issa Rae on Unaired Black-ish Episode: ‘That Would Infuriate Me’

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Issa Rae. Photo: Tara Ziemba/AFP/Getty Images

In the spring, ABC and Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris pulled an episode of the series that was said to deal with many of today’s political topics, including football players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem. Barris told Vulture that he and the network “got past it,” but there were rumors that he’d exit ABC for Netflix. In an interview with GQ, Issa Rae compared the Black-ish disagreement to the relative freedom she gets at HBO with Insecure. “That would infuriate me,” Rae told GQ. “You know? Like, I’m out here telling the truth, and I’m telling my authentic experience, and you pride yourself on having this show that exposes the plight of a black family in the United States, and then you’re censoring: No, not that. We don’t want to see that part. The world isn’t ready for that. America’s not ready. That’s crazy to me … Kenya tries to couch so much in a family show, and get so much across, in a way that I really respect and admire. But a lot of the time it is just mired in the Disney, ABC of it all.”

Rae is familiar with the “Disney, ABC of it all,” after a show Shonda Rhimes helped her pitch ABC was bought by the network, but collapsed in development. The show was titled I Hate L.A. Dudes, and Rae described the development process as difficult. “I was a mess,” Rae said of the 2012 experience. “I was just like, Yeah, I have this shot, but I don’t want to fuck it up, so I’m just gonna listen to what everybody says. And I just became like fucking clay for people to mold. The Shonda process was, like, the best shit that happened to me, because it gave me confidence to feel like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ And I feel like ABC took the confidence away.”

Issa Rae on Unaired Black-ish Ep: ‘That Would Infuriate Me’