Known for creating Black-ish, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish, Kenya Barris has his hands in many other properties, most recently Entergalactic, a Netflix special created in collaboration with Kid Cudi, who released a soundtrack of the same name when the special was released.
All of those shows mentioned have been very well-received by fans and critics alike, especially Entergalactic, which is one of the most beautifully animated films of the year.
But by far his most controversial and most discussed work to date may be BlackAF, a sitcom based on the real-life family of Barris that focuses on the struggles of a rich Black family in modern America.
In an interview with LEVEL Magazine, Barris spoke about possibly reviving the show, and how it’s one of the hardest things he’s worked on as a showrunner, filmmaker and actor.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Barris in the LEVEL article. “ But the one thing that makes me fearful of doing it again is that loss of anonymity. I had lost some anonymity because there are not a lot of Black writers at my level, so some people recognize me.”
But since the show premiered on Netflix in 2020, Barris has since left the streaming company in pursuit of other opportunities. Before he left Netflix, BlackAF was greenlit for a second season. However, as it stands now, the show is in limbo and does not have an official home for people to watch potential new seasons.
When asked “where is the show now?” by LEVEL, Barris said, “I was shocked at how many people watched and loved it. We were preparing to do another season before I left Netflix. I would love to do another season. [Co-star] Rashida [Jones] would love to do another season. Maybe it will happen. Ted greenlit BlackAF movies. But everything starts to become this sort of conversion between commerce and art. That’s the key.”
Even though the show has those that want it to return to streaming services, some may not want it to. When the show was first released, users on social media criticized Barris’ casting for being filled with almost an entirely lighter-skinned and/or mixed-race group of actors and actresses.
Barris defended his casting explaining to the critics that his family looks extremely similar to the one that’s in the show, and that since the show is based on his real-life family dynamics, he wanted an honest representation.
But should the show return? I see no reason why not: as The Root has previously said, the show is a mix between Black-ish and Curb Your Enthusiasm and it blends the best parts of both of those shows well enough for people to enjoy.
Plus, it’s Kenya’s story. It’s not supposed to be based on the everyday life of a “normal” Black family. It’s based on his, which in many ways is much different than that of other Black people because of his fame, notoriety and wealth.
Not everyone is going to enjoy the show, and that’s completely fine. But Barris has a right to create a show about his experience as a Black person, even if it isn’t relatable to everyone.