Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is definitely trying something different when it comes to his latest show, Netflix’s #blackAF. The show centers on a fictionalized version of Barris who, along with his family, navigates Hollywood as a family from “new money.” While the show has received positive reception from some critics and viewers, it’s proven to be somewhat polarizing, with some noting similarities to Black-ish. Barris is well aware of these critiques, and he has some strong feelings on the matter.
Kenya Barris recently opened up about the criticisms #blackAF has received since its debut, and he didn’t mince words when addressing them:
The idea that people criticize me for it being so close to black-ish? I'm like, 'Go fuck yourself, dude.' I would do it again. Writers tell their stories in their voices.
During his recent conversation on THR’s Awards Chatter podcast, Kenya Barris further expressed his belief that it’s important for certain stories to be told multiple times. This stems from a desire to put Black life front and center:
It's important to tell over and over and over again, because it needs to get hammered into the idea that we [blacks] are part of the fabric of this country in a way that you're not seeing.
To make his point, Barris also mentioned that other notable writers in Hollywood have also retold stories over the course of their careers, such as Aaron Sorkin.
It’s honestly hard to deny that there are some key similarities between #blackAF and Black-ish, and a lot of this may be due to the fact that both shows draw inspiration from Kenya Barris’ own life. With this, it would be natural that there would be some overlap in the material that he chooses to cover on both programs.
Regardless of how you feel about both shows, a firm point that Barris does make is that Black stories do need to be highlighted. With the emergence of more Black content creators, especially in TV, different aspects of Black life are starting to be depicted in mainstream media, but there’s still room for more work to be done.
Given Kenya Barris’ response to the criticisms, it would appear that he’ll continue with his vision if #blackAF is renewed for a second season. With this, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out for a potential second slate of episodes.
Those who have yet to watch #blackAF can currently stream it on Netflix.