Why #BlackAF Has Been So 'Rewarding' For Kenya Barris

Kenya Barris as himself and Rashida Jones as Joya Barris on #blackAF (2020)

Kenya Barris found mainstream success when his family comedy Black-ish premiered on ABC in 2014, and that positive reception has mostly carried over to the show’s spinoffs. Barris’ latest show, #blackAF, has managed to find an audience but hasn’t received the level of acclaim that his original show received when it debuted. Still, it looks like Barris is still enjoying the experience.

Kenya Barris enjoyed making #blackAF and considers the show to be one of the most “rewarding creative experiences” he’s been a part of. In addition, he told Gold Derby that he enjoys the polarizing nature of the series and admits to closely watching social media’s response to it:

It’s been probably one of the most rewarding creative experiences I have ever been through. I like to do things that are in some way polarizing, because what they do is they start conversations. I think that this is one of the most hashtagged comedies in the history of Twitter. Honestly, I saw Twitter eat itself. I saw it go from a conversation at first about how there wasn’t enough representation maybe about darker skinned blacks or it wasn’t real because they have too much money or this is just black-ish re-done, but then I started seeing that conversation imploding in itself and self-correcting some aspects. It was a much more intimate conversation that I was having than I have ever had. I really enjoy that because I think it’s important to art.

#blackAF created quite a stir when it initially debuted, with many taking to social media to voice their opinions on the streaming comedy. This led to a number of discussions across the internet in which viewers debated the merits of the show.

Some viewers and critics have praised the show for its humor and social commentary. Meanwhile, others have critiqued it for retreading ground that’s been covered on Black-ish. Having watched social media’s response to the show, Kenya Barris is aware of the criticisms and didn’t hold back when addressing them.

For those who haven’t seen #blackAF, the show stars Barris as a fictionalized version of himself who along with his wife (played by Rashida Jones), is raising a family within the Hollywood landscape. Throughout its first season, the show also featured guest stars in the form of Ava DuVernay, Tyler Perry and Issa Rae. This week, Netflix renewed the show for a second season, though it has yet to announce a release date.

Regardless of how #blackAF has been received thus far, it would appear that Kenya Barris is more than satisfied with how things have panned out. With a second season on the way, it’ll be interesting to see if he makes any changes to the show. But judging by his reactions to the criticism, he’ll likely keep to his vision moving forward.

The first season of #blackAF is now streaming on Netflix.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.