Since his latest show, Black-ish, debuted last year, showrunner Kenya Barris hasn’t been afraid of sparking debate.
His weekly portrait of the Johnsons, a well-off black family in Los Angeles, already has taken on issues like the Republican Party’s relationship with African Americans and homophobia in the black community. And in a memorable season premiere last Wednesday, the Johnsons embraced the intergenerational debate over the N-word.
This week, the show will face another contentious issue: gun control. In an interview with BuzzFeed on Tuesday, Barris gave a preview of what will happen: When a neighborhood break-in occurs, Dre (Anthony Anderson) contemplates buying a gun, with wife Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) arguing against it. (Nearly half of people who own a gun say they do so for protection.)
Barris said the idea behind the episode originated in the writers’ room, when the creator told his team that he was trying to buy a gun, shocking his colleagues. As he told BuzzFeed:
They were blown away…[I was like,] This isn’t crazy. I’m not buying a gun to kill someone. But it split the room down the middle. For me, that’s always a good sign that there’s a story in there.
The notions and ideology of gun ownership has a lot socio-economic and cultural reasons behind it. We’re not a political group. And we don’t want to…start taking real hard stands on things that people have the right to have different opinions on. We want to have the filter of the family reflect different opinions and do it in a fun and funny way. That’s what we try to do with each episode.
You can catch the episode, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Guns,” tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT/PDT on ABC.