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'Black-Ish' Creator Kenya Barris: Soul of Network TV At Stake In Emmys Race

Kenya Barris, creator of ABC’s Black-ish, said winning the Emmy for best comedy means everything to him. Speaking on the show’s set, he said, “We’ve been very lucky to become friendly with people we are nominated with, but I want it. This is a battle for network television’s soul.”

In an era when many series on cable and streaming produce just 10 episodes a year, Barris said broadcast deserves extra credit for cranking out 24. Add in advertisers and standards and practices weighing in on content, and he said keeping quality high is even more difficult. “To jump through those hoops and have these directors and actors and writers do it at that level 24 times a year,” he said. “I think [broadcast] should be a different category.”

FX’s Atlanta, Netflix’s Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, ABC’s Modern Family, and HBO’s Silicon Valley and Veep are in the Emmys running with Black-ish. It was also among the 2016 nominees — Veep won that year.

Barris said broadcast shows can often be watched by families, something that cable and streaming entrants can’t always boast. “To do a show that I can watch with my 4-year-old or my 80-year-old grandmother I feel like that means something,” he said. “To do it 24 times a year, that means something even more.”

Barris singled out Veep and Atlanta for their strong comedy, but added that he would “stick our episodes against anyone’s.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.