ABC definitely is vying for your attention this fall.
We know Thursday nights will never be the same as Shonda Rhimes–the brainchild behind ABC hits “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy”—will debut “How to Get Away with Murder,” a new saucy drama starring Viola Davis.
But before that historical TV moment takes place next week, the alphabet network also wants you to check out another newbie, “black-ish.”
This new half-hour comedy stars Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson, a successful advertising executive who is concerned that his children are losing their cultural identity (READ: “blackness”) living in an affluent, predominantly white Los Angeles community. For example, his oldest son Andre Jr. wants to be called Andy instead of Dre, play field hockey instead of shoot hoops and have a Bar Mitzvah instead of an African-inspired rights of passage. This concern over loss of blackness also extends to the Compton-bred Dre himself, who, as one of a few black people in a managerial position at his job, feels lately that “in order to make it, [black people have] all dropped a little bit of our culture.” Well, Dre, welcome to many people’s worlds!
This realization inspires Dre to call a family meeting in which he tells the Johnsons: "Listen up, I'm going to need my family to be black. Not blackish." Hence, the show's title.
Funny gal Tracee Ellis Ross (Diana’s hilarious daughter) plays his wife Rainbow, an equally-successful surgeon who is biracial (it’s pointed out a few times in the pilot episode). And Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne occasionally stops by, offering his 2 cents as Dre’s father, Pops. I’m curious about the other ways “black-ish,” which is executive produced by Anderson and Fishburne, will offer a “multi-generational look at contemporary family issues.” Some may read it as sort of modern-day “The Cosby Show.”
I've heard about this series for months and couldn't wait to watch, which I did two or three times. "black-ish" definitely has its funny moments but I sometimes question whether it tries too hard to prove that "the mythical black family"-you know, a loving household headed by two successful black parents who have smart, well-mannered children-is in fact many people's reality. Time will tell.
There are few other things that I can see being a drawback for the show but I'll address that next week in my full review. In the meantime, check out my five reasons why you may want to check out this new show. "black-ish" premieres September 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Watch the preview below.
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1. Positive portrayal of black family life. It’s no secret that black American households (like any other) have their struggles but it’s nice to see a healthy version on TV. A father who’s an ad exec, a mother who is a surgeon with four kids. Yes, it exists (though I wonder where the “help” is on this show). Given the economic climate that’s plagued this country over the past few years, I’m sure people of all races would love to see employed parents who lovingly take care of their family. We all could use a bit of inspiration, right?
2. Addresses office politics. I actually chuckled to myself when viewing scenes related to this. Many of us who grew up being “the only” [insert ethnic or racial group] in school or on the job understand some of the challenges Dre faces at work (I won’t give it away). As I mentioned earlier, Dre is one of a handful of blacks working at his ad firm and faces a particular reality when up for a promotion. Other shows have done this in some way, but given that I’m good and grown now, I have my own personal experiences to refer to as well as those of my family and friends.
3. Addresses other social circumstances. In addition to office politics experienced by many black Americans, the show also mentions other “phenomenon” taking place today. You know, like how things once exclusively associated with black people like big butts, R&B music and dancing are now associated with the likes of Kim Kardashian or Justin Timberlake. Or how some white women are no longer intimidated by black men, which isn’t a bad thing.
4. Solid cast. Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne are the main reasons why many will tune in. But the young actors who play their children are good too. Rapper Nas’ cousin cousin Yara Shahidi (who also played a young Olivia Pope on ABC’s “Scandal”) stars as their oldest daughter Zoey, Marcus Scribner as their oldest son Andre Jr., Miles Brown as their youngest son Jack Johnson and Marsai Martin as their youngest daughter Diane Johnson. Andre Jr. and Diane (she’s too cute) were the standouts in the pilot though I’m sure there’s more to come from Zoey and Jack.
5. It’s funny. I think the show is comical (some comedies are not) and the writing is solid. I’m also very thankful that there’s no laugh track. Yeah, the forced laughter would’ve ruined it for me.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.