ABC’s ‘black-ish’ Has Solid Debut

ABC's "black-ish" stars Marcus Scribner as Andre Jr., Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow, Marsai Martin as Diane, Anthony Anderson as Dre, Miles Brown as Jack, Laurence Fishburne as Pops and Yara Shahidi as Zoey. (Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Ballerina Misty Copeland’s powerful Under Armour commercial and Tyler Perry’s a soon-to-be father; Plus, there’s my watchlist and what’s hot (Thursday nights on ABC) and not (The Queens of Comedy dissing Sheryl Underwood).

If Black Twitter’s support wasn’t an indicator, Wednesday night’s ratings results clearly are. 

“black-ish,” the new ABC comedy featuring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, earned 10.8 million viewers for its premiere, making it the second-most watched show of the night. The “Modern Family” season 6 premiere, which served as a lead-in for “black-ish,” earned 10.9 million viewers. Not bad at all, “black-ish.” Not bad at all.

The question on everyone’s minds, though, is whether viewers will stick with this new half-hour comedy? It stars Anthony as Andre “Dre” Johnson, a successful ad executive who is concerned that his children are losing their cultural identity, er, “blackness,” living in an affluent, predominantly white Los Angeles community. He even has the same concerns about himself in the work place. Tracee plays his successful biracial surgeon wife, Rainbow, and Laurence Fishburne as his father, Pops. (I see Larry’s still playing his peers father a la “Boyz ‘N the Hood.”Yara Shahidi, who may be recognizable as a 12-year-old Olivia Pope from last season’s “Scandal,” stars as their oldest daughter ZoeyMarcus Scribner as their oldest son Andre Jr., Miles Brown as their youngest son Jack Johnson and Marsai Martin as their youngest daughter Diane Johnson (clearly on track to become the new Rudy Huxtable. Yep, she’s that adorable.). I live Tweeted the show last night and from what I saw, generally speaking, it was a hit, especially with Black Twitter.  "Funny," "real," "relatable," "good" and "entertaining" were among the several compliments the show received. Several people thought "black-ish" to be a breath of fresh air and cheered ABC for having a sitcom starring black people.

But there were a few concerns, too.

Some wondered whether a show that focuses on race and has a black cast can survive. It seems that many black Americans are supporting the show, but what about other TV viewers? Time will only tell but from what I gathered so far from my web snooping, the show’s premise seems relatable to anyone who’s had a parent or grandparent trying to hold on to their cultural values in the U.S.

Another concern is whether the show itself reinforces black stereotypes. There’s a scene where Pops complains that Rainbow’s baked chicken isn’t fried, because, you know, black people can’t live without their fried chicken (that’s clearly a joke). There’s also the whole issue Dre has with Andre Jr.’s desire to play field hockey instead of basketball, because, black men can only jump (again, another joke). “black-ish” brings up the whole what is blackness argument, you know, real black people do this and not that sort of thing. (I discussed the “blackness” argument earlier this year with our guest editors Tamron Hall, Wayne Brady, Arsenio Hall and Melissa Harris-Perry.) Let’s take ice hockey. It’s “by far the whitest” of the four major teams sports, yet brothers George and Darril Fosty’s book “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895-1925” along with an ESPN special credit descendants of black American ex-slaves with inventing ice hockey in Nova Scotia. So who and what's really black, now?

“This is part of what the show pulls a part is this idea can we really define what black is? Black is not a monolithic experience neither is being human,” Tracee said during her appearance on “The View.”

Overall, I think "black-ish" has promise. There were also a few production issues that a couple of viewers spotted that'll hopefully be eliminated in future episodes. It's also my hope that through its jokes and spotlight on stereotypes, "black-ish" do exactly what Tracee says it will, showing that there really is no such thing as "blackness." Yes, there are things that black people relate to culturally, physically and even spiritually but to limit what we can and can't do is beyond unfortunate.

Missed the "black-ish" premiere? Watch it below. "black-ish" airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET.

“black-ish” premiere
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Misty Copeland’s in Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign

If you haven’t seen ballerina Misty Copeland in Under Armour’s new “I Will What I Want” campaign spot, you really should check it out. The commercial features Misty stretching in a studio with a voiceover of a girl reading a rejection letter (presumably Misty received) from a ballet academy. The letter went on to point out every flaw that the girl had.

Misty, 32, began studying ballet at age13, about a decade after many girls began. She was, and is still, considered too short, too muscular and too curvy for ballet. Fortunately for Misty, and those of us who've seen her perform, she didn't let negative opinions stop her from trekking on to eventually become a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre, the first black woman to hold the title in two decades.

"I think it's important for [little brown girls] to hear those words that you can and you will, to give them hope, to dream. I had so many things working against me," Misty said during an interview with "CBS This Morning" earlier today.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Misty two or three times over the past three years and always enjoyed speaking with her. Check out more from her “CBS This Morning” chat below along with the Under Armour ad.

Misty Copeland on “CBS This Morning”
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Misty Copeland’s Under Armour ad
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Tyler Perry to be a dad

Well, looks like congrats are in order for movie mogul Tyler Perry and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Gelila Bekele, who are expecting their first child. Tyler’s amassed so much wealth and success, why not share it with an heir? It seems the pair will welcome a son over the next four to eight weeks. Yep, she’s that far along. Damn, she must’ve been living in a cave because I haven’t seen any signs of her or her growing belly. Given how the paps are all over, I guess I’d be hiding, too. Tyler made an announcement during his recent 45th birthday bash and the news was confirmed over the past day. Read more here.

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: Kevin Hart guest judging ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” (His commentary alone is worth checking out!)
NOT: Los Angeles buses ads for Fox’s “Red Band Society” that had the words “scary bitch” written next to an image of Octavia Spencer, who stars as a no-nonsense nurse on the show. (The ads have been pulled. That wasn’t a good look.)

HOT: Thursday nights on ABC (It’s on tonight! I’ve seen “How to Get Away with Murder” four times. Looking forward to seeing “Scandal.”)
NOT: The Queens of Comedy dissing comedian and “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood. (Sad but it happens. All I can say is where are they and where is she?)

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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