Black-ish, is the new ABC primetime sitcom that has quite a few people a buzz. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Black family on a major primetime cable channel, since TGIF of the early ’90s. And think about it 1995 was 19 years ago…now take a moment and exhale, it’s okay we’re all aging gracefully together. The title of the show also seems to puzzle, maybe slightly anger, some of our close to hollow melanin lacking companions, because like “post-race” and such is something people really do believe in. Therefore the mention of anything that blatantly relates to race also seems to lead to cirulr conversation that serve no purpose. This is a show about an upper middle class Black family, and how they’ve moved beyond the typical stereotypes of the Black community in America, while still having to deal with the nuances of what that really means. I get it, if you’ve never lived your day as an African-American person, I don’t expect that to make a whole lot of sense without you actually watching the show. But just watch, it all adds up in the most feel good of ways.
Now on the flip side, in the bubble that I reside in as an upwardly mobile Black woman is who is active on social media, I’ve seen the pantomiming of an outcry about other Black people not being into the show and how dare they not support this positive imagery of Black folk on ABC during primetime but then turn around and watch Love & Hip Hop. How dare you offer up a critique of the show while you enjoy any moment of vapidness that comes out of a Mona Scott reality show production! But is it really that hypocritical to enjoy any one of the ratchet television programs because they are such a badly scripted train wreck that you can’t help but watch while offering your critical opinion in a dialogue on a show that is suppose to be the embodiment of a good Black family? I don’t even think the critiques on Black-ish are that harsh. But there are ways to encourage people to watch and support without blasting them for their other lifestyle choices. I promise you trying to guilt trip a person into watching any particular program is a road that has an immediate dead ending. It don’t work. We are allowed to have opinions, and if anything I think it would be great to encourage more thought out dialogue in our community rather than relying so heavily on snarky quips to prove a point.
Just like the banter that’s been thrown around with the early screenings of Dear White People, which I’ve partly already made up my mind that I am going to love before I even see it (owning my bias). Some folks feel that the movie is a bit more than heavy handed in it’s approach and the most common of digs has been that they don’t personally relate to any facet of the storyline. Which, when you look at how Black people often critique programming that is offered as high brow representations of ourselves, is a common thought – how much does this show relate to how I live as a Black person. We can dismiss much of the low brow programming because we can remove ourselves from that and watch in bemusement the crashing of someone we know we are nothing like. Not to say that this symptom is right, but if you want to change a way of thought you have to first look at the base for it. We should be able to enjoy a show on “our people” without feeling like we walked exactly in their shoes, but on the flip side that show should also show us a new perspective that we can have sympathy for even when empathy is lacking.
After the pilot episode premiered, I wasn’t really enthralled by Black-ish. To note, I’m also not immediately vying for a position as a social media correspondent with ABC or a feature on Tracee Ellis Ross’ YouTube channel, so there’s that. The pilot was extremely heavy handed and cliche, but then I had to call my own bluff and realize that really I didn’t say myself in any part of that episode’s storyline. It largely focused around Anthony Anderson’s character, Andre Sr., being promoted to VP of Urban at his advertising agency and going through the most obvious of stereotypes to forcefully show you what the plot of the show is about. Yeah, I wasn’t moved and then I realized I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a single Anthony Anderson role. He is flat out not funny to me. So an episode where he is getting the bulk of the screen time is right over my head. I re-watched and fast-forwarded past most of his scenes…and realized I definitely need to keep watching, because those kids + Tracee, if they get more screen time, will pull me in.
Monday night on the episode 2, “The Talk”, was definitely a triple upgrade to the pilot. Whoever casted the twins, Diane & Jack, did a phenomenal job. Specifically with Diane, who is wittily precocious. All the kids do great in their roles, and the mellow comedy of Laurence Fishburne is like a perfectly timed grace note. Tracee’s hair does looks as great as her acting skills, you just want to lay in all of it, though I’m happy I never had any moments of delusion where I thought my hair was going to come out like hers. And Anthony Anderson should never take his shirt off again, like ever, like nope. Like Tracee too fine to be laying up with your corny behind and if you want me to keep up this suspension of disbelief…please stay clothed moving forward.
Overall Black-ish has great potential has a family show. Watch with your kids and enjoy that there is a positive representation of a financially well off Black family. I’m just a single, Black woman, that likes to drink a glass (or a few) of red wine when sit down to watch “my programming” so this is here is a slightly different lens. But here’s to hopping Black-ish inspires some great family convo at the dinner table (do folks still eat as a family?) and that the Johnson kids get plenty of screen time to add to the laughter of family comedy.
Have you watched Black-ish? What were your thoughts? Did your children enjoy it? Leave a comment down below and join in on the conversation!