RACE IS FRONT AND CENTER
If you weren’t sure, the title of the show is a dead giveaway. There’s plenty of race talk, which in the pilot, wasn’t always handled in the smoothest way, but by the third episode, show creator Kenya Barris & Co. found their groove. Whether Dre and Pops (Laurence Fishborne) are explaining The Nod to Andre:
Or dealing with an racially insensitive co-worker:
Black-ish accurately describes a type of black experience that some of us have in America. While I haven’t been asked how black people say good morning, I have been asked, “Why all black people wear lotion?” Memo to the world: the best of waking up is not making a black person have their Folger’s with a side teaching you Intro to Black Skin: Why Cocoa Butter Is Good For You & Stuff.
AND SO IS GENDER! WELL, IT’S TO THE LEFT A LITTLE BIT, BUT IT’S THERE!
I’m a black lady, so I also want some moments to reflect what I, and more importantly, my mom have to go through. In the same “Crazy Mom” episode, Rainbow vents about when dads put in the tiniest effort, they get celebrated while mothers aren’t necessarily. That is a very valid point, but like any good storyteller, Barris & Co. know the best way to drive home a point is show not tell as they do in the following brilliant scene:
IT’S NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT
That doesn’t mean that there are tons of sex jokes and f- bombs. This is a family show, after all. What it does mean that it is going to push buttons in its own way. For example, in the pilot, Dre is concerned about he and his family losing what he considers to be black culture. This includes, butts (thanks, Kim Kardashian!) break dancing, and this: “Not that I want to go back to being the big scary black guy, but it did have its advantages,” which is followed by a white woman giving him the middle finger before taking his parking spot. This punchline walks the line while pointing out and uneasy fact about being black in America.
IT’S NOT THE COSBY SHOW…AND THAT’S A GREAT THING
Nothing can compare to The Cosby Show. It will go down in history as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. While, the jury is still out on where Black-ish will end up in TV history, one thing is for sure: it ain’t The Cosby Show. And that’s fine! It’s not trying to be; rather, it’s building upon the legacy of TCS. It’s not longer startling to see two upper class and educated black parents in the household. What is startling is dealing with issues of color blindness in an honest way or tackling the issue of what “urban” means in the workplace. Is Dre being promoted to SVP of Urban Marketing as a way to niche-ify him or is it a way have him run diverse accounts at his marketing firm. Issues like this are nuanced and complex and something that couldn’t be talked about twenty, thirty years ago on TV. Thank good Black-ish can do it now.
[Photo credit: ABC]