Black-ish Is the Best Family TV Show You’re Not Watching

by Phoebe Robinson

1) I’m not just writing that because VH1 is paying me the big bucks to do so. Although, later on, I am looking forward to balling out of control at Forever 21 even though I’m ghorghor years old. What? VH1 isn’t paying me that much in order for me to reveal my age. 2) Yes, some of you are watching — ABC did recently give ask for a full season order — but the show is now hovering around the 6.5 million range, which is pretty decent, but I’m waiting for this show to become the breakout hit of the season. So without further ado, I present to you the seven reasons why Black-ish is the best TV show you’re not watching.

TRACEE. ELLIS. ROSS.

Yes, this show is vehicle for Anthony Anderson, but in my eyes, Tracee Ellis Ross is killing it as Rainbow, who is a doctor and Anderson’s wife. She is consistently charming, nails every punchline, and looks amazing. I really think this is the show that will get her some Emmy nominations, but if she doesn’t, her consolation is that she is absolutely cute – and funny! – while asking for a little pleasure down there.

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

For this reason and several others, I want to be Ross’ friend. And I’m not talking casual friendship. You know, the kind where you bump into someone on the street and the both of you pretend like you’re not counting in your heads how long you have until you can exit the conversation without looking like you didn’t want to leave the convo. I’m talking inside-joke having, clothes swapping, can-you-look-something-up-for-me-on-WebMD-and-tell-me-I’m-not-going-to-die-because-I-trust-my-uninformed-best-friend-forever-over-some-Harvard-doctor kind of friendship. Can we do that, Gabs? I know I’m standing in a long ass line of folks who also adore and wanna go halfsies on huevos rancheros sometime, but I’m putting out there. Let’s. Do. This.

IT’S SMART

In episode three entitled “Crazy Mom,” Dre’s (Anderson) status as the cool dad at his younger children’s school is taken away by another dad who brings popcorn. Suffice it to say, Dre does not handle it well:

Not only is him pointing out that no one would eat popcorn on the Underground Railroad because it’s too loud such a funny and specific joke, but I also like the running theme that is being carried throughout the episode: even though Dre is black, he does not know more about Harriet Tubman more than the white teacher does. I totally forgot Harriet was a spy! Well, not that one.

We’re not done yet! More on race, gender, and political correctness

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:

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

[Credit: Tumblr]

 

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]