ABC’s new show, “black-ish” has been dubbed the re-evolution of the extraordinarily successful “The Cosby Show,” which first aired 30 years ago. The upwardly mobile Cosbys remain our go-to-TV family who altered the perceptions of the black family and is credited with saving a dying genre (situation comedy, sitcom) and network (NBC). Since their final episode, we haven’t had a family quite like theirs to serve as a model and keep the class conversation going.
Writer Kenya Barris (“The Game,” “Girlfriends”) and executive producer Larry Wilmore (“Bernie Mac”) receive an A-plus for delivering, “black-ish,” “a new comedy about balancing old-school family values with modern-day success,” to which this critic can honestly relate. During a recent screening of the pilot episode in New York City with select media and culture critics at the 40/40 Club, I learned that families of color across America, literally, considering I am in the South and the writers are on the West Coast, face the same issues.
Following the screening, actress and vlogger Franchesca Ramsey lead a dialogue with actress Tracee Ellis Ross (who plays the Johnson’s family matriarch Rainbow). Ross enlightened and entertained the audience by sharing the show’s backstory and offering quite a bit of insight as to why she teamed with Anderson and Laurence Fishburne on this project.
Here are seven reasons I will be tuning in to “black-ish” (not to be confused with ratchet) on Wednesdays 9:30|8:30c.
1. “It’s a show about a black family dealing with their –ish. It’s an opportunity for the world to see all of us as the same.”
2. “What I love about the show is often on network television when you’re playing a black person you’re playing a person who happens to be black. This is a show about a black a family and we’re not shying away from it. The show is really about the “–ish” and not about the ‘black.’”
3. The show is created around real moments and experiences by the show’s executive producer Anthony Anderson and writer Kenya Barris (“Girlfriends”). One of the episodes was born in Anderson’s home when his son, who is black, asked if he could have a Bar Mitzvah. An astonished Anthony obliged, but with one exception, he kept it authentic to upbringing and produced a Bro-Mitzvah.
4. “It’s a comedy.”
5. “I want people to laugh. I really feel like one of the opportunities for the show is that we rarely get to see ourselves represented in a way that’s identifiable for everybody.”
6. “This show is about cultural and socioeconomic identity.”
7. “Playing the character named ‘Rainbow’ is pretty awesome. It’s actually Kenya’s wife’s real name. There are a lot of things that drew me to this role. I thought the humor was really smart; the comedy comes from the characters not from jokes. I love there’s space written into the dialogue. The main thing about the show that I fell in love with is that this is actually a show about a husband and wife who actually love each other. So often on TV, I find with couples, comedy comes from hatred of each other, which I’ve never understood. The whole myth in the world is that when you get married your life is over, but I know so many couples who are in love in real life.”