TV rating: *****
ABC & E4
Writer & Executive Producer – Kenya Barris
Black-ish is an ABC Television Production
Black-ish is a sitcom based on the upper middle class African-American Johnson family who live in ‘the burbs’. The sit-coms stars Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson (Anthony Anderson) who has a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids and a colonial home in the ‘burbs.
Black-ish is an original, absolutely brilliant, hilarious and constantly thought provoking sit-com. What sets it apart and lifts it above most other sit-com’s of this genre is its deliberate issues focused story lines. Though I’m a relatively recent convert to the show, so far I’ve already watched a number of superb episodes covering a vast array of serious topics, from church, drugs, men’s health, fatherhood, the right to bear arms (and I mean guns, not the right to wear sleeveless shirts – LoL), the N word and what it is to be Black and middle-class. The latter is the real essence of the show and where the show gets it’s ‘Black-ish’ title from.
The Johnson’s originate from the hood, but now find themselves living in middle class America, with middle class jobs (Mum is a Hospital Doctor, Dad Dre is a top executive) and with that comes a certain tension between life-long held opinions and their current middle class status. Has success come at the cost of “too much assimilation for this black family?” With a little help from his dad (Laurence Fishburne), Dre is eager to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family that honours their past while embracing the future. This tension underpins most episodes.
The show covers these heavyweight topics in sufficient depth, without losing sight of the fact it’s basically a light entertainment sit-com and with that, the laughs comes thick and fast without in any way diminishing the importance of the topical subject matter. Quite the opposite in fact, for the use of humour actually enhances the issues by shining a spotlight on them under the light touch veil of comedic entertainment.
This show is such a joy to watch, not only for those reasons, but because the family is simply just very nice and loveable, as well as intelligent and caring towards one another. They all seem to generally get along and are seen to be respectful to one another, not just children to parents or between the parents, but their’s respect between the siblings and from the parents to their children, even when they disagree with one another.
It’s so refreshing and uplifting to see parents in such a show treating their children like mature children. You can see they’re being prepared for adulthood and to make their own decisions in life. Dre and Rainbow don’t try to establish their parental authority by force, but through reasoning with their children and talking respectfully to them. As a result they are not treated as children to be patronised and talked down to.
The children are played by Yara Shahidi as Zoey, Marcus Scribner as Andre Jr., Miles Brown as Jack and Marsai Martin as Diane. Laurence Fishburne plays Dre’s father. Ruby Johnson is played by the very familiar face of Jennifer Lewis, star of over 300 TV shows and films. She is a ball of fire, livening up scenes she appears in with her witty repartee especially with Rainbow, with whom there is little love lost!
We also see their extended family – Dre’s mum and dad offering additional support. They visit regularly or stay over, which all helps with running a tidy, organised family home and it’s great to see them being a part of the family and interacting on a daily, regular basis with their grand children.
Black-ish is just like its cast and family. It’s smart, sassy, clever and very, very funny.
The show’s popularity was recognised earlier this month, when on 8th January 2017, Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana Ross) won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy. The first African-American to do so for 35 years since Debbie Allen in Fame (1982). black-ish also received nominations in other major categories including Best Actor in a TV Comedy or Musical and Best Television Series – Comedy.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
You can catch Black-ish on ABC in America and via E4 in the UK.
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