• Black-ish: Serious Questions Asked with Humor

    by  • September 12, 2014 • Paleyfest • 7 Comments

    blackishBlack-ish deals with serious questions of assimilation and race – but does so in the format of a family-friendly comedy.

    Andre “Dre” Johnson has made it. A loving husband and proud father of four, Dre is also a successful, well-to-do advertising executive. But the African-American Dre is promoted to vice-president of “urban marketing,” and his son goes out for field hockey instead of basketball – then requests a bar mitzvah — Dre  worries that his children have lost touch with their cultural identity. Andre’s sensible physician wife Rainbow (herself of mixed heritage) tries to protect their bewildered children from Dre’s sudden emphasis on making the family “black, not black-ish.”

    African-Americans assimilating to wealth and fitting in to mainstream white culture has been a consistent theme throughout the history of American television programming, from The Jeffersons to The Cosby Show to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Black-ish provides, if not a backlash, then a counterbalance, asking the question, “While American blacks have gained tremendously, what have they lost? And how do they regain their own unique culture?” – concerns that the show’s co-creators Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne take seriously. But while the program addresses these questions in a humorous fashion, Black-ish is also a warm family sitcom that anyone can enjoy, from Dre’s over-the-top rants to the grumpy responses of his elderly “Pop.”  There is little content of concern: “If I’m not really black, could someone please tell my hair and my ass?” Rainbow says at one point; and when Dre tells his son, “You need to hold onto your culture,” the 13 year old replies, “The only thing I’m trying to hold on to is my first boob.” “You can’t be mad at him for that,” Pop says.

    For combining clean family humor with a serious but gentle examination of race in America, Black-ish is definitely recommended for family viewing.

    Black-ish premieres: Wednesday, September 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

    Take a look yourself and tell us what you think in our comments below!



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    7 Responses to Black-ish: Serious Questions Asked with Humor

    1. Doris
      October 3, 2014 at 6:02 am

      We thought we would try this show since you said it was family friendly….we watched about 2 minutes of the oct 1 episode, ABSOLUTELY NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY! I am glad we did not watch this with our grandchildren. I think you need to rethink the family friendly label!

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        October 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

        Our evaluation was based on the first episode only. That one had one or two stray remarks, but not extended sequences with sexual content.

        • William Warfield
          October 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm

          I thought “Black-ish” was rather amusing. There were a couple of good lines in the October 8 episode, and the two little kids are especially funny.

          However, this show is *definitely* intended for an adult audience. It is *not* by any means for children, as was demonstrated by the October 1 episode (which I *didn’t* think was funny at all). Perhaps ABC should air “Black-ish” *after* 10:00 P.M. Eastern.

    2. Kim
      September 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      I totally agree with “concerned mom”. My concern now is if not PTC, who can I trust?

    3. Concerned mom
      September 13, 2014 at 5:54 am

      Call me prudish, but as a mother of 5, I don’t see how using language that refers to the size of one’s “ass” or a 13-year-old boy hoping to hold onto to someone’s “boob” is FAMILY FRIENDLY!! I don’t think this show should be in the same category as The Cosby Show!!!

      • Another concerned mom
        September 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm

        I totally agree having a conversation about a13 yr old boy holding onto a “boob” is completely unacceptable.
        Just because the current society pushes teen sex doesn’t mean that’s O.K. for FAMILY friendly t.v.

      • Dana
        September 16, 2014 at 8:23 am

        It seems to me that EVERY new show has to have a “hook” of innuendo–or it won’t make money!

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