Season 1, Series Premiere
Air Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 9:30/8:30c on ABC
“I have an idea; why don’t we take a black break and go get some white yogurt.” – Rainbow
There is a term, white washed, that comes to mind when you think of ethnic groups who’ve become distant from their cultural background. Basically, if you are of a non-white origin, get a good education, a great paying job, and move out of the proverbial hood, you’ve become white washed. What’s wrong with wanting to better yourself and create a prosperous life for your family? After all, America is a giant melting pot, right? I mean, even food is getting in on it. There is Asian fusion, Tex-Mex, and a bevy of mixed up everything. Our venture into the Johnson family’s world revolves around one thing – have they lost their blackness?
I am a huge fan of Anthony Anderson, who plays Andre Johnson. Yes, I even liked him in the first Transformers movie. Andre, or “Dre” as his family and co-workers sometimes call him, is a successful businessman in a marketing firm. Does it matter if he’s black? You bet your sweet “urban” butts it does. Black-ish is a fun, comedic look at what many families of ethnic origins may experience when they move their families to more affluent neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by Caucasian families.
Many things can be misconstrued with race and cultural issues but Black-ish doesn’t poke fun at being less African American just because the family lives in a nice big house in the suburbs and their kids love frozen yogurt. Black-ish is the story of one man trying to help his family remember where they come from, even if it means acting a bit foolish at times.
The wonderful cast of Black-ish helps create the realism you need to believe Andre’s plight. His lovely wife, who happens to be a doctor,aptly named Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), is “bi-racial.” Andre’s father, Pops, is played by the amazing Laurence Fishburne. Fishburne is an instigator and likes to poke fun at Andre’s expense when it comes to how Andre is raising his kids. At the dinner table, a discussion about the president of the United States comes up and the two youngest kids, Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin), seem surprised at the number of black presidents we’ve had. Oh yeah, the kids are named Jack and Diane. I’m feeling a bit Cougar-Mellancamp-ish right now. Even the two older kids, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) and Andre, Jr. (Marcus Scribner), aren’t quite sure about the historic aspect of the topic of discussion, which leads Andre to doubt his parental skills regarding teaching his kids about black culture.
Rainbow doesn’t see what the big deal is and tries to talk Andre down off his proverbial pedestal but Andre has his mind set. Ross and Anderson play well off each other. Both have great comedic timing and their banter is so much fun to watch. Meanwhile, Pops makes comments about the “baked fried chicken.” Fishburne brings such a great vibe to the show. He shows off his funny bone in this role and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Pops’ antics.
While there are some cliché references about several cultures, it’s all done with class. Not every white person likes frozen yogurt. And not all black people eat fried chicken. For the record, I’m Korean-Caucasian and I love frozen yogurt and fried chicken.
Andre is up for a big promotion at work, which would signify a historic feat for the company. He would be the first African-American senior vice president at the firm. But, there is a twist he doesn’t expect. At home, Andre deals with his oldest son, and namesake, Andre Jr., who goes by “Andy” at school and wants to have a “bar mitzvah” for his 13th birthday. Wait…what? They aren’t Jewish. What ensues in Andre’s quest to give his son the ultimate birthday bash while showing him his “roots” is hilarious.
“Pilot” gives us a peek inside the Johnson family’s so-called struggle living life as a wealthy black family in an affluent white neighborhood. While the series premiere is more focused on Andre’s inner pride and how he feels he hasn’t really done right by his kids, in the end, it’s all about family and the things you do to show them how much you care. If you’re looking for a fresh, witty new comedy, grab some fro-yo and check out Black-ish.
What did you think of Black-ish? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below or tweet me @judybopp.
Tune in to Black-ish, Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.
For more on the show, go to http://abc.go.com/shows/blackish.
Follow Black-ish on Twitter @Black_IshABC.
Like Black-ish on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/blackishABC.
Photos: © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
© 2014, Judy Manning. All rights reserved.
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