By Nandee Mignon
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
There have been a lot of ‘family’ shows throughout television’s history. The pioneering “Leave it to Beaver” was the first of its kind. Coming at an age where the pressure to conform was becoming more and more present, it showed what we all thought (at the time) to be the typical American family – white, upper middle class, usually a family of four, with a house in suburbia and a lawn full of green grass. Yup, that was what we saw.
As the ‘70s rolled around, we started seeing what America really looked like through our television lens – a mixture.
Sitcoms that had a predominant African American cast didn’t really become popular until the ‘70s including “Good Times,” “Different Strokes,” “Family Matters” and let’s not forget “The Jeffersons.” Yeah, we were moving on up.
Now despite all of the classics, there has been this effort to find a nice blend of comedy and reality to create the ‘perfect black sitcom.’
Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” was the closest thing to us seeing a modern day African American family with accuracy. Granted, it is hard to do such a thing when there are now so many aspects to coincide. Are the family immigrants or first generation Americans? Are there any interracial relationships? Is there a single parent or both parents involved? Will a grandparent be present? So many questions, so little air time.
Then there is “Black-ish” – a new sitcom on ABC showing an upper-middle class African American family. Tracee Ellis Ross plays the mother, Rainbow Johnson, while the father, Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson, is played by Anthony Anderson. The creator and writer made sure to cover all bases when it came to this show.
They started out by covering all kinds of skin tones – from the mother and her light tone, to the youngest daughter with her more of a mocha complexion. Seeing so many tasteful representations of African Americans in one family is something that made the viewers’ hearts smile. Having an old, wise, yet loony grandfather in the picture wasn’t a bad choice either. It gave the show this sense of authenticity.
With authenticity, came the problem of addressing stereotypes, or problems that mostly a person of color would face, because, as we all know, the job of the American sitcom is to be funny and personable while teaching valuable life lessons.
However, despite what many thought when anticipating the show’s arrival, it has been doing a very good job at just that.
The writers of the show somehow find a middle ground where they address certain issues while keeping the comedic aspect and making it sensitive enough that no one’s feathers should be ruffled.
In my opinion it is a great and well-pieced together show. It is something, whether a person of color or not, should take a second to watch.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to take a load off, and get a good laugh anyways.
‘Black-ish” is on ABC Wednesday’s at 9:30 p.m.