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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Black-ish is a sitcom about a father of four who worries that his African-American family is assimilating too much into its wealthy homogenous community. There is very little to worry parents of young children besides a few off-color references to sex and body parts and a few very mild curses. Parents, particularly those who are interested in discussing race in America, will enjoy watching with kids and discussing the many issues the show brings up. The show's goings-on are mild, entertaining, and sitcom-ish, but the political and social commentary it gently provides is extremely valuable.
What's the story?
Andre "Dre" Johnson (Anthony Anderson) was born, as he puts it, in "the hood." But though he loves the perks of his high-powered advertising job and living in the mostly white, wealthy enclave they've settled into in Los Angeles, he worries that his surroundings are turning his four kids -- indeed, the entire family -- BLACK-ISH. His son Andre Jr. (Marcus Scribner) wants to be called "Andy," play field hockey instead of basketball, and have a bar mitzvah for a birthday party. His dad, Pops (Laurence Fishburne), mocks the youngest Johnson kids for not knowing Obama is the first black president. His doctor wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), is thrilled that her kids "don't see color." But Dre isn't so sure that's a good thing.
Is it any good?
Cute, funny, and fresh, this sitcom comes on with gentle and predictable sitcom plotlines, but it wraps powerful political and social commentary in its mild jokes. Andre Jr. wants an unexpected type of birthday party; we've seen that before on sitcoms, right? And we've seen the resolution before, too, where Junior takes a leaf from Mom and Dad's book and changes the party just enough to please them. Thus, Andre's birthday "bar mitzvah" becomes "Andre's Hip-Hop Bro Mitzvah," with gold chains and break dancing. It could be offensive in less deft hands, but, given the charm of Black-ish's leads, it all comes off delightfully.
Black-ish brings up many topics that parents who care about race and diversity will want to discuss, but it doesn't rant or hector. It's easy to watch, and parents will want their kids to do so. Perhaps its ultimate charm is that the kids won't mind.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's title, Black-ish. What does it mean? Why is the title Black-ish instead of Black? What does the title imply?
Black-ish was created by Kenya Barris, a writer known for such series as The Game. He's from Los Angeles and has a wife who's a doctor and who's named Rainbow; the two of them have three kids together. Writers are often instructed to write what they know; has Barris followed this advice?
Are the Johnsons wealthy or poor? How can you tell?
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