Parents' Guide to

Black-ish Election Special

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Hopeful special explores history of voter oppression.

TV ABC Comedy 2020
Black-ish Election Special Poster Image

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Ditching its usual storylines in favor of a two-part story that digs into modern American politics from a Black viewpoint, offering viewers both bittersweet laughs and a shred of hope. The special's first episode feels a lot more like a regular ep of Black-ish, with a clearly defined issue (Junior's removal from the voter rolls) and the regular cast hanging around scoring points as usual. Pops (Laurence Fishburne) directs Junior to one of his favorite online conspiracy theorists; Diane (Marsai Martin) spins a fantasy about becoming an all-powerful dictator; it's up to Dre to show Junior the way. "All our lives we've been told how important it is to vote to change the system, but it feels like the system keeps on finding ways to make sure our voices don't matter," says Junior. But Dre points out that the system wants Junior to feel hopeless: "People are out there working their asses off to keep us from voting," he tells he son. "They're only doing that because they're afraid of our power. The ballot is the best weapon we have." Spoiler alert: Junior votes!

The special's second half is animated, with the entire cast including the Johnson clan and the staff at Dre's workplace, represented by 2D avatars. Times are tough in this animated world, when Dre's amoral boss Stevens running for office inspires Dre to do likewise. But of course, Dre's path doesn't run smooth; while everything comes easily for Stevens. When Dre promises that his campaign won't use underhanded tactics, that when Stevens goes low, he'll go high, Stevens sneers that "While you go high, I'll go to my $20,000 a plate fundraising dinner" and he'll make enough money to crush Dre's ambitions. Fans of Black-ish know that Dre will always find a way to avoid being flattened...but watching the struggle is instructive, in more ways than one. By slipping sly commentary into smooth, expert comedy, Black-ish scores -- expect this special to spark many a kitchen-table conversation, and possibly even inspire the next generation of activists.

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