A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages abound about why it's important to participate in the democratic process. Viewers will be educated on the Electoral College, voting rights in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, literacy tests and other methods of voter suppression, women's suffrage, the "three-fifths" compromise and many other aspects of U.S. political history. The overall vibe is upbeat: Regular people can and do affect change.
Positive Role Models
This sitcom about a Black/multiracial family always blends sitcom humor with warm family drama and sly social commentary; this special is no different. Every member of the Johnson family is up for political engagement, and each finds a way to participate. Parents are present and encouraging. Dre's boss Stevens, a rich white guy, is a stereotype played for laughs, but the parallels to other rich white clueless politicians are choice.
Violence & Scariness
There's no actual violence, but Diane does make a joke about being a dictator in which she says if anyone opposed her "the streets would run red with their blood."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content is limited to one joke, in which it's said about an older rich white guy running for office "When the wiener pills stop working, they try to screw the country."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Language includes "damn," "ass," "f--k" is bleeped.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's some humor about drinking, like when Junior says he didn't drink underage in college (he only went for 3 days) and Pop says he's had "a little to drink." Several characters drink wine, including one who seems to be having a glass to deal with tough emotions.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Black-ish Election Special is a two-part episode of Black-ish that seeks to illuminate various aspects of American politics and to inspire viewers to vote. Positive messages are extensive: the show underlines the power of voting and the importance of participating in the political process in different ways. It also educates viewers about a number of important issues, including voter suppression, the Electoral College, the difficulty women and people of color have had getting the vote and ways that they've been stopped from actually casting their votes. The overall vibe is upbeat and light; viewers will feel energized instead of discouraged. As is typical of Black-ish, family ties are strong and family members are supportive of each other. Any iffy material is contained in jokes: there's one about older white men running for office that assumes they're grasping for power because they've lost sexual potency, and another in which a girl imagines being a dictator with the power to make the streets "run red with the blood" of those who oppose her. Several characters drink wine, and one makes a joke about the alcohol affecting his perception of a speech. Language is infrequent: "damn," "ass," and one bleeped "f--k."
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Educational TV Shows for Kids
Amazing Books for Teens Exploring Black History
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate