A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that #BlackAF is an original comedy series directed by Kenya Barris (Shaft, Girl's Trip, Little) and centers on a newly wealthy black family, and how they are coping with newly navigating the world with privilege. It stars both Kenya Barris, creator of shows like Black-ish and Mixed-ish, and Rashida Jones (Spies in Disguise, Klaus). The adults of the Barris household embrace modern parenting, and don't necessarily strive to be the "perfect" family. Parents are open about their flaws, and unapologetically and unabashedly embrace being both black and rich. There's strong adult language. This series is intended for older teenagers and mature audiences. Language such as "s--t," "f--k," "darkie," "coon," "rap monkey," a--hole, "THOT," and "d--k" is used. There's sexual innuendo, and talk of penis size is discussed among adults. Some negative stereotypes are depicted. Themes of open communication between adults and children, real-world issues and conversations, and topics around race are not sugar-coated. Families who watch with teens should be prepared for very frank discussions about issues and realities concerning race. While Barris has created successful shows such as Black-ish, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish, #BlackAF doesn't quite stack up.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
#BLACKAF is a modern and provocative comedy series about a father, Kenya (Kenya Barris) who takes a cheeky and honest approach to parenting his six kids as well as in the manner that he interacts with his wife, Joya (Rashida Jones), his peers, and business colleagues. As a "new money" black family, the Barris family navigates their world with both privilege, liberality, and transparency -- sometimes to a fault.
Is it any good?
This comedy series does a good job of light-heartedly tackling weightier issues such as: the 'white gaze,' the isolation that wealthy, black kids often feel at predominantly white private schools, and the balancing act that many feel the need to play as they socially climb and more. One of the most powerful themes of #BlackAF is the clever depiction of what Dr. Cornel West and author Toni Morrison have coined as "paraphernalia of suffering," which is essentially the over-consumption of material things such as cars, homes, and clothing as a means to compensate for generations of emotional and psychological trauma by an oppressive society. The concept of obtaining "new money" is comically depicted with valuable urgency. Parents are depicted as being open about their flaws, and lessons are learned about racial and social thought patterns.
While the frequent strong language can be distracting, #BlackAF addresses a serious question that many people of color around the world--especially black people, still grapple with today. "How do you get accepted or navigate in an environment where you are now forced to live with the same people who for 400 years have oppressed you?" The humorous depiction of the "white gaze" is effective. However, many of the tropes depicted are predictable. The images of enslaved people working on cotton plantations, the historical mini-lessons on "peacocking" and "Sunday Best" are enough to keep viewers intrigued even if the messages are redundant. Reference to racial epithets that have a historically negative connotation such as "darkie" and "coon" provide a great opportunity to revisit this part of history with teenagers and even adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dynamic of the Barris household. Are the parents traditional or unconventional? Are they role models?
The "white gaze" is a major theme throughout the series. What is the "white gaze" and in what way does it affect the Barris household? Are the kids within the Barris household affected by the "white gaze," or just the parents?
What role does race play in #BlackAF? What role does perceptions of blackness play within #BlackAF?
What stereotypes are present within #BlackAF? Are any stereotypes defied within this series?
Honesty and communication are two major themes in #BlackAF. In what ways do the Barris children communicate with their parents? In what ways do the parents communicate with their kids?
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