Late to the Black-ish party, I was wondering if I would not find it as funny and charming as others, as well as occasionally right on the mark with its addressing of more serious issues. Would it fall prey to the overselling phenomenon? (why does this sound like the beginning of every Sex and the City episode as Carrie typed away?) I am glad to tell you that the answer is no. It is as delightful as you have heard it is. Millions already know it and they are not wrong.
First, you start with the cast. Is there an any more likable person in the acting world than Tracee Ellis Ross? I would be hard-pressed to name one. Believe me when I say that I am a film/series/pop culture junkie, so if I have a hard time…Besides the fact that she is so likable, there is also her comedic timing. What I mean, is that it is amazing. The combo of her and veteran comedic actor Anthony Anderson bouncing stuff off of each other is a sight to behold. Both are willing to go to any lengths to get a laugh. Egos are at zero here. A great comedy couple heads the show.
Then you have the cast of four young (boy, were they ever at the beginning of this series!) actors who play their kids. Each is a little bit of a stereotype. The brilliant evil youngest daughter, the dopey handsome eldest son and the image obsessed teenage daughter. Each young actor is perfectly cast for their character. Like many sitcoms, each is given a headlining storyline every so often in order to give them their moment in the sun. Even when not the focal point, each makes you sit up and notice them.
Then finally, the permanent cast is rounded out by two actors who play, Anderson/Dre’s parents – Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Lewis. It is quite cool to see the usually serious actor with plenty of gravitas – Fishburne – play in a comedic serious. and he is funny even though the character he is playing is rather intimidating and serious. For me, the scene stealer of the series (though an argument could be made for Marsai Martin as Diane) is Jennifer Lewis as Dre’s mom Ruby. She is a hoot. Full of piss and vinegar and biting quips. Lewis is fantastic in the role totally owning it.
I know, I know there are a lot of first world problems going on here. But my counterargument is we have seen a ton of rich white families in shows/sitcoms so why not a black one? Plus there are, as previously stated, some important issues addressed here about what it means to be a person of colour in this world. Racism does not care how much money you have in your bank account, either.
As this is a network show (ABC), the seasons are long. There are 24 episodes in season one. The saving grace is that this is a half hour sitcom so each episode, with the commercials removed, is about 23 minutes, so you will whiz right through them.
Episodes here involve a flashback to 1920s Harlem, Dre lying about getting a vasectomy, Pops and Ruby rekindling their love affair, the kids not wanting to keep up the family Halloween tradition, and Andre facing a bully at school.