There are wise minds -- none of them mine -- that consider "Black-ish" TV's next big thing. A poll of the Television Critics Association chose it as this fall's most promising new comedy. I have some others above it -- "Selfies," "A to Z," "The McCarthys" -- but I agree that "Black-ish" is an interesting show to watch and to think about. It arrives Wednesday (Sept. 24, just after "Modern Family") on ABC; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
This is supposed to be a goal in life: You move up, giving
your kids a better world than you knew.
Then you start to wonder what you’ve skipped. “My son was 12
(when) he said, ‘Dad, I don’t feel black,’” recalled Anthony Anderson, star of
ABC’s new “Black-ish.”
So Anderson chatted about his own struggle to give his
family more; his son said he understood. “And then, in the same breath, he
said, ‘OK, Dad. For my 13th birthday, I want a bar mitzvah’ …. I
told him, ‘I will throw you a hip hop bro mitzvah.’”
That sets the mood for “Black-ish,” which faces the
reactions to a changing world. Just ask:
Kenya Barris, the show’s writer. “My wife’s a
doctor,” he said. “She’ll come home and … I’ll say, ‘I’m hungry.’ And she’ll go,
Tracee Ellis Ross, who co-stars as Anderson’s
wife, an anesthesiologist; in real life, she’s the result of upward mobility. A
generation ago, sisters grew up in a Detroit housing project. One (Tracee’s
aunt) became a doctor and the first black female to be dean of a med school; the
other (Tracee’s mom) is Diana Ross, mega-star.
Larry Wilmore. At 52, he finds himself in high
demand – as a “Black-ish” producer-writer, a “Daily Show” correspondent and the
anchor of the show (“The Minority Report”) that will follow “The Daily Show”
when Stephen Colbert leaves.
And Anderson, an expert on upward mobility. “I
grew up in the hood, in Compton, California,” he said. “And the existence that
my son knows is nothing short of privilege, being in private school since the
age of 4.”
For any ethnic group that assimilates or anyone who shifts
financial brackets, Barris said, there are adjustments. He remembers his
daughter going to great lengths to explain which classmate she was talking
about. “I was like, ‘Hold on. Do you mean the only other little black girl in
your class?’ And she was like, ‘I guess so.’”
In the new world, racial identities shift and words get
tricky. Still, it sometimes works out; Anderson said his son’s party was fine.
“His Jewish friend said that was the best bar mitzvah they’ve been to.”
“Black-ish,” 9:31 p.m. Wednesdays (after “Modern
Debuts Sept. 24; the opener will rerun at 9:30
p.m. Friday (Sept. 26) on ABC Family.