Written by: 
Regular Air Date: 
Wednesdays @ 9:30/8:30C
Air Date: 
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Love & Marriage

Traci Ellis Ross's character, Doctor Rainbow Johnson, is named after the show creator's own wife, Rainbow, who is also a doctor.

I’ve been excited for Blackish for months, ever since the debut of the trailer. It’s been a long time since there’s been a sitcom on a major network starring an African-American family.  In fact, ABC, with the greenlighting of Selfie and Fresh Off the Boat, shows a clear direction of investing in diverse entertainment. This being the second golden age of television, networks are willing to step outside of their comfort zones and back programming they previously shied away from. I’m sure this turn is also in no small part due to the incredible success of Shonda Rhimes; and if part of her formula for success is blind casting, then ABC is making some very smart business decisions.

It’s not just the diversity of cast that has me excited, but the quality of cast. Executive producers comedian Anthony Anderson, and the legendary Laurence Fishburne  along with sitcom queen co-star Traci Ellis Ross have been beloved on screens big and small for decades. Having this triumvirate of talent, as well as Larry Willmore of The Daily Show fame as showrunner, pushed the show beyond my expectations. I tend not to be a fan of sitcoms at all, but thanks to well done jokes, vivacious characters presenting different attitudes and humor, and a real heart, the pilot of Blackish is excellent.

Andre “Dre” Johnson (Anthony Anderson) and wife Doctor Rainbow Johnson (Traci Ellis Ross) are trying to bridge the generation gap between Dre’s stoic father, Pops (Laurence Fisburne) and his affectionate son, Andre Jr (Marcus Scribner) who wants nothing more than to fit in at school. Dre and Rainbow had always dreamed of giving their kids a better life than they had and Dre is finally tasting some real success by  becoming a senior vp at his marketing firm. However, he starts transferring the anxieties he feels about going from “us” to “them” on to his children.

Dre realizes that he and his children are living in culturally different worlds. Desperate to make sure his children know the importance of their heritage leads to a few misguided attempts (an “African” rights of passage that looks exactly Simba’s coronation scene from The Lion King), misunderstandings, and lots of laughs and ultimately a lesson learned. This formula of a family sitcom is not new and that is exactly the point: The stars of Blackish may not look like the usual casting of it’s genre, but this family, like most sitcom families showcases something anyone can relate to.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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