Black-ish is the latest attempt to sell an ethnic sitcom to the wider, non ethnic audience. Unlike the Cosby Show, in which a Black upper middle class family has the same concerns as any non Black upper middle class, and being Black was not a prominent part of the show, Black-ish is about nothing else but being Black. It’s about upper middle class Black people who are concerned about being Black, ruminating what it means to be Black, embracing Black culture, maintaining Black culture, what is Black Culture… in short, it’s all Black, all the time.
Or at least that’s the case for the main character, Heathcliff Huxtable…err I mean Andre Johnson. Anthony Anderson plays the Bill Cosby character in this Cosby show with guilt that can’t seem to stop thinking about race and its effect on virtually every aspect of his life. I literally could not keep track of the number of stereotypes that this show…not skewered like you would think, but embraced. The main character is desperate to get his family playing basketball, eating fried chicken, you name it.
The lesson here is that assimilation to middle class values is bad, and “keeping it real” is good. But maybe that’s just my white privilege talking. Could this really be a positive uplifting show that I can’t see because of my privilege? If so, how do I “check my privilege” in order to understand the true intent?
After typing into Google, “Am I racist for thinking the new show Black-ish is racist?” I did find there was an actual Change.org petition requesting the show be dropped from the fall schedule because…it’s racist. So I’m not alone on that. But being racist isn’t even the worst sin this show commits.
It’s not funny.
Based on the pilot episode, the laughs were pretty sparse, and by sparse, I mean I didn’t laugh once, although maybe I missed something since I was constantly checking the clock. If the show had been racist and funny, this would have been a totally different review. Some of the stuff that white people like is Black comedians playing up Black stereotypes. Oh, how white people like that! But for a show in which the main character wants to base his life on a racist parody of Black life you would think there would be laughs.
So I cannot give this show my much coveted thumbs up. There might be a Black audience for this show, and maybe it could find a second life on BET, but I don’t think that ABC is going to be keeping this.