Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Post-Modern Family

The hot new sitcom this season, if for no other reason than it follows Modern Family, is Black-ish.  It's about a successful, trailblazing black family living in Beverly Hills.  A sitcom featuring a rich, intact black family has raised comparisons to The Cosby Show--comparisons the cast actually hopes for. The father, Andre Johnson, is played by Anthony Anderson, an actor I've always liked. Andre's father, who doesn't let him get away with anything, is played by Laurence Fishburne, better known for drama but letting his hair down a bit here. Then there's Johnson's mixed-race wife Rainbow, an M.D. (played by Tracee Ellis Ross--daughter of Diana), and their kids.

When the oldest son, who goes to a mostly white school, joins the field hockey team and then even wants a bar mitzvah, Andre worries his children are losing their roots.  Meanwhile, he gets promoted at his advertising firm, but it turns out he's senior vice president for the "urban" division, suggesting they still see color as his salient feature.

So there are racial problems going in both directions.  While I don't doubt many successful African-Americans do worry about these sort of things (I've read the producers have taken stories from their own life--not unlike Modern Family), it's interesting The Cosby Show was, in some way, more forward-looking, concentrating on that family's common humanity, and dealing with black issues only in passing.

But forget that. Is it funny?  Well, it goes down easy.  The gags are basic, and the characters (unlike in The Cosby Show) often descend into caricature, but the actors are charming and the plot keeps moving.  I could have done without Andre's narration, even if it helps with the exposition, but the show is worth checking out again.  And in the slot following Modern Family, I'm sure many will be.

13 Comments:

Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

We liked it. A couple of good smart belly laughs.

And it's nice to see Laurence Fishburne get work outside those stupid Capital One commercials.

1:47 AM, October 01, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'll see- just about as funny as The Goldbergs (even if they do waste Jeff Garlin) and social relevant-y so it may hang around.

PS Family Ties seems to be beloved nowadays though I thought it was just digestible filler between other good shows at he time.

5:54 AM, October 01, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

About as funny as The Goldbergs--that's what I'm worried about.

I thought Family Ties was beloved then, but not so much any more.

I assume the Capitol One line is a joke, but you never know these days.

8:08 AM, October 01, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

We gave it a B based on the pilot. We don't watch Modern Family or the Goldbergs, but love The Middle, so the DVR will be on ABC Wed. nights.

I thought the best part was the kids (which is rare). Their complete puzzlement with their parents' angst is entertaining. I get the same thing from my kids, who have friends of various races and ethicities and joke around with them in ways our generation never would feel comfortable with.

I do miss the Cosby sensibility, evidenced in Andre's discomfort over whether he will be the first "Black Sr. VP" or the first "Sr. VP who is Black." And his wife's retort "if they gave you the job because you're Black, you're angry. If they gave it to a white guy, you'ld be angry."

I don't know if you watch "Last Man Standing", Tim Allen's current sit-com. They increasingly take on a lot of social issues, and I like that they fairly present all sides to issues (as opposed to the "All in the Family" model where one side of a debate is set up to be ridiculed). I'm hopefull that Blackish will follow LMS's model.

8:45 AM, October 01, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Modern Family may be getting a bit tired, but it's still a pretty good show, so I'm surprised you skip over it.

9:45 AM, October 01, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"..they fairly present all sides to issues" frankly sounds horrible. I don't want to know about "sides" when I am trying to be entertained. Funny is funny whether it supports or undermines (or usually ignores)your political predispositions

1:53 PM, October 01, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

But that's not the world we're playing in, Anonmymous. The preaching is happening, so the question is whether it's done with an agenda or neutrally. I'm willing to take DG's point.

2:57 PM, October 01, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait a second, you want preaching with neutrality? Good luck.

A different Anonymous.

3:40 PM, October 01, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

We didn't watch Modern Family in the first season, so we've never tried to jump in mid-stream. I figure we'll catch up someday in retirement (as we definitely will with "Lost"). I remember the revelation it was for my parents when they started watching reruns of the early seasons of The Simpsons, 6 or 7 years after that show started.

6:00 AM, October 02, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But that's not the world we're playing in, Anonmymous."

That's only true for a very small subset- most don't give a hoot for the phony media/cable-driven left/right divide

12:14 PM, October 02, 2014  
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