tek's rating: ½

Black-ish, on ABC
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Season One
This is about an advertising executive named Andre "Dre" Johnson (Anthony Anderson), and his wife, Rainbow "Bow" Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross), who is an anesthesiologist, and their kids: 15-year-old Zoey (Yara Shahidi), 13-year-old Junior, and 6-year-old twins Jack and Diane. Dre can often be a typically ridiculous TV husband/father, with Bow being the more reasonable wife/mother, but the show is kind of refreshing in that those roles can often be reversed. Meanwhile, Zoey is a popular kid, while Junior is more geekish in his interests. And the twins have an interesting dynamic as the cute "babies" of the family, who can also be partners in troublemaking (though Diane is definitely the smarter, more sarcastic and diabolical of the two). Also, Dre's father, Earl "Pops" (Laurence Fishburne), lives with them, and often derides Dre. And we occasionally see Dre's mother, Ruby (who appears more frequently later in the first season, and becomes a regular starting in season two). She and Pops are divorced, so they don't always get along very well. And there's a typical sitcom mother/daughter-in-law rivalry between Ruby and Bow. (Ruby is a deeply religious woman, much more conservative than Bow in some ways, while Dre falls somewhere in between.) We also often see Dre working at Stevens & Lido. His boss is a guy named Leslie Stevens; I don't think we've ever seen Lido. Dre's coworkers include a couple of guys named Charlie Telphy (Deon Cole) and Josh Oppenhol, and a woman named Lucy. Of the three, I'd definitely say Charlie is the most interesting, because he's pretty weird (sometimes disturbingly so). Also, he is terrified of Diane.

At the start of the series, Dre is concerned that his family is losing touch with their Black roots. While I found that to be an important issue, I did have a few problems with how the premise was handled, in the premiere. Later, while looking for links to include above, I happened across an article on HuffingtonPost.com that rather eloquently illustrated those problems. However, since the premiere I feel that it has expanded reasonably well beyond the initial premise to become more of a typical family (and workplace) sitcom. It still occasionally deals with the original premise (sometimes in a better way, sometimes not), but of course that's far from the sole focus of any of the characters' lives. Anyway... I do think the show is reasonably amusing, and the characters are well-written and acted.

Season Two
On the whole, I think the show is much the same this season, but it does sometimes more directly address specific issues regarding race in America. The season premiere did this with the N-word, and the season's 16th episode, Hope, was a particularly powerful look at the question of what (and when) black parents should tell their children about police brutality. (There are also less serious, more comical issues, in other episodes.) And I think we see the Johnsons' neighbor Janine (Nicole Sullivan) more often this season (she might have only been in one ep in season one). Also this season, in episode 9, Charlie leaves Stevens & Lido, and a woman named Daphne Lido (Wanda Sykes) gets her husband's share of the company in the divorce. So Stevens now shares the running of the company with Daphne. In episode 18, the Johnsons hire a nanny named Vivian. And Charlie returns to Stevens & Lido at some point.

And... various other stuff happens this season, some of which I may feel the need to mention later. Anyway, I do think the series has continued to improve throughout the first two seasons, both in terms of comedy and the more serious plots. I still think that it's usually just good, but it definitely has moments (and episodes) of greatness.

Season Three
At the end of last season, Bow found out she was pregnant. So of course her pregnancy plays a part in some of this season's stories. Also throughout the season, we occasionally see Bow's brother, Johan, spending time with the Johnsons. He's... I dunno what to say, kind of hippie-like, or something. And I think it was this season that Mr. Stevens's son, Connor (Nelson Franklin, whom I know from New Girl) began working at Stevens & Lido. The penultimate episode is about Zoey spending a couple of days at the college she'll be attending next fall. (There's going to be a spin-off series about that, so this episode was kind of a back-door pilot.) And in the season finale, Bow finally has her baby, Devante. (Dre had chosen the name earlier in the season.) And... I'm not sure what else to say about the season, right now.

Season Four
The season begins with a musical episode about the holiday Juneteenth. Halfway through the season, Zoey leaves for college (and her own spin-off, Grown-ish). And... lots of stuff happens throughout the season, of course. One thing I want to mention is an episode that had a very cool visual reference to Get Out. And there was an episode where Stevens & Lido supposedly created a Procter & Gamble ad, The Talk, which (in real life) had come out several months before that episode aired. And Junior graduates high school. And the last four episodes of the season take a serious focus on marital difficulties between Dre and Bow, which leads to a temporary separation.

Season Five
The season begins with Junior going off to college... and immediately returning home, having suddenly decided to take a gap year. So he'll spend the season trying to figure out what he actually wants to do with his life... if he can stay focused long enough to think about it. Meanwhile, Dre gets him an intern job at Stevens & Lido. Also, Bow's father dies. Oh... and I guess I never mentioned it, but in one of the previous seasons, the Johnsons' nanny had quit, and they later hired a new one, whose name I don't recall. (Dre himself just called them "Black Nanny" and "Black Nanny 2.") We never saw that much of either one, but anyway, this season the second one quits. And in the season finale, Junior gets a job managing a Twitter account (or something like that) for the hip-hop group Migos, which leads him to decide not to return to college.

Season Six
Concurrent with this season, a spin-off prequel called Mixed-ish premiered. Meanwhile, Pops gets engaged to a woman named Lynette. Jack worries about finding a new interest after getting cut from the basketball team. Junior does a number of different jobs, though his main gig remains working at Stevens & Lido. At Christmas, Lynette breaks up with Pops, leaving him heartbroken. Jack eventually joins the robotics club at school. Bow joins the Medical Board of California. Bow chooses a preschool for Devante, but Dre has trouble accepting its unorthodox nature. And... somehow I guess I've never mentioned that Dre has a sister named Rhonda (Raven-Symoné), who has been seen occasionally throughout the series. At some point this season, she got divorced from her wife, and she decides to adopt a baby (though she that hasn't actually happened yet). At the end of the season, Pops and Ruby start a new relationship together, which Dre isn't happy about, because he worries Pops will screw it up sooner or later. But he finally accepts it.

Season Seven
A couple weeks before the season officially began, there was a 2-part Election Special. In the first part, Junior is excited to vote in his first presidential election, until he finds his name has been purged from the voter rolls. This leads him to learn about the many ways Black voters are disenfranchised by the country's political system. In the second part, which is animated, Dre and Stevens run against each other for Congress. (I'm not sure if the first part is canonical to the series or not, but I'm pretty sure the second part isn't.)

In the early episodes of the regular season, the Johnsons really struggle with the stress of life during the Covid-19 pandemic, but most of the season barely alludes to it. Anyway, this season Junior is dating a woman named Olivia Lockhart, whom he'd met at the end of season six. Eventually he moves in with her. Also this season, Pops and Ruby get re-married. And at the end of the season, Dre quits Stevens & Lido to start his own ad agency, but that doesn't last long before he returns to Stevens & Lido. However, he moves from the "urban" advertising department to general advertising. Which I guess is a promotion? And I can't really think of any other major plot points this season.

Season Eight
This is the final season, and I don't want to spoil anything about it. But the finale provides a good amount of closure.

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