I’ve just started watching Blackish and I’m obsessed. It’s hilarious and manages to balance racial issues with humor. Black-ish reminded me of our discussion of The Cosby Show in the construction of social class and race. For example the episode I just watched dealt with the “n” word and its connotation among different races, genders, and ages.
Like the Huxtables, the Johnsons are a middle class family in an affluent neighborhood. Dre Johnson, the father of the house, is worried this suburban lifestyle will compromise his family’s understanding of their roots and cultural background—essentially their “blackness.”
When actor Anthony Anderson, who plays Dre, was asked about The Cosby Show Anthony admits he admired The Cosby Show as a kid.
“There’s something to seeing a black doctor and black lawyer living in a loving marriage, raising happy and stable children with no one questioning it,” he tells his father.
“I invested in the Huxtables,” Dre continues. “They made me believe that I could have a family like them. And then, that news about Bill Cosby hit and I was devastated.”
As discussed in The Sitcom Reader The Cosby Show was progressive in its depiction of blackness and masculinity, and it is unfortunate that now it is associated with Bill Cosby’s sex scandal. Though I have not watched the episode yet, Black-ish paid homage to The Cosby Show in the episode titled “The Johnsons.” They recreate the opening credits and honor the 80s sitcom. Watch here for an exclusive clip on the episode.
“The Johnson Show,” will honor the ’80s family sitcom by recreating the iconic dance-filled opening credits, and only ETonline has your exclusive sneak peek of their smooth moves.
Although Black-ish presents a black sitcom family it is no Cosby Show. If anything, I would compare the characters to Modern Family and the Dunphy’s. There’s a strong similarity between the Johnson family and the Dunphy family. Both families present children with similar characteristics. In Black-ish, Zoey is the fashionable, sometimes ditzy, older teenage daughter who, like Haley in Modern family, expresses an interest popular style websites. (Zoey has her own YouTube channel about makeup and Haley pens a fashion blog). Both families have a dim (that may be too harsh) son, on Black-ish it’s Andre Jr and on Modern family it’s Luke. Surprisingly the “smart daughter” (who would be Alex in MF) is 6-year-old Diane on Blackish.
Of course this is a generalization of each character, but Black-ish undeniably presents a similar family dynamic to the Dunphy’s in terms of the character’s traits and narrative. Be this as it may, Black-ish offers a discourse unlike any sitcom I have seen.
Even their homes are similar!
– Ziba Klein