New television series ‘Black-ish’ promises big laughs

Demetria Irwin | 9/11/2014, 12:25 p.m.
Tracee Ellis Ross just might have another hit show on her hands. The “Girlfriends” alum is set to co-star in ...
Cast of "Black-ish" ABC

Tracee Ellis Ross just might have another hit show on her hands. The “Girlfriends” alum is set to co-star in the new ABC series “Black-ish,” which also stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne.

Ross and Anderson play a successful married couple—he’s an advertising executive and she’s a surgeon—with four kids in a posh, mostly white L.A. neighborhood. The series will follow the family through their specific journey of living the American dream.

A “Black-ish” screening was held Sept. 6 in a VIP room of rapper Jay Z’s popular 40-40 nightclub in Manhattan. A select group of journalists watched the first episode along with Ross, who arrived in a stylish white Top Shop pants suit with a bold red lip and her signature curly hair.

The first episode introduces the audience to the family at the center of the show. The husband and wife, Andre and Rainbow, raise their four children in a modern suburban way, with the occasional grunts and one-liners from Andre’s more militant father, played by Fishburne.

When Andre and Rainbow’s oldest son announces his desire to have a bar mitzvah for his 13th birthday, Andre realizes that he has failed on some level with teaching his son about what it means to be Black. After a hilarious attempt at an “African” rites of passage ceremony, Andre eventually settles on throwing his son a “bro mitzvah,” complete with graffiti banners and old-school Adidas track suits.

The storylines are realistic—mostly because they come from Anthony Anderson’s and co-creator/head writer Kenya Barris’ lives. Likewise, the writing is skillful and the actors are genuinely funny. The small crowd at the screening erupted into laughter numerous times during the half-hour show.

After the screening, Ross was interviewed by Internet star Franchesa Ramsey, also known as “Chescaleigh.” “It’s a show about a Black family dealing with their ‘ish.’ It’s an opportunity to see that the ‘ish’ for all of us is the same,” said Ross in response to a question about the title of the show.

As far as what Ross hopes audiences take away from the show, she is realistic. “I think the main thing is that this is a comedy. We are not trying to change lives or, like, fix slavery. We’re just trying to make people laugh,” she explained. “But also, we rarely get to see ourselves represented in a way that is identifiable for everybody. We’re not shying away from the issues we deal with specifically as people of color, and yet everybody can identify with the things we are dealing with on the show.”

“Black-ish” premieres on ABC Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m.