Broadcast networks have not had an easy time of it lately landing their shows in many of the top-tier Emmy races, but comedy series is one category where ABC prevailed for five seasons in a row with Modern Family until it was finally unseated last year with HBO’s Veep. Looking to reclaim the crown for the network is ABC’s Modern Family companion series on Wednesday nights, Black-ish, which landed a Best Actor nomination for star Anthony Anderson last year but now hopes to put the critically acclaimed sitcom in many other categories including the big one.
Creator/executive producer/showrunner Kenya Barris, star/EP Anderson and EP Jonathan Groff attended Deadline’s first-ever The Contenders Emmys all day event at the DGA Theatre to tell a packed audience of TV Academy voters about their show and how it really hit its stride in its second season. In its first season alone it racked up several honors including being named as one of the American Film Institute’s Ten Best Shows Of The Year.
Moderator Michael Ausiello, of Deadline’s sister site TVLine, started the session with high praise for the show’s episode dealing with Black Lives Matter. Barris explained the idea came from watching events in Ferguson, MO, and how to have a conversation with your child about what that all means. Anderson explains that mixing levity and comedy with serious issues is a way to make it real as well as entertaining.
Barris says the series avoids the stigma of being known as just a “black show” by bringing truth and universality to their scripts even though it clearly revolves around a black family. He tells Ausiello about the quest to find common humanity in the issues of the day as well as authenticity. Groff points out that the series pulls back the curtain and makes these subjects things to which all audiences can relate, says it opens up talking points, and reflects on its impact on white audiences as well.
Click above to watch the conversation.