As it was revealed earlier Monday, Mariah Carey will sing the theme song of Mixed-ish, the latest spinoff of Black-ish, or, as the show’s executive producer Tracee Ellis Ross calls it, “The -Ish” universe. Being biracial herself, it is appropriate that Carey would sing and write the theme song, but her involvement in the show may go beyond that.
“She’s expressed interest in doing an episode,” executive producer and showrunner Karen Gist said during the Mixed-ish panel at TCA.
Joining Gist and Ross on the panel was executive producer Peter Saji as well as cast members Tika Sumpter, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Arica Himmel, Ethan William Childress, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Christina Anthony and Gary Cole. The cast and producers unpacked the details of the spinoff that explores the origin story of Rainbow Johnson.
As Ross points out, Bow’s story hasn’t been explored. More than that, biracial narratives have seldom been explored on television. “This is an opportunity to unpack that in a much larger way,” said Ross.
Set in the ’80s, Mixed-ish recounts Bow’s experience growing up in a mixed-race family and the dilemmas they face to acclimate in the suburbs while staying true to themselves. Bow’s parents Pau (Gosselaar) and Alicia (Sumpter) decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white. This family’s experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one’s own identity when the rest of the world can’t decide where you belong.
The stage is appropriately populated by people of color and those who come from a mixed race background — this includes Ross, Saji and Gosselaar (who is of Indonesian heritage and took the place of Anders Holm who played Paul in the original pilot). Although the show takes place in the ’80s, the producers express how it’s a story that is appropriate for the times we live in.
“What we are aiming to do is to have a conversation about race in the ’80s that was safer in that world to discuss that are relevant to what we are going through now as a nation,” said Gist.
Said Saji, “We are trying to make the present relevant to the past.” He adds that race is a complicated issue. “The journey of this family is going to be dealing with everything from both sides of the situation.”
Gist remarks that they want to make this true to Bow’s experience. “We want this show to be about identity…what we hope to do is shine a light on those who feel othered. Hopefully, that’s all the audience.”
Mixed-ish debuts on ABC in the fall.