Having given many Americans their first exposure to the true significance of Juneteenth back in 2017, Black-ish this season continued to spotlight hard truths around race and wealth – sometimes from a very personal perspective.
“I then came back with the story of one family trying to out-black the other black family on the vacation,” star Anthony Anderson said during Deadline’s virtual Contenders Television event, discussing the partial inspiration for the Kenya Barris-created show’s writers for Season 6’s “Kid Life Crisis” episode.
“There’s always another door you can enter when you come into a room someplace,” the multiple Emmy nominee said of the competition of wealth and access that African American families too often find themselves forced into in predominantly white environments, like luxury holidays.
“Those are the things that I pitch and try to come up with throughout the season,” he said. “It’s all based on personal experiences, experiences that we all go through and how we can tell the best story from those experiences that will resonate with an audience and keep their attention.”
It was in that vein that earlier this week, Black-ish was moved forward to the fall by ABC, in many ways because of the show’s piercing instincts. Combined with the ever-evolving national cultural and political discussion right now about systemic racism and police brutality coming out of the killing of George Floyd, Black-ish is a more pivotal part of the discourse than perhaps ever before.
“It’s imperative that the dialogue continues and empowers viewers to raise their voices, and there is no other show that does that like Black-ish,” Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment, told Deadline last week of the scheduling shift for the sitcom to meet the times.
Having spawned two spinoffs already in Grown-ish and Mixed-ish and back for a seventh season later this year, Black-ish also tackled generational issues at both ends this past season. There were the tests and triumphs of a growing family, as Anderson’s Dre Johnson and Bow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) went through their brood’s move out of childhood into the adult world. On the flip side, ad executive Dre found himself in the Season 6 finale in some cringe-worthy and complex situations as his long-estranged parents, played by Jenifer Lewis and Laurence Fishburne, secretly reunited.
With his fictional family front of mind, Anderson said he found it a “beautiful thing” to witness his young co-stars grow into seasoned actors. “That’s the dynamic that has affected me the most,” the star and EP made clear of his time on the show.
Produced by Disney’s ABC Studios, Black-ish is is executive produced by Barris, Anderson, Fishburne, Courtney Lilly, Laura Gutin Peterson, Gail Lerner, Helen Sugland, E. Brian Dobbins and Michael Petok.
Check out the panel video above.