black-ish was the Blackest and Best Thing On TV Yesterday

Photograph: Courtesy of ABC

Yesterday black-ish accomplished what some believed to be impossible. In a 23 minute episode, they covered every relevant fact, opinion, concern, worry, fear, misunderstanding, and truth about police brutality and America’s justice system. 

Last year around this same time, Shonda Rhimes took a pause from the story in Scandal to shed light on millions of viewers about police brutality and the current corruption in our justice system. I believe that the episode of Scandal is worthy of being shown around the world when it comes to starting the conversation. I am 100% certain that this episode of black-ish joins that elite group of productions that adequately and truthfully portray how America’s system is not designed to ensure justice for all. And just like Kerry Washington, Courtney B. Vance, and Cornelius Smith Jr. perfected every part of their on screen performance during that Scandal episode, the entire cast of black-ish perfectly delivered their Emmy-award deserving episode last night.

The episode was brilliantly shot in one room (or one set). The creator of black-ish Kenya Harris told The New York Times that the shooting of the episode was intentional. “We wanted to let the audience eavesdrop on this family’s conversation. I felt like the best way to do that was to let the viewer be an eighth member of the family.”

The episode focused on the created “McQuillan” case. Watching the episode you learn that the young person in question was pulled over by the police for speeding, but was wrongfully tazed multiple times. The family is watching the case play out on television and one of the major concerns in the episode is how to inform the children of what is occurring. Tracee Ellis Ross’ character’s, Bow, fears resonated with parents all around, but so did Anthony Anderson’s character’s, Dre, point of view. Bow didn’t want to tell the kids (twins) exactly what was happening because she believed they were too young, but Dre basically felt there was never a perfect time and that they needed to be inform. Eventually the twins did find out what was going on, but it wasn’t exactly intentional (which is real life).

The episode titled “Hope” was excellently packaged. I was worried how they would keep the show a comedy while covering such a sensitive issue, but they did it flawlessly. Social Media users agreed that they genially laughed during the episode and still felt the seriousness that surrounded the subject. What made the episode even more special was that the writers didn’t have to change the nature of the characters to get the array of points across. Marcus Scribner’s character’s, Junior, usual demeanor surprisingly led him to be a voice of reason. One of his lines summed up the entire reason the conversation needs to occur: “Police definitely have a place in society, but with almost 1,000 police related fatalities and billions of dollars in misconduct settlements, there might be some issues.” One of the most chilling moments that occurred was the twins asking Yara Shadadi’s character, Zoey, if she was going to give up. And Dre’s monologue on President Obama was intense, but full of truth. That fear was real for millions of people watching him walk and wave with no immediate protection. (clip below)

‘black-ish’ touched on Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and so many more victims that stem from people who are sworn to protect to the law abusing it. There was a particular part of the episode where Bow raised the issue that if 25% of victims shot by police were unarmed, that means that 75% were armed and that cops have to deal with that everyday. But Junior quickly reminded her that it is the police’s job (*inserts someone screaming “Yaaaaassss”).

The facts and the statistics show that America is not set up fair, and there are serious revisions that need to occur within our justice system. The struggle has always existed, but it has recently become very mainstream. Beyoncé has got us in formation; Kendrick has reminded us that we’re going to be ‘Alright.’ And black-ish is keeping up with trend… Unapologetically telling the truth about the Black experience. 

You’ve earned an Emmy from this episode. Regardless if it’s given or not. Thank you for taking the risk! It’s needed. 

Watch the episode here:


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Bryant Smith

Bryant Smith is the founder and owner of The Top Tea.

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