I Ain’t Saying She A Gold Digger, But She Ain’t Messing With…

Stay tuned to see if you can say the word that must not be said!

Ky'Tavia 'Kylizzle' Stafford, Reporter

The Show

From hairlines, fried chicken and the “talk”, “Black-ish” accurately depicts the daily life of a modern-day black family living in Los Angeles. Although this family happens to be upper-middle class, the experiences and challenges are one and the same. The struggle to stay “cultural” while keeping up with the times is creatively illustrated throughout this show and its various characters. The patriarch of the family, Andre “Dre” Johnson, narrates this show and tries to use flashbacks and glimpses of his past to try guide his family to realize their plethora of privileges. The focal point of the show, is Dre questioning whether all his success has brought too much cultural assimilation for his family.

This relevant TV show is written by Kenya Barris, an African-American man, and airs at 9:31 pm on Wednesday nights. “Black-ish” premiered on the American Broadcasting Company on September 24, 2014.  Due to the high acclaim, it was renewed for another season. In total, there has been two seasons and 34 episodes to date.

Major Characters

Anthony Anderson plays Andre “Dre” Johnson is a high ranking executive at an advertising agency, and is one of the three black men that work there. He is extremely charismatic, hilarious, and conscious of losing his “black culture.” Tracee Ellis Ross portrays Rainbow “Bow” Johnson who is black and white. She’s a goofy, easygoing doctor who is married to Dre. Her parents were “hippies” and Dre and others take digs at her for it when she comes up with a weird idea. Yara Shahidi plays Zoey Johnson, your typical attitude-filled teen that’s popular and snarky. If she’s not on her phone or social media she’s probably quipping back at her brother, making fun of his inadequate social skills. Marcus Scribner plays Andre Johnson Jr., but is usually referred to as “Junior.” Junior is a dorky, awkward, teenage boy who’s into things like League of Legends and Game of Thrones while being extremely smart. The youngest two children happen to be twins, Diane and Jack,  played by Marsai Martin and Miles Brown, respectively. Diane is sneaky, smart, blunt, and always scheming, while Jack is of innocent nature, extremely talented and looks up to his father.

In the “The Prank King” episode of black-ish, Dre fears his kids won’t get into the spirit of the Johnson family’s Halloween tradition of seeing who can pull the best pranks on each other. They have a tradition of family costumes as well, and were the Jackson 5 this year.  (Pictured)

Supporting Cast

Laurence Fishburne plays Earl “Pops” Johnson, Dre’s father. Pops is often chastising Dre for the way he’s raising his family. From making fun of Bow’s “fried-baked chicken” to Dre not giving his kid whoopings, Pops feels that Dre has let go of black tradition. He is very blunt, straightforward, and has an “old-school” soul and mentality. Ruby, Dre’s mother, is played by Jenifer Lewis. Similar to Pops, Ruby prefers a traditional black family lifestyle and constantly blames Bow for the way the Johnson family is. Ruby often criticizes Bow, yet adores Dre.  However, she does do her best to help the family in her own way. She’s sassy, traditional and frequently invokes God and religion. Ruby and Pops are often at each other’s heads. They were married, but are now divorced.  

She smothers pork chops with gravy, Dre with love, and would like to flat out smother Rainbow, who feels the same way about her.”

— Michael Slezak

Dre and Rainbow (right) walking in on Ruby doing Diane's hair in a "traditional" style. Ruby is often doing against what Bow wants, and this case was Diane's hair.
Dre and Rainbow (right) walking in on Ruby doing Diane’s hair in a “traditional” style. Ruby is often doing against what Bow wants, and this case was Diane’s hair.

Other characters that appear less frequently include: Peter Mackenzie as Leslie Stevens, Dre’s boss and co-owner of Stevens & Lido, Deon Cole as Charlie Telphy, Dre’s co-worker, who is black too. Raven-Symoné as Rhonda, Dre’s sister who is a lesbian but is not yet comfortable discussing her sexuality with anyone, especially her family. Catherine Reitman as Lucy, Dre’s co-worker, who is smart but is overlooked by Leslie and others. Wanda Sykes as Daphne Lido, ex-wife of Phillip Lido and new co-owner of Stevens & Lido.

Season 2 Episode 1- “The Word”

In the new season premiere, a notorious topic is discussed in a light manner that is refreshing and easy to understand. Jack is in a school talent show, and his favorite song happens to be “Gold Digger” by Kanye West . He decides to perform this at the talent show. When it gets to the part where the lyrics say “Now I ain’t saying she a gold digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke niggas.” Jack actually says the “curse word” nigga, instead of skipping it or saying “broke, broke” like the clean mix does. This leads to the school threatening expulsion. At first Dre and Bow were shocked, but Jack rapped it in the car with him. Bow was disproving of the word and usage by Jack, but Dre helped her understand the principle of the matter. He shouldn’t be expelled for this matter because he didn’t mean this word in a malicious manner. Dre and Bow battle in front of the school board, having to explain the history of the word and that Jack had no ill-meaning behind it. They specifically noted that he was black as well, and ended up winning the case. Dre, along with other black coworkers taught their fellow white coworkers who could say the “N-word” in an insightful way. 1 2 3 4 5 6

What Stands Out?

Really? It’s easy. It’s an actual black family, with real-life experiences, being portrayed by actual black people. That’s rare within itself. In this show, black people aren’t minimized and simplified to play gangsters and people that live in the ghetto. It shows a different, genuine, perspective of a black family and their struggles, regardless of socio-economic class. There’s also various questions, perspectives and stereotypes that are explained and shut down in this show. Although it’s in a light and joking matter, this show covers serious issues while explaining them. 

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Why Should I Watch It?

No matter what race you are, how much money you make, or where you’re from, this show is hilarious and relate-able. You’ll have insight into the daily life of black people and you’ll probably understand certain issues more. Also, this show is relatively new, so you don’t have that many episodes to binge on. This show definitely lives up to it’s high acclaim. You never know, maybe you’re “black-ish” too.