Sunday, November 16, 2014

Underthinking Pilot Season: Black-ish

Cat here. I just found out that Selfie has probably been cancelled so I'm not in a great mood. If I genuinely like a television show it's a good sign that it's not built to last. I'm amazed The Mindy Project and Nashville have made it this long. Suburgatory? Pushing Daisies? And yet they renewed Stalker and Scorpion. I have no words.

Let's turn our attention to an ABC that is still on the air... Black-ish. The show shares this fall season's odd obsession with voice-over and the family comedy isn't that unique but I did enjoy the pilot. Anthony Anderson appears to have woken up after sleepwalking through some recent past roles and Laurence Fishburne's presence is very much appreciated. I know his character needs to be used sparingly but I can't help wishing he had a bigger part on the show. His line delivery is just spot on sometimes. I'm not completely sold on the rest of the cast but I think that will come with time, particularly with the child actors. Tracee Ellis Ross is also doing a pretty good job anchoring the show.

As I've mentioned before, with all the awkwardly constructed pilots I've been watching, it's nice to see something competent. The pilot feels slick. The writing is solid. Even though the cast hasn't established the dynamic of a long running family sitcom, you feel like they could get there.

And you have to love a show with an unusual title than manages to get the title into the dialogue.

"I may have to be 'urban' at work but I'm still going to need my family to be black, not black-ish, but black."

Finally, I liked that it was a show that had something to say even if I didn't always agree its sentiments or the way they were stated. Some quotes...

"The only problem is... whatever American had this dream probably wasn't from where I'm from."

"Sometimes I worry that in an effort to make it, black folks have dropped a little bit of their culture and the rest of the world has picked it up. They even renamed it 'urban'."

"And not that I want to go back to the days of being the big scary black guy but I have to admit, it did kind of have its advantages."

"At Stevens and Leto there was a clear separation between lower (diverse) management and upper (not so much) management. And that always made me feel like it was us vs. them."

"I said I wanted to be the first black SVP for Stevens and Leto when actually I wanted to be the first SVP who happened to be black."

"From here on out I'm going to need you two to describe people using 'keeping it real' identifications. The assailant was a Hispanic male between the ages of 10 and 60. See, now I know who I'm looking for."

"Andre, what is this mess you doing?"
"This ain't no mess, pops. This is our culture."
"This ain't our culture. We black not African. Africans don't even like us."

"You're upset because they gave you the job because you're black. If they'd given it to someone white, you'd be upset they didn't give it to someone black! This keeping it real BS has got to stop. I'm not going to have you running around torturing my son."

"Dad, listen, I get it. You feel like I'm turning into a white boy. But I'm not. I'm just being me. I'm just not quite sure who that is yet."

"Field hockey? Man, isn't that a woman's sport?"
"Nope. A lot of people think that though."
"A lot of people never think about field hockey, man."

"All this coming from a biracial or mixed or omni-colored complexion, whatever they're calling it today woman, who technically isn't even really black?"