Friday, February 26, 2016

This week's episode of black-ish

As if they foresaw last week's class discussion, the writers of black-ish chose the latest episode to tackle police brutality in a way that looks very familiar:

The entire episode takes place around the living room TV, as Dre and his family wait for the results of a police brutality case. Visually it mirrors the episode of The Cosby Show that we watched a clip of in class. The theme of this episode is "Hope," although for the majority of the episode absolutely nobody seems to have any hope about what the outcome of the case. Unlike the Cosby's, Dre and his family do not sit placidly and hopefully in front of the television. They debate the TV; they debate each other. Three generations of black point of views are represented: Dre's grandfather who was formerly "Black Panther adjacent," Dre and his wife who grew up after the Civil Rights movement and voted for Obama, and Dre's children who quote Ta-Nehisi Coates and want to join the protest, but still have to have The Talk from their parents about what to do when confronted by cops.

blackish isn't the first network show to address police brutality this year - both Scandal and The Good Wife attempted to with mixed results - but it's the first to finish the episode without an easy solution. It still seems aware of a white audience (there is a lot of exposition before jokes land). Nonetheless, when thinking about television as a forum for culture's concerns, this episode - which asks lots of questions about race and power but can't answer all of them - seems particularly relevant.

Full episode is on Hulu here.

1 comment:

  1. The silver lining on my being late to class today was that I was able to hear a story on KPCC about this very episode of "black-ish" that framed it within the context of television's history of "Very Special Episodes" and also discussed the way in which TV in general raises cultural issues.