Black-ish the new comedy taking America by storm
The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince, My Wife and Kids, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris and now Black-ish. It is the latest in a long tradition of American ‘black’ family sitcoms and ‘Black-ish’ is off to a great start in the infamously turbulent US TV market.
Coming from really talented people like Larry Wilmore (creator of The Bernie Mac Show, US Office writer and Daily Show correspondent) and starring Anthony Anderson (The Departed, Transformers, Hustle & Flow) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Boyz n the Hood, Man of Steel) Black-ish always had a good chance of success, but you never know with the US’ TV system.
Countless great shows get shafted before they have chance to build an audience and are pushed around timeslots to be impossible to catch (just ask Firefly fans). This season of TV has already had casualties such as fellow freshman sitcom Selfie, a modern day Pygmalion story. It had good reviews and starred Karen Gillan of Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy fame and John Cho from Star Trek. It was cancelled after 6 episodes. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves and say that it is ‘safe’, the axe could drop at any moment- as is the network television way. But there are reasons to be positive.
First up: great reviews.
Black-ish currently boasts an 86% rating for its first season on rotten tomatoes. That’s the best of any new sitcom this year. Reviews don’t mean everything but they help keep people talking and writing about the show, which makes more people want to watch so they can get in on the conversation. Also great reviews also usually leads to awards, which networks love as it brings prestige to their channel.
Second, and most important, reason to be positive: great ratings.
Black-ish debuted to over 10 million people and has kept up great numbers. This is the real bellwether of success, though it can be misleading as it’s not just ‘how many’ are watching but ‘who is watching’ as well. Needless to say Black-ish commands a large black audience whom are presumably underserved elsewhere.
Anyway this is all adds up to good news for us UK dwellers for a many reasons. The most obvious one being that the longer it stays on the air the more chance it comes over to our shores. But also, hopefully, it will lead to the UK following in the footsteps of our American cousins. I look with increasing envy at the long list of hit US sitcoms that focus on black people/culture. On this side of the Atlantic, we have had pretty slim-pickings, with nothing that made it past more than a few episodes- other than maybe that Lenny Henry sketch show (which doesn’t really count).
Black-ish leaves me with mixed emotions. Happy: because a ‘black culture’ show is doing well. Sad: because the UK is still has nothing like this. And hopeful: because it will probably come on our screens sooner or later and be added to the classic import list with the like of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and maybe inspire someone over here to make a great show of our own.
– Dylan Wiggan