On 'black-ish' Anthony Anderson Gives a Sex Positive Take on "The Talk"
It's hard not to be a little let down by the second episode of black-ish. The premiere was not only good, but promised perhaps a little too much — that the show was going to find a way to not just be funny each week, but would make time to engage with racial identity of modern black families and the challenges black men face in the workplace. But ABC's new series black-ish had amazing ratings during its premiere, so to please that big audience they've decided to follow it up with a classic twist on the sex talk episode.
It's not like the show has completely abandoned its exploration of cultural issues — for example showrunner/creator Kenya Barris has teased an upcoming episode that takes on the minefield that is corporal punishment, but for the moment, they've put that on the back burner in order to get to know the family a little more. And maybe that's a good thing, because it proves that black-ish can bust out a classic ripped-from-the-90s sitcom story and still be charming.
The show has two very different perspectives on adolescence with Zoey and Andre Jr. Junior is such an adorable dweeb, and it felt kind of great to see a kid who's a chronic loser but doesn't have a super-stereotpical obsession with getting laid or objectifying girls — instead, he's a kid made in the post-Dan Savage mold, and most of the comedy comes from Anderson's Dre struggling to keep up with his son's sex positivity. And while every joke doesn't land (Anderson's pixelated nudity is a lame, lame joke to go out on), the sex positivity updated old tropes.
But Zoey and Rainbow's emotional conflict about mother and daughter failing to connect felt a little bit like a Haley/Claire Dunphy story from 2010. But Rainbow, with the help of Tracee Ellis Ross, who turned even her voiceover into gold, is developing into a weirdly unique character, with her mix of typical sitcom mom practicality and hippie nuttiness, and she deserves to carry an episode soon.
Look, pretty much every decent family sitcom (from Cosby to Malcolm in the Middle to Modern Family and even last year's Trophy Wife) has taken these two stories for a spin. Hopefully black-ish continues to have decent to great ratings, because at the moment it's basically the only new show that's better than just a guilty pleasure, and this cast and crew have proven they're willing to take old tropes to new places.
Image: ABC (screenshot); Black-ish ABC/Instagram