'black-ish' Is Tackling Marriage Problems In Season 4 & Bringing Realistic Family Struggles To The Spotlight
Watching the Johnson gang bond while entertaining Bow's "white family" over Easter dinner Tuesday night was definitely hilarious, but it looks like their envied, well-to-do dynamic could be taking a drastic turn very soon. According to Entertainment Weekly, black-ish will be tackling Dre and Bow's marriage problems at the end of Season 4. And seriously, it can't be stressed enough how this is a total win for those fighting for realistic portrayals of American families on television.
EW reports Bow and Dre's marital issues a "rough patch," and it's one that will mark the introduction of the series' first ever serialized story arc. Normally when watching the ABC hit, the episodes centered around specific events, only to explore other topics (which don't necessarily have anything to do with previous episodes). This time around, however, Bow and Dre's "rough patch" will fall over the final three episodes of the season, and hopefully, will be a theme throughout Season 5, too.
You've heard it before: representation matters. And the representation of honest family structures are most certainly important. Typically sitcoms either portray marriages as perfect and happy, or on the other end, the once happy couple is now divorced, but the exes still manage to uphold a best friend type of relationship in light of the children. Very rarely do audiences get to see marriages that are somewhere in the middle.
The show's creator Kenya Barris knows all about television's trouble with the inclusion of normal, everyday family structures, too. The TV writer and producer shared with EW that he didn't have much inspiration to turn to in the midst of his own marital issues.
In a statement to EW, Barris explained:
"When I was growing up, I never saw couples fight on the family sitcoms I loved to watch. Subsequently, when tough times arose in my own relationship, I wasn’t prepared and felt so isolated and alone. Marital issues weren’t a part of the narrative that television told me was a 'working relationship.'"
For black-ish, which is loosely based on Barris' life, he wanted to make sure to show the "real" when it comes to hashing out issues in a marriage. Seeing characters or situations that are relative to personal experiences on television or in movies can work wonders for someone's self esteem. When you see yourself represented in a fair and authentic light in media you're more than likely to walk away feeling validated — whether in search of validation, or not.
So, you can bet that when it comes to showcasing family dynamics in media, zoning in on the more hunky dory, perfect familial structure isn't doing much for those Americans who help to make up the 53 percent of failed marriages in the country.
And that's why it was so important for Barris to weave some of those trends into the Johnson's fabric. As for what exactly what Bow and Dre will be going through, that remains to seen. But according to Barris, whatever it is, is going to be shown in the most "raw and authentic" light possible for television.
Barris continued, saying:
"Dre and Bow have never been immune to tough situations, just like marriages in real life, including my own. We want to shine a light on the challenges a relationship can face and the necessary effort to try and work through them together."
As Barris mentioned, this won't be the first time the Johnson family has dealt with more serious topics on the program — with topics ranging from mass incarceration, to racial biases and prejudice, and even post-partum depression. And each and every time, Bow and Dre have been able to pull through, steering their children in the best direction possible.
And with taking their amazing track record so far into consideration, fans should be hopeful that the couple will be able to come out on the other side of their marital woes victorious, too.