Aside from the occasional one-off joke or side plot, Black-ish has dedicated only a handful of episodes to hard-hitting issues, ranging from police brutality to voting. Back in September, creator Kenya Barris said the that the show would delve into more “very special episodes” for it’s third season. Earlier that year, a season 2 episode centered on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement sparked a lot of discussion and marked a turning point for the series.
Barris, who hadn’t always stressed such heavy episodes as being integral to the show, admitted that the police brutality episode, titled “Hope” had taken Black-ish to a new place.
“I would love to say it’s just business as normal but it definitely feels like it’s an added pressure,” Barris told Entertainment Weekly. “I feel like we are still trying to tell stories in the same kind of way. Organic. But at the same time, I feel like there is a real effort to say, ‘What does this scene mean? How do we dig a little deeper? How do we make it specific to this show?'”
Now just two months later, following a pretty devastating (for many) election, Barris reveals that Black-ish will be experiencing another shift.
“From Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, I think my show changed,” Barris recently told NPR. “I think that, you know, all of us came in here today and we felt like, you know, we’re in third season, you know, we’ve had some great episodes, you know, that I really was proud of. You know, we did a gun episode and hope and we did a voting episode. But this third season, we didn’t want to become just a soapbox.”
“So we sort of calmed down and we were like, you know what? We have to talk about things that people might not want to talk about openly. But we have to dig in deeper and stay later and have more real conversations and argue amongst ourselves more and really bring our emotions to the surface and really say things that people want to hear – have said. We have to do that more. We have a responsibility. It’s not just TV for us anymore.”
Of course a new direction can mean anything from more Trump jokes (the President-elect slammed the show for it’s title back in 2014) to a decidedly darker, nihilistic tone. I can’t wait to see what Barris & Co. come up with.