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When I was an eight-year-old in 1981, my favorite show on TV was Happy Days. It came on at 8 PM, right before I had to go bed at 8:30. If I were really good at begging, I got to stay up and watch Laverne & Shirley.
Of course, the viewing experience was very different back in the early years of the Reagan administration than it is today.
My daughter is eight and her taste in TV is a mixed bag. When it comes to cartoons, she’s good. SpongeBob and Teen Titans are her jam. But the live action shows on Nickelodeon that she gravitates toward are turrible turrible. That Dan Snyder output is Dunning Kruger come to life. It’s not clever and it’s too dumb to know it. Ricky Donkey Plucky and Dawn? No. The Thundermans is hella racist, and there is nothing worse than validating bad jokes with a laugh track.
Life is not a prison sentence and I refuse to waste time watching bad TV. But I want to watch TV with my kid because TV is amazing!
I snuggled into bed the other night with the kid. Kids love to be ambushed, so using Hulu on Roku (wut), I started up Blackish. Let’s take this from the top, season 1, episode 1! Blackish has been on my list of shows to binge, and now I was going to tackle it with my favorite person on the planet.
The Johnson family is funny because the Blackish writers are smart. I say this a lot, but you can’t be funny unless you are smart. Want proof? Check out Mike Huckabee’s Twitter feed.
Diane: Why is there a plastic roof all over the food?
Dre: Baby, that’s a sneeze guard. It’s to protect the food.
Jack: From getting into our mouths?
Dre: I listened to her, gave her some generic advice in a deep, soothing voice. I Morgan Freeman’d her.
Rainbow: Well if I’m not really black, then could somebody please tell my hair and my ass?
I adore this woman.
And her character’s name is Ruby, which my Ruby loves. My name is Amy, and the best I ever got was that sign language robot gorilla from Congo. (The IT technology in that movie does NOT hold up, btw).
Blackish is about a black family in America, so naturally race is integral to the story line. Race is integral and necessary, and even when it’s uncomfortable, it’s usually funny. Unless it needs to be just uncomfortable, which is warranted.
The show creates an educational opportunity in my house. When the kid asked about character motivations in “The Gift of Hunger” episode (“Why does the mom not want that lady to think she is poor?”), my answer follows a familiar refrain: Because white people are terrible. When Ruby says she is more tan than white, I pat her on the head and say, “No, boo boo. You are white. But nice try.” The Portuguese blood on her Daddy’s side is not getting her out of this one.
Dr. Rainbow Johnson is a successful, black woman. Does she have it all? Well, she has an amazing job saving lives while dealing with the bullshit of men and children at home. That is as close to “having it all” as we can get. When my girl sees ‘Bow, she sees something aspirational. I want Ruby to end up at Brown; I don’t want Ruby to end up on Vanderpump Rules. Aspire, baby girl! Chase the Rainbow!