Every generation seems to have had their sitcoms and TV series that spoke directly to its audience at the time. 30 years ago The Cosby Show did just that when it premiered, and now new series Black-ish on ABC can be on the path to make its own mark on culture and society. But are we doing the show a disservice by comparing it to the many past sitcoms? In a recent writing, respected writer Mitchell Marchand (pictured left) put his thoughts to paper and expressed that Black-ish shouldn’t be compared to others shows, as it looks to create its own voice. Check out an expert of his writing below. The full piece can be read here.
There’s a quote that goes “You can never go back home” and maybe when it comes to Black television shows we shouldn’t. Of course we love and honor our past but also have to embrace our future. It’s a rare feat on television where a show featuring Black people doesn’t involve thug imagery. If a show featuring us isn’t a tale from the hood the Black audience will sometimes reject it for not being real. I remember when even our beloved Cosby Show was questioned by some within the Black community for this very offense. I welcome what Black-ish can mean for television and hope that it ushers in a wave of shows that depict us as we are now, in all of our uniqueness. In the way that Cliff Huxtable and Martin Payne were very different and yet the same. Cliff, the older educated guy who delivered his funny through psychology and Marty Mar, the street wise brother who loved his girl and made us laugh with his mastery of physical comedy. I always saw Cliff Huxtable being what Martin Payne would eventually become……Black-ish is just one TV show and can’t begin to take on all the weight of the Black audiences needs and expectations. No ONE show can do that. But for a while it seemed like based solely on the shows title it was already dead in the water. Dead in the water before any of us had seen it. Dead even though it stars Anthony Anderson, Traci Ellis Ross, and Lawrence “freakin” Fishburne?!?! I would think that based on their individual track records we would at least give them a shot but based on the title we had our pitch forks ready to angry mob it. After the first weeks ratings, thankfully that isn’t the case. Thirty years ago The Cosby Show ushered in a wave of shows featuring us and maybe Black-ish can do the same thing thirty years later. That remains to be seen but let it forge its own path not live under the shadow of what came before it.