Last night’s episode of Blackish tackled recent racial issues in a manner reminiscent of shows like The Cosby Show and Diff’rent Strokes — something not often seen on television these days. The powerful episode sparked some much-needed dialogue among audience members, proving that sitcoms can do more than just make us laugh.
Who can forget Jessie’s caffeine pill meltdown on Saved by the Bell? Or that episode of Diff’rent Strokes where Dudley was molested by the bicycle salesman? Then there was the Cosby Show episode where Theo was diagnosed as dyslexic. While some of the most memorable episodes of our favorite ’80s and ’90s shows were “very special” episodes, it seems like “special” episodes of popular television shows are a thing of the past.
This week's episode of BLACKISH is the closest thing I have ever seen to an episode of ALL IN THE FAMILY made in my lifetime
— Danny Sullivan (@SannyDullivan) February 25, 2016
Not so for Blackish, which tackled the very current and important issues of racism and police brutality against black people in last night’s episode, “Hope.” The show took a multi-generational approach to the subject, with the whole family stationed in front of the television as riots broke out across their city.
I love how #blackish uses each family member to show the different opinions the black community has on these tough topics…
— Y’all Won (@SylviaObell) February 25, 2016
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The subject matter was serious, but the show still managed to sneak in some humor to help balance out the heartbreak, and the fact that they did so with such skill speaks to the show’s relevance. The favorable reaction from audiences is proof that “going there” was a risk not only worth taking, but appreciated.
This episode of blackish is genius
— Brad Tits (@itsnysh) February 25, 2016
The #Blackish episode re: protest & police violence is powerful, honest, and thoughtfully engages the topic. It's a must see.
— deray (@deray) February 25, 2016
One of the aims of dedicating an entire episode to an issue like this is to spark conversation. For a family-friendly show like Blackish, that means creating opportunities not only for audiences to discuss issues online, but for parents to talk with their children as well.
Having a discussion w/ my daughter about last night's episode of Blackish.
— Tamara Johnson (@304TheRevTJ) February 25, 2016
Good #blackish episode tonight. Got my family talking about police brutality/ racial relations in this country
— Anders J. (@Johansson85) February 25, 2016
The episode ended with the family heading to a protest together — they might not necessarily have all the answers, but they’re going to make a statement together.
Blackish ended their police brutality episode with the family going to attend a protest. That is amazing. Thank you, @BlackishWriters
— Boo Radley (@ClauGasol) February 25, 2016
Overall, the message was hopeful, even though the situation is heartbreaking. With such a powerful episode like this making waves, maybe we’ll see more shows bravely tackling contemporary matters. With television providing such a strong platform for change, it seems a shame that more shows aren’t doing so already.