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Blackish gives a nostalgic feeling to a tragic modern problem

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.

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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.

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.

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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.
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.

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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.

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.

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