5 Questions And 500 Words: “black-ish”

Welcome to another installment of “5 Questions and 500 Words,” my approach to reviewing the crazy amount of shows that will be unspooling/returning over the course of the next few weeks. Given the glut of shows, and the glut of reviews that will be published for these shows, I’m keeping things short and sweet. This is for your convenience and my sanity.

“black-ish” premieres September 24 at 9:30 pm on ABC

I’m onto you. You haven’t liked anything so far this season. This is another 500-word takedown of another poor pilot, right?

Nope! “black-ish” is the best comedy of the Fall, and while that might sound like I’m damning it with faint praise, it’s indeed an excellent half-hour well worth your time.

Who are you and what have you done with the normal critic?

Look, it’s not fun panning show after show. But it’s not fun watching such mediocre material, either. So simply by being a smart, fast-paced sitcom with a lot of laugh-out-loud jokes, “black-ish” easily stands out amongst the rest. But rest assured: Even in a strong pilot season, I’d recommend this show wholeheartedly.

Whoa. Is this the second coming of “Modern Family” or something?

Whoa yourself. “Modern Family” still has one of THE all-time great pilots, and even if the show has naturally slipped somewhat since, it can still bring its “A” game on more than a few occasions per season. “black-ish” doesn’t have an instantly classic pilot, but instantly sketches out several unique perspectives and personalities that ping off each other in progressive fashion.

Is the show as alliterative as you just made it sound?

No, but what it lacks in wordplay is more than makes up for in a strong central family. ABC Wednesday nights might feature the most coherent block of programming on network television at this point, with four comedies (“The Middle,” “The Goldbergs,” “Modern Family,” and now “black-ish”) that eschew high-concept in favor of familial strife/love. That doesn’t make things easy on the ABC publicity department, but it’s very satisfying to know that there’s a two-hour block of programming that offers up four takes on the family unit that stand alone but resonate with one another as well.

What does this show bring to the metaphorical Wednesday night family table that the others don’t?

Deploying the type of intergenerational family squabbling that permeates the ABC Wednesday night comedy bloc inside an African-American household allows the show to make points about racial dynamics without being overly maudlin or preachy. The show doesn’t blaze any trails in terms of topics discussed, but also has a keen sense of how someone that lives through the 1960’s might react to Obama’s presidency versus someone not even born in the 20th century might. The dining room scenes in this show offer up a chance for this family to simply talk to and learn from one another, and we by extension get to learn something as well. “black-ish” is a show with a point of view that doesn’t forget to be funny above all else. What else can you ask of a comedy pilot?