black-ish Premiere: Did You Fall for ABC's Newest Modern Family?

Black-ish Preview

Has ABC finally found a worthy companion to Modern Family?

Based on the pilot episode of black-ish, the network’s new Anthony Anderson-Tracee Ellis Ross vehicle, a “definite maybe” is in order.

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black-ish‘s opening moments — which found an Ultimate Hollywood Tours bus observing ad exec Dre Johnson and physician Rainbow and their four children, and calling them “the mythical and majestic black family… out of their natural habitat and still thriving” — scored bigger laughs than a half-dozen episodes combined of Super Fun Night (the ill-fated Wednesday 9:30 stinker ABC tried to make happen this time last year).

Better still, Dre’s decidedly un-PC narration threw a sharp side-eye at the co-opting of African-American culture: “In the ‘urban’ world, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke are R&B gods, Kim Kardashian’s the symbol for big butts, and Asian guys are just unholdable on the dance floor. Come on! Big butts, R&B and dancin’? Those were the black man’s go-tos!”

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Yes, as Matt Mitovich pointed out in his “fall TV first impression” piece, the episode took a pretty silly turn at the midway point — focusing on son Andre’s wish for a bar mitzvah — but with an appealing cast further upgraded by Laurence Fishburne as Dre’s truth-bomb-dropping pop, there’s real potential here. And Anderson and Ross’ chemistry was easy and well-worn, especially during a bedroom scene that found Dre aghast at the revelation that Rainbow believed O.J. Simpson was guilty of murder.

Let’s just hope further black-ish episodes keep exploring the “anthropological” parody element — in the vein of “If Black People Said What White People Say” viral video series — versus merely trying to be a Modern Family knockoff with a predominantly black cast.

What did you think of black-ish? Is it a good fit for the post-Modern Family slot? And will you be tuning in for Episode 2? Grade it in our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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