The second season of ABC’s “Black-ish” premieres Wednesday and the hit comedy will tackle the controversial N-word in a hilarious, pearl-clutching episode titled “The Word,” which finds the youngest Johnson, Jack (Miles Brown), facing expulsion from his private prep school after rapping Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” during a talent show. As you know, the track includes the N-word in the verse.
Jack’s parents defend his performance while examining their own conflicting feelings about the word. In the episode, patriarch Andre “Dre” Johnson (Anthony Anderson) defends Black folks use of the word as a term of endearment, while Jack’s mother Rainbow (Tracy Ellis Ross) finds the offensive word has no place in modern society.
We attended a preview screening of “The Word” where Tracy confessed that the N-word wasn’t something she heard often growing up. She even joked that there was a brief moment when she privately practiced saying it over and over in front of a mirror in an effort to emulate those she heard saying it in the urban community.
While use of the word is explored by the cast with perfect comedic timing, the episode will certainly cause you to reflect on your view of the N-word, leading to conversation with your peers, and possible debate, about who can use the word, when it should be used and how.
Series creator Kenya Barris, who previously co-developed “America’s Next Top Model” and served as co-executive producer on “The Game,” said season 2 of “Black-ish” is going to be edgier. We chatted with the award-winning screenwriter/producer recently about his reason for wanting to cover the risky N-word subject this season as opposed to last, and he said the decision was all about ‘timing.’
“It’s part of our culture… and we talked about doing it (last season) but we don’t like to do anything unless we have what we think is a real honest and unique take on it,” Kenya said. “Then all of a sudden the word just exploded again. It was everywhere with Don Lemon and Hulk Hogan, and in this time where we’re supposed to be this elevated society. It’s still just as prevalent as it was during Jim Crow.”
He continued with:
“We’re trying to approach this word from a lot of different standpoints. I think that we did a really good job. I hope that it resonates. I’m sure that it will absolutely cause some conversation. We walked away from it saying that we felt like we could hold our head up high in that we did the very best version of what we thought this episode should be.”
“Black-ish” premieres Wednesday, September 23 @ 9:30/8:30c on ABC.