This fall’s television lineup is bringing much more color to the small screen.
ABC’s runaway hit Black-ish premiered its second season on September 23, where it tackled the controversial use of the N-word. In the episode, the family’s youngest son, Jack’s use of the word sets of a series of panicked reactions from the family and community members alike.
During a prescreening of the season two premiere showrunner Kenya Barris and lead actress Tracee Ellis Ross sat down to discuss the controversial, but funny, episode.
“We wanted to do the word last year just because it’s so much part of our culture,” said showrunner Kenya Barris.
While Barris felt that the usage of the word should be included in the show, Barris noted that the timing wasn’t always right. Heading into his second season, the combination of current events and the right storyline proved to him that it was indeed time to tackle the use of the word in Black culture and beyond.
“Comedy is at its best when it can be used as a filter to talk about interesting topics,” Barris said.
The show, which often features members of the Johnson family grappling with a variety of cultural issues, did its best to shed light on the use of the word in a humorous, non-judgmental way via the reactions of family members, neighbors, and work colleagues.
“I think that’s really what our show is about and what it does so well,” said Ross.
Ross went on to note that while she doesn’t use the word she isn’t necessarily against others using it.
“I don’t have all the answers,” she said.
Barris hopes that aside from the laughs that audiences will glean from the premiere, there will also be some understanding.
“If you understand the history of the word maybe (then) it’ll be on you to say ‘I understand the ramifications behind it (as well),’” Barris said.
Coming down the pipeline for its second season is the verifiably controversial Adult Swim series Black Jesus, which made its second season premiere on September 18.
Audiences can expect creator Aaron McGruder to take it up a notch this season, throwing in some unexpected surprises.
“We kind of threw everything away from the first season,” said co-star Kali Hawk.
Hawk, who plays Maggie, noted that there will indeed be many twists and turns this season.
“Last season we centered around one specific story or mission throughout the season. However this season we’ll be getting a chance to see the characters and the different dilemmas they’re in,” said Slink Johnson, who plays Black Jesus on the show.
Johnson noted that he was most excited for fans to see more of McGruder’s funny, and sometimes provocative, ideas.
“I want them to experience Aaron McGruder’s brilliant writing materialized,” he said.
This fall is also a big year for series premieres as well.
On Fox, Morris Chestnut makes his first debut as a lead television actor on the procedural drama Rosewood.
The story follows the life of a Miami-based pathologist and his relationships with his family and police officer partner.
Lorraine Toussaint, who plays Chestnut’s mother, was on hand at the screening to discuss what she’s most excited for fans to see on the show.
“I think it’s a show we’ve never seen before,” she said.
Toussaint points out that the uniqueness of the show lies, mainly, in its subject matter.
Rosewood is essentially a murder mystery television show coupled with traditional hour-long drama tropes.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen that combination and certainly not with people of color,” she said.
Rosewood premieres on September 23, smash hit Empire will immediately follow.