Black-ish Nails Episode on Police Brutality

Positive reactions flooding in
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2016 1:59 PM CST
Black-ish Nails Episode on Police Brutality
An image from the Feb. 24 episode of "Black-ish" on ABC, "Hope."   (Patrick Wymore/ABC via AP)

On Wednesday night, ABC's Black-ish aired a ripped-from-the-headlines show that some might call a "very special episode." The entire half-hour featured the sitcom family sitting in the living room watching the news to see if a police officer would be indicted in a police brutality case. The case was fictionalized, but the characters discussed other such cases that have made the news in real life: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray. And the episode has been getting lots of positive reaction:

  • The episode was hard-hitting, and yet it still managed to be funny, writes David Sims in the Atlantic. "Black-ish’s continued presence on the small screen, and ABC’s willingness to let it talk about more charged issues in depth, is a strong reminder of why network television needs more families that look like the Johnsons on screen. This kind of episode doesn’t need to air every night—but they don’t air nearly often enough."
  • Sonia Saraiya at Salon calls the episode "brilliant" but also "heartrending." She notes that it's "lighter and less self-serious" than a true "very special episode," but "it does feel like an important manifesto. Not for, exactly, an end to police brutality, or equal rights but something less concrete; that much-politicized clause of the American Dream that hopes we might be able to leave for our children something better than what we ourselves had."

  • Slate's headline: "Black-ish Delivered One of the Best Episodes About Race Ever to Air on Television."
  • At Bustle, Kayle Hawkins notes some of the episode's best laugh lines ("Why must you always advocate for the devil? He does not need help with his legal team!" and "I wasn't worried about thugs—I married one.") and rounds up some of the positive Twitter reactions to the episode.
  • Show runner Kenya Barris talked to the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly about the episode. "Police brutality is the issue we chose to talk about, but the bigger issue for me is talking to your kids about what’s going on in the world," he says. "It used to be you could shelter them in your own way, but with Internet and phones and 24-hour news, you can’t avoid those conversations." The episode title is "Hope," and Barris says, "That’s sort of what we wake up for every day. We wake up with a sense of hope, or with a sense that things are going to be better for us and even better for our kids."
(More police brutality stories.)

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