Producers Kenya Barris, Jonathan Groff on ‘Black-ish’ ‘renaissance’ [Exclusive Video]

"I think we're still figuring it out," says "Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris about the evolution of the ABC sitcom. "Television shows are like babies. You raise them and expect them to be something, but then you kind of start changing and they become what they're going to be … I think that's the great thing about family shows is that you grow with the family." (Watch our complete video chat below.)

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"Black-ish," which is loosely based on Barris's life, follows the Johnson family: Andre (Anthony Anderson), an ad executive; Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), a doctor; and their four children. Andre, now living an affluent lifestyle, worries his kids have grown up disconnected from their racial heritage.

"I have to give ABC, the studio and the network credit," says executive producer Jonathan Groff of being able to tackle issues of race and class in the family sitcom. "There were times where they actually pushed us to make sure we had that element in every episode." Adds Barris, "Once the show actually presented itself … they started saying, you know what, actually we want to lean more into this, and that's what our signature has become."

The series ended its first season on May 20 with a special episode directed by Groff and set during the Harlem Renaissance, which Barris considers "one of the most important contemporary periods of any culture." It's one of his favorite episodes, in part because he's "a big fan of those old-time finales where you did something different, and we went back to that."

Considering the significance of that episode, Barris explains, "A lot of black culture is pretty contemporary if you really think about it. It really only starts when we came here because a lot of it before we were brought here was lost, and even a lot of it here was really disjointed. A lot of the culture we have comes from an … oral history, and with any oral history, there is some game of telephone involved."

Groff adds about shooting the stylish episode, "One thing we did different was spend a lot of ABC's money, like an unprecedented amount of their money."

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One thought on “Producers Kenya Barris, Jonathan Groff on ‘Black-ish’ ‘renaissance’ [Exclusive Video]

  1. Apparently your writers and production cast are very ignorant. I find it very offensive that you chose to include a derogatory remake on your episode that aired 4/12/17.
    Have you ever performed an 8 hour surgery to save someone’s limb? Do you think you could go to medical school and get straight A’s in courses such as biochemistry, physics, etc.
    I am a Surgically Board Certified Foot and Ankle Specialist. I also work in two chronic wound centers. I treat ALL systemic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, etc. I over 12 years post high school education as well as a surgical residency in MY chosen profession, yet a writer or an actor that probably did not go to a college can state that a podiatrist, chiropractor, nor psychologist are REAL DOCTORS!! REALLY!! I work 12-14 hour days everyday.
    The theme of your show that night was to not to demean “Jack” but it’s ok to demean other viable professions. I will not longer watch your show and will also encourage others the same.
    By the way, I am also chief of surgery at hospital, I’m 57, AND this is my second career. I worked as a nuclear physicist my first career. I challenge any one on your set to compare their IQ to mine. Very ironic that an “actor” who only portrays being and anesthesiologist made this statement.
    By the way, do your research, anesthesiologist don’t have to scrub when they go into the operating room.
    Obviously your writers are not ” real writers” nor ” real producers”

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