“The wonderful thing about our show is that you have all these multi-generational perspectives,” says Laurence Fishburne about “Black-ish,” which he executive produces in addition to his role as family patriarch Pops. The ABC comedy, which was just renewed for a fifth season, follows the Johnson family as they navigate issues of race and class. Pops struggled financially when bringing up his kids, but now his son Dre (Anthony Anderson) is raising his own five children in affluence. Exploring those generational differences is “one of the things that gives us a kind of authenticity in terms of who the Johnsons are, what separates them and what brings them together.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Fishburne above.
These days there’s a lot that separates the Johnsons. The show has explored topics ranging from the N-word to police brutality to postpartum depression, and season four has raised the stakes even higher by exploring marital discord between Dre and his wife Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) in a multi-episode story arc that has taken “Black-ish” into darker emotional territory. “Marriages do have rough patches and people have to negotiate them,” says Fishburne, “so I think [this storyline] was a really smart idea.”
But there’s one timely episode that hasn’t seen the light of day. “Black-ish” made news this spring when the episode “Please, Baby, Please” was shelved due to “creative differences” between series creator Kenya Barris and ABC. The episode explored social and political themes through a bedtime story improvised by Dre for his infant son Devante. Fishburne can’t say much about the decision since he “wasn’t involved in the discussions” about whether or not to air it. “I’m in the episode,” he explains, “and I thought it was really powerful, but … we weren’t able to air it. But I hope that one day we will.”
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