“Mostly what people watch the show for is to enjoy the time with that family, and we’d done 150-something episodes by that point, maybe a little more,” says “Black-ish” showrunner Courtney Lilly about the eighth and final season of the ABC comedy series, which concluded this spring. “We just wanted to give them 13 more half-hours where they could have fun, celebrate the joy that hopefully the show brought.” We talked to Lilly as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV showrunners panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Black-ish” explored the lives of the Johnson family, who enjoy lives of affluence (father Dre is an ad executive; mother Rainbow is a doctor) but still face conflict as one of the few Black families in a predominantly white neighborhood — and for Dre, a largely white workplace. But while the series has confronted issues that have made real-world headlines — from police brutality to Donald Trump to the history of Juneteenth — for the most part “we just enjoy seeing a family that enjoys being around each other.” So to close it out, Lilly wanted the audience to enjoy spending time with the family “before they just kind of shuffle off into syndication.”
But that doesn’t mean the characters didn’t have a lot on their minds this year. Twins Jack and Diane (Miles Brown and Marsai Martin) faced the possibility of charting different paths through college, Pops and Ruby (Laurence Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis) contemplated the next phase of their lives, and Dre and Bow considered major changes. It was a reflection of how during the COVID-19 pandemic many of us “went back and looked at where we were in life, the decisions we were making, using it as an opportunity to kind of relaunch and reevaluate … We wanted to go full circle.”
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